Department of Political Science

Dr Helen Brown Coverdale

Dr Helen Brown Coverdale

Lecturer (Teaching)

Dept of Political Science

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2017

Research summary

My research centres the moral dimensions of interactions between individuals and the state, including the role of particular context (recognising people as individuals), and the contribution of legal frameworks to supporting morally appropriate treatment of persons by states. I specialise in care and relational ethics, and the philosophy of criminal punishment. I’m also interested in making ethics accessible to engineers, the ethical qualities of human relationships with - and uses of - technology, and the implications for citizens and democracy. 

 Current projects: 

Suspended prisons sentences 

Proportional punishment in an unjust world 

Risks associated with the collateral consequences of punishment 


With colleagues, we have secured British Academy conference funding for 2023/24. 

We anticipate sharing details of our work on forensic environments and places of incarceration soon. 

Non-paradigmatic punishment - with Bill Wringe

Collateral consequences of punishment - the harms beyond punishment, led by William Bulow-O'Nils and Zachary Hoskins 

The justification of punishment in schools - Pedagogies of Punishment project, led by John Tillson and Winston C Thompson

Teaching summary

Current teaching:

Ethics of crime & punishmentPOLS0030 (undergraduate)

Contemporary Political Philosophy 1(Democracy & Authority) PUBL0071 (postgraduate)

Equality Justice & DifferencePUBL0023 (postgraduate)

Previous teaching at UCL:

Global ethics, Public ethics,justice & public policy, Moral foundations of politics, Philosophy values& social sciences, Peer Assisted Learning (taught postgraduate normativemethods workshop), staff-student workshop in political theory (research seminarand normative methods workshop for research postgraduate students).

I supervise undergraduate andpostgraduate dissertations in political theory using normative methods.

I am interested insupervising research students in contemporary political theory, particularly inthe areas of equality and inclusion, penal theory or feminist ethics. 


I joined UCL in 2017, having taught political thought at LSE (Department of Government) and KCL (Department of Philosophy). I currently also work as a Research Associate in the University of York Law School on Matt Matravers Leverhulme Research Fellowship project Criminalisation and punishment: philosophical theory and practical reality.

Prior to my academic career, I worked in the criminal justice sector, and as a researcher in the Westminster Parliament. I hold an AHRC funded PhD (Law, LSE)applying care ethics to criminal punishment, an MA in Legal & Political Theory (UCL) and a BA (Econ) hons specialising in Government (Manchester).

I’m a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, hold two UCL Faculty Education Awards, and I am regularly nominated for student-led UCL Choice Awards.

I enjoy sailing and cooking - especially bakingbread #acedmicswhobake - as well as hiking, which I combine with my work in the form of #freerangephilosophy.