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Durham Law School

Staff profile

Dr Matthew Nicholson, LLB (Sheffield, 2003), PgDip ('Bar Vocational Course', Northumbria, 2004), LLM (UCL, 2008), PhD (UCL, 2013), FHEA

Assistant Professor in International Law in the Durham Law School

Contact Dr Matthew Nicholson (email at


Matthew joined Durham Law School as Lecturer in International Law in September 2016. 

Before joining Durham he worked at the University of Southampton as Lecturer in Public International Law (2012-2016). 

Past experience includes work as a Teaching Fellow (LLB, Public International Law) at UCL (2010-11), and Research Assistant at the LSE (Grantham Research Institute / ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, 2009-10). Matthew completed pupillage in London and subsequently worked at the London office of a national law firm (he no longer practices).

Matthew's work has been published in specialist and generalist law journals with international reach. His 2015 article 'The Political Unconscious of the English Foreign Act of State and Non-Justiciability Doctrine(s)' won the International and Comparative Law Quarterly's 'Young Scholar Prize' (see for details). He has also published in Law and Literature, Law and Critique, and the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly.  

His research and teaching interests cover all aspects of international law, with particular interests in international legal theory (see the 2016 Law and Critique article, for example), international environmental law and policy (climate change in particular), the relationship between national and international law (see the 2015 ICLQ article), international human rights law (see the 2016 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly article), and the law on the use of force.

Research Interests

  • International Law
  • International Legal Theory
  • Legal Theory (in particular, critical approaches)
  • International Environmental Law
  • Foreign Relations Law (the relationship between national and international law)
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Law on the Use of Force
  • Law and Literature
  • Frankfurt School Critical Theory (in particular, the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno)

Selected Publications

Journal Article


Other (Digital/Visual Media)


  • Nicholson, Matthew (2016), 'Dress Code Formal or, Hegemony and International Legal Strategy', 25th Annual SLS-BIICL Conference on Theory and International Law: Beyond our comfort zone? Situating the authority of international lawyers, institutions, and other international actors. British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2015), 'The Political Unconscious of the English Foreign Act of State and Non-Justiciability Doctrine(s)' (presenting a 'work in progress' version of my 2015 ICLQ paper of the same title), International Law Association (British Branch) Spring Conference 2015. University of Essex, England.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2015), 'Walter Benjamin and the Re-imageination of International Law' (presenting my 2016 Law and Critique article), Institute for Global Law and Policy: The Conference 2015. Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2014), 'A History of Faith in International Environmental Law', Theorising and Historicising International Law and the Environment (workshop). University of Keele, England.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2014), 'Control, Representation, Violence and the Re-Imagination of International Law' (presenting a 'work in progress' version of my 2016 Law and Critique article), Durham Global Policy Institute Seminar Series. Durham University, England.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2011), 'Beyond Systems', Towards a Radical International Law (conference). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2011), 'Decon-figuring Borders, Re-Bordering Figures', Melbourne Law School Institute for International Law and the Humanities Seminar. Melbourne Law School, Australia.
  • Nicholson, Matthew (2010), 'Fragmentation, Lawyers and Choice', LSE-SOAS Postgraduate International Law Colloquium. SOAS, London.

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