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Research Profile

Dr Matthew Williams 

Career Profile

Dr. Matthew Williams gained his PhD in Criminology in 2003 and has been a member of academic staff within the School of Social Sciences since 2001. Over the last decade he has formed an international reputation for his interdisciplinary research within three innovative fields: Digital Social Research & Big 'Social' Data; Computational Criminology & Cybercrime; and Cyber Hate and Homophobic Hate Crime. Interdisciplinarity is a key feature of his work which is evidenced by his research partnerships with the schools of Computer Science, Psychology, Law, Business, Mathematics and Dentistry. He has been successful in gaining grants from the ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC, JISC, Big Lottery Fund, Welsh Government, Nominet Trust, Stonewall Cymru, TUC Wales, Safer Wales, Google, Department of Health, High Performance Computing Wales/Fujitsu and the Airbus Group.  His research income to date is in excess of £4M.  

He is a founder of the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS) that has attracted 17 research grants amounting to over £1.25M in funding from the ESRC and £500K from the public and private sectors.  The COSMOS programme of work directly relates to his career-long interest in Digital Social Research (DSR) that dates back to 1997 when he began his PhD on virtual communities and cybercrime (supervised by Prof. Paul Atkinson). He was Principal Investigator on the first founding COSMOS grant 'Digital Social Research Tools, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: A demonstration of COSMOS' (ESRC DSR Programme) and is Principal Investigator on the current COSMOS grant 'Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modeling' (ESRC/National Centre for Research Methods Methodological Innovation Project). Including the above he is currently involved in 11 ongoing research projects that relate to COSMOS, Cybercrime and Cyber Hate.

He has published in the areas of Digital Social Research, Big Data & Social Media, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, and Hate Crime and has presented at over 60 national and international conferences. He is co-editor (with Malcolm Williams, William Housley and Adam Edwards) of the special issue of the International Journal of Social Research Methodology entitled Computational Social Science: Research Strategies, Design and Methods (2013), of the special issue (with David Wall) of Policing and Society entitled: Policing Cybercrime: Networked and Social Media Technologies and the Challenges for Policing, and the forthcoming book Digital Society: Theory, Method and Data (with Adam Edwards, William Housley and Peter Burnap) that will be published by Sage in 2015.  His book,Virtually Criminal published by Routledge was short listed for the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Book Prize in 2007. 

In 2013 he was invited by James Brokenshire, then Minister for Security, and David Willets, Minister for Universities and Science to join, as one of only two academics, the HMG's Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership. In 2014 he was invited by Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Committee, to join HMG's Costs of Cybercrime International Expert Advisory Group.  He also currently acts as an expert reviewer for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Board of Physical Sciences Cyber Security Programme.  He has been an academic reviewer on HMG's Office for Science Foresight project ‘Future of Identity’, an academic advisor to the ACPO/College of Policing project ‘National Assessment on threats and opportunities posed by the use of Global Digital Communication Technologies’, and an academic advisor to the DTI foresight programme and the eCrime Wales Project.  

He was recently appointed to serve as a member of the ESRC's Peer Review College.


  • Chair of the Taught Postgradute Board of Studies (2010-)
  • Research and Graduate School Liaison for the School of Social Sciences (2009)
  • Taught MSc Schemes Assessment Coordinator (2005-09)
  • Acting Taught MSc Schemes Admissions Coordinator (2006)
  • Acting MSc Criminology & Criminal Justice Scheme Coordinator (2006)
  • Member of School Management Board
  • Member of the School Assessment Working Group
  • Assisted in the design and validation of the single honours degree in Criminology
  • Member of the BSc Criminology joint degree validation committee
  • School representative on the Early Career Academic University Committee (2005-2006)
  • Member of the University Equality and Diversity Committee
  • Co-Chair of the Cardiff University Enfys Staff Network (2006)
  • University representative at several Stonewall Diversity Champions events across Wales
  • Attended meetings of the University Sexual Orientation Working Group

University Wider Mission Activities

  • Invited by Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Committee, to join HMG's Costs of Cybercrime International Expert Advisory Group (2014-).  

  • Expert reviewer for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Board of Physical Sciences Cyber Security Programme (2014-).
  • Invited by James Brokenshire, the Minister for Security and David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science to join the UK's eCrime Reduction Partnership (2013-)
  • Academic Reviewer: Foresight project - Future of Identity, HM Government Office for Science, 2012-
  • Academic Advisor: National Assessment on threats and opportunities posed by the use of Global Digital Communication Technologies, ACPO Intelligence Portfolio/NPIA, 2012-
  • Academic advisor to the Department of Trade and Industry (Foresight e-Crime Programme)
  • Academic advisor to the Welsh Government e-Crime Steering Group/Wales eCrime Project, 2005-2009
  • Invited to provided evidence at WG inquiry into disability hate crime 2012
  • Invited to be a National Expert on the Digital Social Research Programme, ESRC, 2012
  • Invited to provide evidence at Equality and Human Rights Commission (Wales) Disability Inquiry 2011
  • Invited to provide evidence on eCrime to HMG Parliamentary Information Technology Committee 2011

Professional  Activities

  • Member of Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Peer Review College
  • Co-Editor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2009-11)
  • Associate Editor of the Internet Journal of Criminology
  • Editorial Board Member of Sociological Research Online
  • Special Issue Editor International Journal of Social Research Methodology
  • Special Issue Editor Policing & Society
  • Reviewer for Cambridge Anthropology
  • Reviewer for Qualitative Research
  • Reviewer for Policing & Society
  • Reviewer for Sociology
  • Reviewer for Law & Society
  • Grant Reviewer for the Economic and Social Research Council
  • Grant Reviewer for the Nuffield Foundation
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Internet Researchers (2000-2002)
  • Treasurer of the British Society of Criminology, Wales and West Branch (2002-2004


  • Offending and Victimisation (Yr 2)
  • Responses to Crime (Yr 2)
  • Crime Control, Regulation and Policing (Yr 3)
  • Diversity, Crime & Criminal Justice (Yr 3)
  • Sentencing and Penal Theory (MSc)
  • Police and Policing (MSc)
  • Theories of Crime (MSc)
  • Penal Sanctions (MSc)
  • Patterns of Crime and their Explanation (MSc)
  • Criminological Research Methods (MSc)
  • Principles and Practice of Research Design (MSc)
  • Interviews and Interviewing (MSc)
  • Analysis of Qualitative Data (MSc)
  • Research Design (Prof Doctorate)
  • Forensic Psychiatry (MSc)


  • Louise Madden - Women's use of the Internet (Complete)
  • Penny Miles - Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Citizenship in Latin America (Complete)
  • Mike Thomas - Civil Partnership Unions in Canada, US and UK (Complete)
  • Matt Jones - Occupational Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Police Officers (Complete)
  • Will Chivers - Online Counter Surveillance (Year 4)
  • Liam Rowley - Virtual Worlds and Art Education (Year 4)
  • Ian Thomas - Men Who Have Sex with Men and Mobile Technologies (Y3)
  • Heather Panter - Heteronormativity and Homophobia in US and UK Policing (Year 2)
  • Daniel Gray - Misogyny is Social Media (Year 1)

Awards and Prizes

  • Research Monograph Virtually Criminal short-listed for the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

Memberships / External Activities

  • Member of the British Society of Criminology
  • Member of the American Society of Criminology
  • Member of the British Sociological Association