Recruiting an RA for work on the Proposed EU Directive on Combating Terrorism

IDI-logo1I am very pleased to be joining in the research team of the ERC-funded project “Proportionality in Public Policy“. This project is led by Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).

As part of this research project a working group is being organised, entitled “The Consideration of Rights in the Process of Developing Policy for Combating Terrorism”. The research group will run for approximately one year (roughly May 2016-July 2017).

As part of the research group, I will be conducting a case study on the topic of “The European Directive on Combating Terrorism: Human Rights in a Complex Policy Context”, alongside researchers conducting similar case studies in other jurisdictions.

As part of my participation in the working group, IDI will fund research assistance devoted to this case study for approximately 450 hours, and up to a maximum of €12,000 gross. Although recruited and supervised by me, the RA will enter an employment contract with IDI, and payment will be done directly by IDI to the RA. IDI maintains the possibility to end its employment contract with the RA, subject to providing due notice.

I am now inviting applications for this post. The RA contract will run for the duration of the working group, and it is expected that around 1.5 days per week would be devoted, on average, by the RA to the project. The work will require the RA to undertake extensive literature review, document collation, document review, timeline construction, and possibly interviews with associated transcription. The work will result in both a case study to be published on the IDI webpage and at least one major peer reviewed article, which may be coauthored by the RA and me. The RA should have a good awareness of the concept and law relating to proportionality in human rights law (preferably comparative perspectives thereon), EU law, and counter-terrorism, or the capacity to quickly acquire appropriate expertise in these fields. Research experience would be an advantage. The RA will also be able to work independently, to firm timelines, and to an extremely high standard.  S/he will be a curious, independent thinker with a clear interest in human rights, the EU, counter-terrorism, proportionality, policy making, or a combination of these. S/he will not necessarily be a lawyer.

The RA will not have any formal employment or other relationship with the University of Birmingham as a result of this post, although s/he may have access to UoB library and other resources as appropriate. The RA need not be based in Birmingham, although s/he should be available for regular meetings by Skype and, where possible, in person. No additional travel expenses will be paid beyond the core RA payment.

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Fiona de Londras at

Applicants should send (by email) a CV, a writing sample (up to a maximum of 8,000 words), and a covering letter outlining suitability for this post to Prof. de Londras at by 22 April 2016.




Participatory Research and PhD Study: New Chapter

Last autumn I was very pleased to go to the University of Limerick and present at their excellent conference on methodologies in law. The conference was aimed at doctoral students and there were many in attendance. I presented on participatory research: what is it? Why would you do it? What are the benefits, and the risks, of engaging in this approach to research? The organisers are now finalising an edited book coming from the conference, and I have written up my presentation as a short chapter. The chapter does not purport to tell people how to go about particular means of doing participatory research. Rather, it aims to open doctoral students’ minds to the possible benefits of doing participatory research and to the sets of questions that one might usefully work through when undertaking participatory research. The full chapter in its pre-print mode is available here, and it ends:

Originality is, of course, the Holy Grail of doctoral students. That the candidate has made an original contribution to knowledge is, at core, the basic requirement for being awarded the degree for which you have studied for at least (and often far more than) three years. Originality is also achievable in many means: there is no one right way to establish it. Certainly a well-constructed, curious, intelligent research question that pushes the boundaries of existing knowledge is more or less essential, but so is how one pursues the fundamental task of the PhD: pursuing that question through a well designed research project. In doing that, your choice of methodological approach is important, and participatory research can be an excellent framework for the acquisition of original knowledge, which is then processed, considered, analyzed and marshaled into an argument that constitutes an original contribution to knowledge. Participatory research can lend a new kind of authority to assumed knowledge, present real world heterodoxies to doctrinal orthodoxy, enrich a set of findings, and greatly enhance the originality and practicability of research findings. However, all of this can only be achieved if two conditions are met: (i) the research enquiry justifies the methodology, and (ii) the researcher engages seriously and carefully with the process and the participants.

‘Abandoning the Vanity of Lawyers’: Some Advice for New Law PhDs

Anglia_Ruskin_LogoI was very pleased yesterday to go to Cambridge and give the first of a new series of lectures to PhD students in Anglia Ruskin University. Over the year, the lecture series will bring a number of scholars to the University to speak to PhD students about particular research topics, ideally tailored for the audience. As the inaugural speaker in the series I had plenty of liberty in how I approached it, and so I thought I would reflect on the ten years of my research career (since I started my PhD in 2005). In doing so, I realised that a key lesson I have learned is that there is value in abandoning the vanity of lawyers: law is not always the answer. What I mean by that is a narrow field of enquiry that focuses only on doctrinal law without taking into account the context in which it operates and perspectives from cognate disciplines that will help us to understand the content, (in)adequacies and operation of law (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, philosophy/political theory, and psychology) can be limited and limiting. Continue reading ‘Abandoning the Vanity of Lawyers’: Some Advice for New Law PhDs