UCL Judicial Institute



The UCL Judicial Institute is the UK's first and only centre of excellence devoted to research, teaching and policy engagement on the judiciary

Why a Judicial Institute?

The judiciary is effectively the third branch of government. Today, a wide range of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies have adjudicatory powers affecting the lives of citizens as well as the commercial sector. 

Recent constitutional reforms have accentuated the significance of the judiciary in this country. The creation of a separate UK Supreme Court as the final court of appeal has raised questions about the political role of the new court. And the establishment of an independent Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has brought the issue of judicial appointments to the forefront of policy debate. 

Despite such changes, the judiciary remains a limited area of both research and teaching in the UK.

What does the Judicial Institute do?

As the only centre for Judicial Studies in the UK, the UCL Judicial Institute is devoted to:

  • cutting-edge research on the judiciary that has a high policy impact
  • high-level policy work on courts and the judiciary in both the UK and Europe
  • teaching that brings students in direct contact with judges and policy-makers
  • expert seminars addressing key issues facing judges and courts worldwide
  • professional development courses to increase understanding of the judiciary
  • publications and scholarship on the judiciary from home and abroad
  • public events and expert commentary in the media on judicial issues.

Why a Judicial Institute at UCL Laws?

The UCL Laws Faculty was ranked 1st in England in the last Research Excellence Framework for both research environment and research impact, and featured three impact case studies by the Judicial Institute.

The Laws Faculty is uniquely placed to provide expertise in Judicial Studies. Its directors, Professor Cheryl Thomas and Professor David Ormerod, are both leading experts on the judiciary and courts, and the Institute is distinctly interdisciplinary. 

The JI brings together the country's leading experts in the study of the judiciary and includes expertise in fields such as political science, psychology, statistical analysis, forensic science & neuroscience.

Judicial Institute activities


The UCL Judicial Institute research programme is designed to provide robust empirical evidence about the judicial process. Major current research projects include the: UCL Jury Project, Remote Hearings and the Digital Courtroom Project and Special Measures Project.


The JI is pioneering educational programmes at all levels to increase understanding of the judiciary. This includes innovative undergraduate and LLM teaching on the judiciary, as well as Professional Development Courses educating practitioners about the judiciary and judicial education and training in the UK and abroad.

Policy input

The UCL JI is committed to assisting the development of judicial policies through empirical research and by providing a high-level forum for policy discussions between judges, academics and policy-makers. This includes  UCL JI Policy Briefings under the Chatham House Rule.

Professional development

The Judicial lnstitute provides training and professional development courses for practicing lawyers, judges and others with quasi-judicial responsibilities. This includes judicial train the trainers programmes, as well as courses on conducting fair hearings and understanding judicial functions.

Public debate

The Judicial Institute holds a regular programme of public events promoting discussion about the key role of the judiciary in law and society.


The UCL JI provides Fellowships to leading international experts on the judiciary and sabbaticals for judges from around the world. The Directors serve as UK representative on international projects on the judiciary, and the Institute conducts innovative comparative research on key issues involving judges and courts.