In academic literature, protest, civil disobedience, and non-violent direct action are all regarded as important means of engaging in political struggle. Actions that appeal direct to the public or target institutions that are causing harm are seen as important mechanisms that are necessary when traditional political means fail. We are currently seeing a range of movements, particularly in the field of environmental activism (such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Insulate Britain), who are taking to the streets and engaging in direct action in response to perceived political failures to address pressing social issues. As these actions challenge ‘mainstream politics’, how the law responds to these movements is of vital importance. Does the law facilitate protest rights (under Articles 10 and 11 of the ECHR) or does it seek to chill dissent?
There is a wealth of literature on the policing of protest, but a dearth of literature on what happens to protestors once they are arrested. We know little on prosecution practices, such as the decision as whether to prosecute or what offence to charge. Similarly, there is a limited literature on what happens when protestors are taken to trial. How does criminal procedure, the law of evidence and the scope of criminal defences facilitate or chill political engagement in the trial?
Applications are sought for candidates to undertake work in this broad area of protest and the criminal law. This includes: the policing of protest; prosecutorial and trial process; and the criminal law and protest.
Applicants for a PhD will typically hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above in law (or a subject related to the proposed area of research) or its international equivalent. Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have will also taken into account.
For those intending to apply for funding, we require either a first class (or equivalent grade) at undergraduate or a distinction (or equivalent grade) at masters level. Most successful applicants will have both.
More information and contact details are available here.
How to apply
We support funding applications via the UKRI, funding both doctrinal/theoretical/historical projects and socio-legal projects (available for both home and international applicants). For more general information on funding, including alternative sources, see here. Funding application deadlines for the two major funding streams are in January each year, so we encourage applicants to be in contact well ahead of this to discuss and refine your potential application.