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Dr Stephanie Pywell

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • The Open University Law School
  • The Law School
  • stephanie.pywell

Professional biography

Stephanie has a BA (Open) in science, maths, economics and statistics, and a First Class Honours LLB and PhD from the University of Hertfordshire.

She worked in the Academic Team at ILEX Tutorial College (now CILEx Law School) for six years before becoming a freelance academic author, tutor and editor.

Stephanie was an Associate Lecturer with The Open University from 2008–2013, teaching students on two introductory law modules. She joined the Law School as a full-time Lecturer in November 2013, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2018. Stephanie achieved Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in August 2014, and Senior Fellowship in June 2017.

Research interests

Stephanie has a range of research interests, reflecting her strong belief in justice in all areas of life.

She has published papers on topics including neuroimaging and decision-making for people with prolonged disorders of consciousness, the classification of delegated legislation and its relevance to Brexit, and the treatment of litigants in person in the civil court system.

Stephanie's article in Child and Family Law Quarterly on the content of civil marriage ceremonies in England, which she co-wrote with Professor Rebecca Probert, discusses the results of the first investigation into the vows and rituals that couples request, and registrars permit, in civil ceremonies. 

Teaching interests

Stephanie's main teaching interest is in making the law accessible to as many people as possible. She is the longest-serving member of the Module Team for W101 An Introduction to Law.

She wrote the 12 Introductory Steps to Law, a set of online materials designed for students who begin their law studies at Level 2. The Steps provide the essential legal knowledge from the OU's Level 1 law modules. The first Step is publicly available, free of charge, on OpenLearn. Stephanie's article about the Steps, and the benefits of providing students with information in small chunks, was published in The Law Teacher in 2018.

Stephanie supervises a PhD student who is researching the Court of Protection's role in end-of-life decision-making for people with prolonged disorders of consciousness.

Impact and engagement

Stephanie contributed two Open Justice blog posts about her experience as a self-represented litigant, with the aim of increasing awareness of the stress that involvement in the civil court system can cause.

External collaborations

Stephanie collaborates with Professor Rebecca Probert from the University of Exeter, who is the leading authority on marriage law in England and Wales, on aspects of the law governing marriage.


No Judge Required: M (By her litigation Friend, Mrs B) v A Hospital; M (Withdrawal of Treatment: Need for Proceedings) (2017) EWCOP 19 (2019-02-01)
Pywell, Stephanie M.
Medical Law Review, 27(1) (pp. 135-143)
Something old, something new: busting some myths about Statutory Instruments and Brexit (2019-01)
Pywell, Stephanie
Public Law (pp. 102-120)
The litigant in person’s tale: despair and dysfunction in the civil justice system of England and Wales (2019)
Pywell, Stephanie
Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education, 13(1) ((In Press))
Neither sacred nor profane: the permitted content of civil marriage ceremonies (2018-12)
Pywell, Stephanie and Probert, Rebecca
Child and Family Law Quarterly, 30(4) (pp. 415-436)
Bridging the gap: online materials to equip graduate entrants to a law degree with essential subject knowledge and skills (2018)
Pywell, Stephanie
The Law Teacher, 52(2) (pp. 154-170)
Live or Let Die? The Court of Protection's Ground-Breaking Decision in M. v. N. (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and others [2015] EWCOP 76 (Fam.) (2016-08)
Pywell, Stephanie
Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, 4(2) (pp. 143-152)
The reasonable robot (2016-05-27)
Pywell, Stephanie
New Law Journal, 166(7700) (pp. 19-20)
PP v Health Service Executive [2014] IEHC 622: The High Court of Ireland (Divisional Court): Kearns P, Baker, Costello JJ: 26 December 2014 (2015-06)
Pywell, Stephanie
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 4(2) (pp. 327-328)
Dimitrova v Bulgaria: Application no 15452/07: European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section); Raimondi (President); Hirvelä, Bianku, Tsotsoria, Mahoney, Wojtyczek, JJ; Panova, ad hoc judge: 10 February 2015 (2015)
Pywell, Stephanie
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 4(3) (pp. 542-543)
The Influence of Catholic Doctrine on Medical Law when X’s Life Poses a Threat to Y’s Life (2015)
Pywell, Stephanie
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 4(3) (pp. 520-525)
Disentangling the law (2013-08)
Pywell, Stephanie
CILEx Journal (pp. 30-31)
Untangling the law (2013-03-22)
Pywell, Stephanie
New Law Journal, 163(7553) (pp. 321-322)
The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme: a proposal for radical reform (2002)
Pywell, Stephanie
Journal of Social Security Law, 9(2) (pp. 73-93)
A critical review of the recent and impending changes to the law of statutory compensation for vaccine damage (2000-12)
Pywell, Stephanie
Journal of Personal Injury Litigation, 2000(4) (pp. 246-256)
Reasonable diligence or unreasonable judicial expectations? The effect on lenders of section 32(1)(b) of the Limitation Act 1980 (2000-05)
Pywell, Stephanie
Conveyancer and Property Lawyer (pp. 261-267)
Vaccination and other altruistic medical treatments: should autonomy or communitarianism prevail? (2000)
Pywell, Stephanie
Medical Law International, 4(3-4) (pp. 223-243)
The public health risk from passive smoking: why our legislators should act now (1999)
Pywell, Stephanie
Health Care Risk Report, 5(6) (pp. 16-17)
The public health risk from passive smoking: an inadequate patchwork of protection from English law (1998)
Pywell, Stephanie
Health Care Risk Report, 4(10) (pp. 19-21)
The ethical imperative of ascertaining and respecting the wishes of the minimally conscious patient facing a life-or-death decision. (2016-02-05)
Catley, Paul and Pywell, Stephanie
In: Sturma, D.; Honnefelder, L. and Fuchs, M. eds. Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik. Band 19 (pp. 77-90)
Publisher : De Gruyter | Published : Berlin
Potential legal implications of advances in neuroimaging techniques for the clinical management of patients with disorders of consciousness (2015-08-01)
Pywell, Stephanie
In: Sturma, D.; Honnefelder, L. and Fuchs, M. eds. Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik. Band 19 (pp. 115-146)
Publisher : De Gruyter | Published : Berlin
Infant vaccination: a conflict of ethical imperatives? (2005-08-26)
Pywell, Stephanie M
In: Garwood-Gowers, Austen; Tingle, John and Wheat, Kay eds. Contemporary Issues in Healthcare Law and Ethics (pp. 213-232)
ISBN : 0-7506-8832-7 | Publisher : Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd
Particular issues of public health: vaccination (2001)
Pywell, Stephanie
In: Martin, Robyn and Johnson, Linda eds. Law and the Public Dimension of Health (pp. 299-327)
ISBN : 1-85941-652-7 | Publisher : Cavendish Publishing | Published : London
Compensation for Vaccine Damage (2001-01-30)
Pywell, Stephanie
PhD thesis University of Hertfordshire