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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Dr Sean Thomas, LLB, PhD, PGCert, FHEA

Associate Professor in the Durham Law School
Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies, Durham Law School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 46849
Room number: PCL225

Contact Dr Sean Thomas (email at


Sean joined Durham University as a Senior Lecturer in August 2015, having previously held positions at the University of Leicester (2010-13, Lecturer in Commercial Law; 2013-15, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law) and Anglia Ruskin University (2008-10, Senior Lecturer in Law). He holds an LLB from Durham University and a PhD from the University of Manchester (where he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant). He also hold a PG Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Sean’s research concerns, broadly, the transfer of ownership of personal property. He approaches this fundamental issue from multiple disciplinary perspectives, particularly historical, comparative and doctrinal angles. He has expertise in title conflicts (particularly comparative analysis with United States law), the historical development of commercial law, and the interface between goods and intellectual property. He also has a longstanding interest in radical property practices, and his work on freeganism has been cited widely across disciplinary boundaries and has attracted media and other interest.

Most recently Sean has developed an interest in the implications of Circular Economy. He has written work looking generally at how circular economic thinking and law can complement each other, and how this may lead to problematic consequences, especially as a result of developments in smart technologies.

Sean has engaged with the Law Commission in their work on reforming Bills of Sale. He is also engaged in the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project, where he works with academics and practitioners in the specific area of priorities. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Wellcome Trust funded project on 'Everyday Cyborgs 2.0: Law's Boundary-work & Alternative Legal Futures' (PI: Prof M Quigely)


In 2018-19 Sean will be teaching Contract Law and Land Law at undergraduate level. At postgraduate level he will be teaching Advanced Law of Obligations and Applied Research Methods in Law.

Research Interests

  • Anglo-American Commercial Law
  • Circular Economy
  • Freeganism and Radical Property Practices
  • Legal History
  • Sale of Goods
  • Secured Transactions
  • Smart Technology


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