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Dr Caroline Derry

Dr Caroline Derry

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Law
  • The Faculty of Business and Law
  • The Open University Law School
  • The Law School
  • caroline.derry

Professional biography

Caroline Derry joined the Open University as a Lecturer in Law in April 2017.

Caroline was educated at Oxford University, where she studied Jurisprudence, and later at the University of Westminster where she was awarded an LLM and PhD. She qualified as a barrister, practising in criminal defence law, and as a solicitor in a large, central London legal aid practice. She then taught for fifteen years at London Metropolitan University, where she was a senior lecturer in criminal and evidence law and gender & law, and course leader for the LLB Law. She has been a visiting lecturer in criminal law at SOAS and at Paris Descartes (Masters in Common Law).

Caroline is a Fellow of the HEA.


Research interests

Gender, sexuality and criminal law, particularly the legal regulation of relationships between women from the seventeenth century to the present. Recent papers and publications include:

  • Gender and Law (Routledge, forthcoming)
  • ‘”Female Husbands”, Community and Courts in the Eighteenth Century’ (2017) 38(1) Journal of Legal History 54-79
  • ‘Learning from Wolfenden’s silent women’, Sexing the Past: What is and how to do LGBT History, Liverpool, 2017
  • ‘Judges, nabobs and malign domestics: judicial fact-finding in Woods and Pirie v Cumming Gordon’, SLSA Conference, University of Warwick, 2015

First women lawyers: Caroline is currently researching several of the first British women to qualify as barristers. She is a participant in the First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposia. Recent papers include:

  • 'Diverse definitions, diverse women: who was the first woman barrister?', First Women Lawyers Symposium, St Mary’s University, June 2017
  • ‘Ethel Bright Ashford: using ‘failure’ to promote the greater cause’, First Women Lawyers Symposium, St Mary’s University, 2016


Teaching interests


  • W101 An Introduction to Law
  • W102 Law: concepts and perspectives.


Prior to working at the Open University, Caroline led a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including:

  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence and Advocacy
  • Women and Law
  • Gender and Human Rights
  • Criminal Justice and Human Rights



‘Female Husbands’, Community and Courts in the Eighteenth Century (2017)
Derry, Caroline
Journal of Legal History, 38(1) (pp. 54-79)