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 completed 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, Law and New technologies, 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 several 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 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Ethics Committee and lead for Law and Ethics for the Digital Society Institute here at Keele. She is also an active member of the SLS and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Laura also helps run the Law Schools social media accounts and is the International Foundation Year Link Tutor for NAVITAS. 

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. In 2021, Laura signed a book contract with Routledge to publish her PhD as monograph, due to be published in Autumn 2023.

Laura has used her research 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. She is currently supervising a funded PhD student exploring ‘sexting’ and the law after successfully obtaining funding from North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership.

Currently, Laura is in the process of completing a MA Diploma in Higher Education, which is due to be completed in June 2023 and has successfully been awarded funding from the SLS to host a conference in May 2023 exploring 'Contemporary Social and Legal Issues in a Social Media-Age.'

Teaching

Undergraduate

  • Criminal Law (Module Leader)
  • Law and New Technologies (Module Leader)
  • Foundations of Law (Module Leader)
  • University Research Portfolio
  • Transnational Crime
  • Legal Essentials
  • Advanced Criminal Law
  • Social Media and the Law (2023/24)

Postgraduate

  • Safeguarding Adults
  • Contemporary Issues in Child Law

Laura has published extensively on social media, freedom of expression and the law.

Journal publications:

  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Prosecuting Communication Offences: The Harms Model’ (2022) 4 The Criminal Law Review 271-289
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2021) ‘Trials of the State: “Law and the Decline of Politics”’ 41(3) Legal Studies 511-514 (book review)
  • Bliss, L. (2020) ‘Students perceptions of assessed seminar performance in law’ 10(1) Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning 1-15
  • Bliss, L. (2019) ‘The Protection from Harassment Act 1997: Failures by the Criminal Justice System in a Social Media Age’ 83(3) Journal of Criminal Law 217-228
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘Social Media: A Theme Park just for Fools: Case Comment’ 82(4) Journal of Criminal Law 301-304
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘The Crown Prosecution Service Guidelines and Grossly Offensive Comments: An Analysis’ 9(2) Journal of Media Law 173-188 

Other publications:

  • Fay, Michael & Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Opinion: Not all journalistic content should be exempt from the Online Safety Bill’ Hacked Off 12 May 2022
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Online safety bill: ambiguous definitions of harm could threaten freedom of speech – instead of protecting it’ The Conversation 22 March 2022
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘The “new” offences added to the online safety bill are not really new – and could continue to fail victims of online abuse’ The Conversation 11 February 2022
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2020) ‘Behind the Curtains: Opening the Mystic of Academia’ The Digital Culture and Education Journal, 22 June 2020
  • Bliss, L. (2019) ‘Anti-bullying week: Social Media and the upcoming General Election’ The Birmingham Perspective 14 November 2019
  • Bliss, L. (2019) ‘Little Mix member Jesy Nelson confronts the harsh realities of online abuse- and she’s not alone’ The Conversation 18 September 2019
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘What Facebook isn’t telling us about its fight against online abuse’ The Conversation 21 May 2018
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘Everyone must tackle abuse on social media’ The Lancashire Post 6 January 2018
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘Online abuse on Facebook and Twitter can’t be solved by regulation alone’ The Conversation 18 December 2017
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘Can we protect our female politicians from social media abuse?’ Political Studies Association 25 September 2017 
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘Abuse of women MPs is not just a scandal – it’s a threat to democracy’ The Conversation 17 July 2017
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘Case comment: Why someone was sent to prison for taking photos of the Grenfell Tower victims’ The Legal Cheek 22 June 2017 – Shortlisted for Journal of the Year, Legal Cheek Awards March 2018

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Conferences and media

Laura has spoken extensively about her research in both the traditional academic setting and with media outlets.

Funded conference papers:

  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Embedding the harm principle in online regulation: the old age concern of freedom of expression versus the right to privacy’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, York University, 7 April 2022 (£SLSA bursary & Keele University Research Fund)
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘An abolitionist feminist approach to online abuse’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, York University, 7 April 2022 (SLSA bursary & Keele University Research Fund)  
  • Bliss, L. (2019) Historical Institutional Abuse: Misogyny Online’ Human Rights Centre Annual Postgraduate Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, 7 June 2019 (Edge Hill University Research Fund)
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘The Law, Social Media and the Victimisation of Women: A UK Study’ Social Media and Society Conference, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, 19 July 2018 (Edge Hill University Research Fund)
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘The Law and the Trolling of Women Online’ Sociology and Social Media: Problems and Prospects, Goldsmiths University, 2 December 2017 (Sociological Review)
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘The Law, Social Media and the Victimisation of Women’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Newcastle University, 5-7 April 2017 (Edge Hill University Research Fund)

Non-funded conference papers:

  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Revamping the traditional presentation: using technology to make a more inclusive environment’ Keele Education Conference 2022, Keele University, 14 January 2022
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2020) ‘Expanding the Field: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when it comes to Social Media’ Women in the Field, University of Birmingham, 10 September 2020 
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2020) ‘Legality, Social Media and the Criminal Law’ SLS Conference 2020, 4 September 2020 
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘#IsMisogynyTrending? Social Media Abuse and Trolling Women’ Festival of Ideas 2018, Edge Hill University, 2 June 2018  
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘The Law, Social Media and the Victimisation of Women’ Early Careers Research Conference, Edge Hill University, 5 July 2017 (Poster Presentation)
  • Bliss, L. (2017) ‘Feminist Research and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Overlaps and Synergies’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Newcastle University, 5-7 April 2017 (Joint Paper)
  • Bliss, L. (2015) ‘Non-justiciability: A Get Out of Jail Free Card?’ Department of Law and Criminology Research Seminar, Edge Hill University, 25 March 2015

Media:

  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Nadine Dorris, Tic Tok and the Online Safety Bill’ BBC Three Counties Radio, 27 May 2022
  • Barrett, A. (2022) ‘The Online Safety Bill: How the UK’s changing internet laws may affect you’ BBC Science Focus, 6 April 2022
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2022) ‘Teenager jailed for sending racist tweet to Marcus Rashford’ BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, 30 March 2022
  • Shone, E. (2021) ‘Why ending online anonymity is not the “quick solution” to social media abuse’ National World, 20 October 2021
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2021) ‘Racism and Social Media’ BBC Radio West Midlands, 13 July 2021
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2021) ‘Social Media Boycott’ BBC Radio West Midlands, 30 April 2021
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2021) ‘Social Media and the Law’ BBC Radio West Midlands, 18 March 2021
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2020) ‘Social Media Abuse’ Times Radio, 19 September 2020
  • Higson-Bliss, L. (2020) ‘The Big Questions- Do we put too much faith in technology?’ The BBC, Salford, 10 March 2020
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘#IsMisogynyTrending? Social Media Abuse and Trolling Women’ Edge Hill University,  24 May 2018 (podcast)
  • Bliss, L. (2018) ‘The Big Questions- Is Social Media Beyond Control?’ The BBC, Bath Spa University, 25 February 2018 

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