Biography

Laura graduated from Edge Hill University in 2013 with a degree in Law (LLB Hons) and completed an LLM by Research in 2016. Her Master’s focused on justiciability and the UK judiciaries approach to understanding when a matter is outside the jurisdiction of the court. In 2019, Laura submitted her PhD thesis ‘Legality, Social Media and the Criminal Law’, which explores the criminal laws application to inappropriate behaviour online. She has presented her research both nationally and internationally.

Laura joined Keele Law School in 2021 as a Lecturer in Law, having previously held a Teaching Fellowship at the University of Birmingham. Prior to that, Laura was a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) at Edge Hill University. She has extensive teaching experience in Criminal Law, Media Law, Human Rights and Criminal Justice and Public Law.

Laura has twice appeared as a panellist on the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ as an expert on social media and freedom of expression. She has been interviewed on several occasions for both local and national radio on the impacts of online abuse. She has also had a number of publications with The Conversation.

Laura, alongside other colleagues at Edge Hill University, has worked with Cheshire Police to help create a teaching scheme for young people on the dangers of legal highs. She has also conducted teaching sessions with young people looking at the legal ramifications of irresponsible social media usage.

Laura is a member of the SLS and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research and scholarship

Laura’s research primarily focuses on the use of the criminal law to control inappropriate behaviour online, in particular, online abuse. Her PhD explores several Acts of Parliament including, though not limited to, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Communications Act 2003 and how they are used by law enforcement to curtail unlawful behaviour on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Her thesis argues that the current adaptation of these Acts in a social media context breaches the basic principle of legality in the criminal law. Laura has recently used the findings of her PhD to submit evidence to the Law Commission and the House of Lords enquiry into Freedom of Expression. Laura’s research interests fall broadly within the scope of social media and the law (both criminal and civil), human rights and policing and public law, in particular, legality and the rule of law.

Laura is happy to supervise students working in the fields of social media regulation, freedom of expression and/or the right to privacy, policing and online abuse.

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching:

  • tbc

Postgraduate Teaching:

  • tbc

Further information

Laura is currently completing a project funded by BILETA entitled ‘Understanding Social Media Abuse Laws: A qualitative study of police officers’ knowledge of laws governing online abuse aided by social media.’

The purpose of the study is to examine how police officers currently understand the laws applicable to social media abuse. Using semi-structured interviews with police officers, she will examine how well the law is currently understood by officers when it comes to online abuse. Here, vignettes will be used from case examples obtained from the wider literature and her PhD.

This project is currently undergoing ethical clearance. 

Introducing our staff - Dr Laura Higson-Bliss