The belonging research cluster has a general interest in matters relating to community and identity formation. The cluster invites interdisciplinary explorations informing legal questions relating to matters of belonging, identity, community, and citizenship. Research interests of cluster members include explorations of: belonging within the legal profession; withdrawal from the European Union; law’s role in fostering belonging in the Third Reich; law and religion; regulatory oversight of charities; and, monuments, memory, and the law.
Rapid advances in data transmission, transaction, recording, storage and management, via networked technologies and systems such as distributed ledgers, blockchains, smart contracts and cryptoassets, is profoundly impacting legal thinking, conduct and practice. Using critical, interdisciplinary and trans-faculty approaches, the Blockchains, Data and the Law research cluster explores, and analyses shifts in a variety of new and emerging technological domains. Dr Robert Herian, author of Regulating Blockchain (Routledge, 2018) and contributor to government policy development on blockchain technologies in the UK Parliament and EU Commission, leads our research in this field. Robert is a member of the Open Blockchain group at the OU.
The focus of our research is on the intersections between feminism, gender and the law. Academics and PhD students within OU Law examine this complex relationship in relation to a number of areas, including gender, sexuality and criminal law, first women lawyers, online violence against women & online misogyny, international law & women’s rights in post-conflict situations, women in the legal profession, women, coercive control & criminal law, coercive control, prisons, gender identity and law, civil weddings and the cost of marrying.
Recent years have seen enormous advances in scientific understanding of the brain and behaviour. Academics within the Law School, including Paul Catley, Dr. Lisa Claydon and Dr. Stephanie Pywell, are examining the use and potential use of evidence from neuroscience and associated brain sciences within the justice system. They are collaborating with neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatrists to understand the reliability of scientific claims, and working with lawyers worldwide to understand how science is being used in different jurisdictions and to recommend best practice.
Much of OULS’ research has an international focus, reflecting the global nature of our Masters programme. Academics with a particular interest in international law include Keren Bright, Dr. Olga Jurasz, Dr. Neil Graffin and Rhonson Salim. Keren’s research interest in international law, concerning cultural property, particularly works of art, cultural artefacts, monuments and architecture. More narrowly, Keren’s interest includes the protection of the integrity of artistic works, the debate concerning repatriation claims and the protection of cultural property during times of armed conflict. Olga’s research focusses on gender, international law and human rights: exploring how public international law addresses the long term impact of armed conflict on women, and how women’s rights are protected in the transition from war to peace. Neil Graffin’s interests are in international human rights law and asylum law. Neil’s current research looks at the prohibition on torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to a fair trial, and also issues concerning the gathering of evidence in asylum claims. Rhonson’s primary international law research interests lie in the areas of private international law, restitution and arbitration. Rhonson is currently collaborating in this area with the British Institute for International and Comparative Law.
Professor Simon Lee is a leading authority on law, ethics and religion and before joining the Open University was Executive Director of the Cambridge Theological Federation. Jessica Giles is Director of PILARS Research (the Project for Interdisciplinary Law and Religion Studies at The Open University). She is also associate editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion – a journal for which several colleagues have written including Emma Jones, Hugh McFaul and Dr. Stephanie Pywell.
As the leading provider of supported distance learning in the UK it is no surprise that OULS attracts academics who are very interested in the pedagogy behind distance learning, and in legal education more generally. Colleagues researching in this area include Paul Catley, Jessica Giles, Emma Jones and Dr. Stephanie Pywell. A particular focus of research within the Law School is on the teaching of ethics within Law programmes – researchers in this area include Keren Bright, Roland Fletcher, Dr. Neil Graffin, Hugh McFaul, Francine Ryan and Professor Simon Lee.