Professor Nicola Padfield

Department name
Institute of Criminology
Director of Studies (Law)

Criminal law, criminal justice and sentencing.

Professor Nicola Padfield QC (Hon), MA, Dip Crim, DES was Master of Fitzwilliam College from 2013-2019.

Nicola Padfield is Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991. She has held a number of posts in the College including President, Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor.

After her first degree at St Anne's College, Oxford she came to Cambridge (Darwin College) to study for the Diploma in Criminology. Called to the Bar in 1978, she then spent a year at the University of Aix-Marseille and married Christopher (who read Engineering at Fitzwilliam and graduated in 1971). Since they returned to Cambridge nearly 25 years ago, her teaching and research has covered a broad canvas in criminal law, sentencing and criminal justice more generally. She sat as a Recorder (part-time judge) in the Crown Court from 2002-2014, is a Bencher of the Middle Temple and served as the University Advocate for several years. She was appointed as Honorary Queen's Counsel in 2018.

Nicola Padfield’s books include ‘The Criminal Justice Process: Text and Materials’ (5th edition, 2016); ‘Criminal Law’ (10th edition, 2016), and ‘Beyond the Tariff: Human rights and the release of life sentence prisoners’ (2002). She has edited and contributed to a number of more recent collections of essays on parole and early release (which has involved research in a number of European countries).

Whilst maintaining a wide academic lens, her recent research has explored how the law on release from, and recall to, prison works in practice, and how it is perceived by offenders and those who work in the system. This under-researched area provides an important contribution to the understanding of how offenders are best supported in their attempts to desist from criminal life-styles, and how the rehabilitation and resettlement of offenders can be better encouraged. She has been active in a number of pan-European research networks and Criminal Law Review.