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Research clusters


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. 

Law, Information, Future, Technology (LIFT)

Using critical, speculative, and empirical methods, and inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches, this research cluster explores and analyses shifts, trends, and tensions in existing and emerging techno-legal domains.

Feminism, Law and Gender (FLAG)

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.

Law and Neuroscience

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.

International Law

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 Dr. Olga Jurasz, Dr. Neil Graffin and Rhonson Salim.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.

Law and Religion

This cluster is particularly interested in interdisciplinary study – the synthesis of law and philosophy, theology, politics and history. It is run by a team of Open University and international academics researching in the field of Law and Religion. 

Space Exploration Analysis and Research (SPEAR)

Combining natural and social sciences to create a step-change in the identification and understanding of socioeconomic impacts of space.

The futures of legal education and practice

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 Lloyd Bright, Roland Fletcher, Dr. Neil Graffin, Hugh McFaul, Francine Ryan and Professor Simon Lee.