UoA 38: Laws

The Law Faculty at UCL occupies a distinctive and leading place within the global scholarly community. Situated in the heart of London amid world-class research facilities such as IALS and the British Library, we are an intellectually diverse yet integrated community of scholars whose aim is to advance the boundaries of legal scholarship through the dissemination of original knowledge and ideas. Our research mission is informed by the broad liberal and progressive ethos of UCL, seeking both a deep understanding of law and a significant contribution to the development of law and public policy across a wide range of subject areas.

This commitment is showcased in our annual lecture series and peer-reviewed publication, Current Legal Problems (OUP), a flagship for legal scholarship within the UK, which hosts cutting-edge research from within the Faculty and locations throughout the English-speaking world. Each lecture is CPD accredited, and chaired by senior judges, policy makers, and MPs. Through CLP we are able to feed our legal thought directly into practice at the highest levels. We benefit from a large range of regular seminar programmes and research centres (detailed below) through which we foster and encourage links between the individual research activities of our academics. In this way, we form a reflective community that deliberately avoids demarcation into separate departments or subject-groupings, and is therefore free of the constraints imposed by the traditional categories of legal thinking. Much of the Faculty’s research, therefore, does not merely redefine specific areas of law, but reshapes the categories within which law is thought about. We recognise the importance of collaboration within the Faculty, and also with colleagues in other institutions and in other disciplines. The colloquium chaired by Dworkin, for instance, can claim to be one of the most distinguished law and philosophy seminars in the world. 

During the assessment period, we have consciously built upon those structures which resulted in the award of 5*A in RAE 2001.  Furtherance of our objectives can be seen in the development of the Faculty’s general research environment, the enhancement of structures for supporting research, and in our commitment to recruit only the best scholars to the Faculty at all levels – evidenced by the fact that in three successive years UCL scholars have been awarded SLS Birks prizes for outstanding legal scholarship (Coyle 2004, Holder 2005, Ashiagbor 2006).

We believe that intellectual development is best served by the constant exchange of ideas across subject-areas.  At UCL this is encouraged informally by fostering a culture of mutual feedback on work-in-progress and, more formally, through established seminar programmes. Our lunchtime seminar series runs weekly throughout the academic year and attracts scholars from every continent, from within the Law Faculty, and from other parts of UCL. These seminars, attended by our research students as well as by Faculty members and by visiting scholars, provide an opportunity to develop and improve ideas before publication.  Participants in the popular WTO Scholars’ Forum meetings and International Law Association seminars organised by Smith and Wilde respectively include Faculty members and leading external academics and practitioners. Our jurisprudence seminar series and those in other subjects (outlined below) enjoy input from a wide cross-section of the Faculty and external visitors. Our annual interdisciplinary publication (and associated international colloquium) Current Legal Issues has consolidated its reputation as an important source of scholarly writing on a wide range of subjects, and underlines our commitment to pioneering work in the humanities and liberal arts. This assessment period has also seen the launch of a major new venture, the International Journal of Law in Context (Editor Freeman), which has quickly established a reputation as a principal destination for contextual legal research from around the world.

The Faculty has recently established a study group on Approaches to Law and Legal Theory to promote new approaches in legal scholarship; to provide support and feedback for interdisciplinary or groundbreaking work; and to open up dialogue with other disciplines.  Recent discussion topics have been: The contribution of evolutionary psychology to constitutional law (Oliver); Cognitive science, individual responsibility and the law (Letsas); From Frankenstein to prostitution: symbolic interactionism as an explanatory medium (Genders); Are either efficiency or welfare values and should law be responsive to them? (Mokal).

UCL has assembled a body of distinguished scholars whose aim is not simply to attain excellence, but to set the agenda for debate in legal scholarship. During the assessment period, we have consciously sought to balance the Faculty’s profile by growth at the junior level through the appointment of early career researchers of exceptional promise.

During the assessment period the Faculty has implemented a phase of planned expansion. We have created a full Lectureship in French Law (Hunter-Henin) as part of the expansion of our research effort in European public and private law; a fractional Chair in IP Law (Sir Hugh Laddie); a fractional Chair in Empirical Legal Studies (Pleasence); four posts for the independent LLM (tying our research and teaching interests more closely together); and a joint lectureship with European Social and Political Studies (Boccardi).  In total we have appointed 14 new lecturers during the assessment period, including 9 early career researchers (Letsas, Boccardi, Delacroix, Hunter-Henin, Miller, Lianos, Reisberg, Simon Fhima, and Guilfoyle).  While there have been several retirements (eg Jowell, O’Keeffe, Mendelson, Butler, Gardiner) and departures (Michael Bridge, Sir Basil Markesinis and Ross Harrison) at the senior level during the assessment period, we have succeeded in recruiting to Chairs scholars of outstanding quality (Scott, Redgwell, Rawlings, and most recently Lee, Sullivan, and Stevens).

Research students are an essential part of the Faculty’s academic enterprise. We are, however, deliberately highly selective in our recruitment procedures in the interest of candidates and staff. This selectivity is reflected in the figures for students per FTE staff.  Of the current 31 students studying towards PhD degrees, 15 are in receipt of studentships, for which there has been fierce competition, from: AHRC, Commonwealth (ACU), and Chevening. During the assessment period, the annual number of full-time research students increased from 19 in 2001 to 24 in 2006 and the number of doctoral degrees awarded annually peaked at 8 in 2005.  Underlining our commitment to recruit high quality doctoral candidates, the Faculty has financed 3 Research Studentships for three years from 2007, and up to 4 further Studentships in 2008, covering full tuition fees and a contribution to maintenance of £8000 per annum

During the assessment period the Faculty has succeeded in securing over £2.2 million in research funding from Research Councils, government, charities and the EU.  Income from Research Councils increased each year during the assessment period, with a sharp increase in 2005.  This is now the Faculty’s main source of external research income. Income from charities has also steadily increased since 2001 and more than doubled from £41k in 2005 to £87K in 2006.  Funding from government bodies peaked in 2005 at £235k.  

The Faculty has an established international reputation in a number of specialist areas.  We have worked hard to enhance our leading position in these areas and to develop a world-leading profile in other subjects during the assessment period, including:

Transnational Law

The Global Environment
War and Peace
Judicialization of International Politics
Regulation for Competitive Markets
Law and New Approaches to European Union Governance

Law, Government and the Constitution

Constitutional and Administrative Law
Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights

Commercial Law

Theoretical Foundations of Commercial Law
Transnational and Comparative Commercial Law


Analytical Foundations of Liberal Justice
Inquiry into Law’s Nature
Legal and Intellectual History

Law and Society

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Law (pdf 168Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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