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Southampton Law School
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Professor David Gurnham LLB (Lancaster), PhD (Warwick)

Professor of Criminal Law and Interdisciplinary Legal Studies

Professor David Gurnham's photo

David Gurnham is a Professor of Criminal Law and Interdisciplinary Legal Studies within Southampton Law School at the University of Southampton. He came to Southampton as a Reader (Associate Professor) in 2012, having previously been a Lecturer in Healthcare Law and Ethics at the University of Manchester (2005 - 2012), and a Lecturer in Law at the University of Reading (2003 – 2005). His research and teaching reflect a primary interest in law in its contexts, and looks beyond law’s traditional boundaries in order to forge new critical and methodological possibilities.

Research interests

  • Criminal law
  • Law and Humanities
  • Critical and theoretical approaches to law (including psychoanalysis and feminism)
PhD supervision

I am in principle available to supervise on any topic within my research expertise. I have recently finished supervising Hector Olivas (with Mark Telford) on the legitimacy of prisons privatization in Mexico and the UK, James Thornton (with Mark Telford) on reforms to criminal procedure and fees structures in England and Wales, both of whom passed subject to modest corrections. I am currently supervising Ana Fuentes (with Harry Annison) on public bodies’ responses to human trafficking.

PhD research

PhD (Warwick) 2004: ‘Judicial Rhetoric and Ethical Dilemma: The Role of Liberal Principle in Legal Language’.

Research projects

Justice as escape: from metaphor to experience

Professor Gurnham's current law and humanities research focuses on contemporary 'contact points' between law's physical effects and the metaphors by which notions of justice and fairness are conceived, and explores issues arising from this. The research addresses this contact between the physical and the figurative as a question of theory and also in terms of its real impact in particular contexts and on particular communities. Publication is anticipated in 2021/2.

Law, policy and society at the margins

Professor Gurnham is editing a special issue the International Journal of Law in Context (2021) on how law does and ought to respond to people and communities who find themselves at or near the ‘margin’ of society and its concerns. The issue will engage an interdisciplinary readership of scholars and students who are interested in law and policy from doctrinal, socio-legal and criminological perspectives. It addresses concerns regarding how a focus on the contexts in which marginalisation occurs can better inform our understanding of law and the potential for research to impact upon society and communities.

  • Director of Research, School of Law
  • Editor in Chief (with Professor Gary Watt, Warwick Law School) of Law and Humanities (Taylor & Francis)
  • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the ‘International Journal of Law in Context’ (CUP)
  • Member of Centre for Law, Policy and Society (CLPS), and an Associate Member of Health Ethics and Law (HEAL).
  • Co-convenor: SLSA Law and Literature
  • Editorial Board member: Sexes (MDPI)
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Guest Editor: Journal of Law and Society Vol 43(1) Law's Metaphors: Interrogating Languages of Law, Justice, and Legitimacy

Editor: Special theme in Sexually Transmitted Infections

Edition: 'Criminalizing Contagion' special theme in Sexually Transmitted Infections Vol.89(4)
Editorial: Criminalising contagion: ethical, legal and clinical challenges of prosecuting the spread of disease and sexually transmitted infections

Editor: Special issue of Medical Law International

Edition: 'Best Interests in an Age of Human Rights' special issue of Medical Law International Vol 13(1)
Editorial: 'Best interests in an age of human rights'

Guest Co-Editor: New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal

Edition: New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol 17(1) 
(Guest-edited with Imogen Jones)



Book Chapters


  • Co-module lead (with Mark Telford), and lecturer for Criminal Law (LAWS1020 and LAWS 2025).
  • Module convenor and teacher for all classes for ‘Violence and Sex in Law, Literature and Culture’ (LAWS3098)
Professor David Gurnham
Southampton Law School, Building 4 University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

Room Number : 4/3059

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