Centre for Law Ethics and Society

Head of Centre : Professor Tsachi Keren-Paz
PGR Director:  Professor Alex Sharpe


The Research Centre for Law, Ethics and Society
(CLES) brings together Keele’s ethicists and legal academics.

Keele University has a long-standing reputation for excellence in socio-legal scholarship and in moral philosophy and applied ethics, and the Centre aims to build upon and enhance both traditions. It supports longstanding areas of research strength (e.g. Bioethics, Gender Sexuality and Law), while encouraging newer research clusters (e.g. Globalisation and International Law).

The Centre also aims to provide a supportive environment for individuals pursuing research outside these groupings and recognises that individual and mono-disciplinary scholarship in law and ethics is just as important and valuable as collaborative and multi-disciplinary work.

Nonetheless, the Centre does aim to bridge some of the divides between its core subject areas and (other) social science and humanities subjects. Hence, as well as undertaking traditional doctrinal work in law, many members are engaged in socio-legal research, in other studies of legal phenomena which are multi- or inter-disciplinary, or in research that applies ethics scholarship to professional practice or public policy. The Centre also encourages research that crosses the boundaries between ethics and law: for example, work on medical law and bioethics.

Recent Research Grant Highlights

Stephen Wilkinson, together with Rosamund Scott of King’s College London, is the recipient of a Wellcome Senior Investigator Award.  This will support a five-year programme of work on the Donation and Transfer of Human Reproductive Materials.

Rosie Harding and Ruth Fletcher have recently been awarded an AHRC Research Networking Grant for a project entitled ReValuing Care: Perspectives from Gender, Sexuality and Law.

In 2010, CLES hosted a Leverhulme Visiting Professor (Dr Martin Wilkinson from the University of Auckland, New Zealand).

Sheelagh McGuinness, Michael Thomson, Tom Walker, and Stephen Wilkinson have organised seminars at Keele sponsored by the Wellcome Trust (one on Conscientious Objection, another of Organ Donation).

Jonathan Hughes and Philip Stenning organised a workshop on Ethical Policing, sponsored by the British Academy, in December 2010.

Several CLES members have been awarded AHRC Research Leave Awards in the last few years (for example, Marie Fox’s Regulating Male Circumcision: an ethico-legal critique and Stephen Wilkinson’s Ethical Arguments against Selective Reproduction: a philosophical analysis).

Andrew Francis’s recent research includes a project funded by the Nuffield Foundation (with Iain McDonald of the University of West England) exploring the experiences and aspirations of part-time law students, and a UK Centre for Legal Education funded project (with Professor Hilary Sommerlad) which analyses the role that ‘legal work experience’ plays in both mediating access to the profession and in socialisation.

Rosie Harding coordinates CentreLGS PECANS.  This is an international, interdisciplinary network of early career scholars working in the field of law, gender and sexuality and is funded under the ESRC’s International Training and Networking Opportunities for Early Career Scholars scheme (http://www.clgs-pecans.org.uk/).  Dr Harding has also recently held a British Academy grant to support a project entitled Duties to care: a socio-legal exploration of caring for people with dementia.

Professor Stephen Wilkinson presently holds a Wellcome Trust Dissemination Award in Biomedical Ethics.

Finally, the Centre is home to a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellow in Biomedical Ethics (Dr Joanne Gordon, supervised by Tom Walker and Stephen Wilkinson).

Members of the Research Centre for Law, Ethics and Society