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Professor Thom Brooks

Professor of Law and Government


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor of Law and Government in the Durham Law SchoolPCL211+44 (0) 191 33 44365


Thom Brooks is an award-winning author, policy advisor and public speaker.

Brooks is Professor of Law and Government at Durham Law School where he was the inaugural and longest serving Dean (2016-21) and an Associate Member of Durham University's Philosophy Department and School of Government & International Affairs. He has written 8 books, edited 30 books and published over 150 journal articles or book chapters since 2001. Brooks is currently a Senior Associate Research Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) at the University of London.

Brooks has held visiting appointments at the University of Chicago Law SchoolColumbia Law SchoolHarvard Law SchoolLUISS Guido Carli in Rome, New York University Centre for Bioethics, University of Nice (Cote d'Azur) Law School, University of Oxford Faculty of Philosophy (and St John's College, Oxford), University of Pennsylvania Law SchoolUniversity of St Andrews Department of Moral Philosophy, Uppsala University Department of Government and Yale Law School

Current Research

Brooks’s work ranges across several areas:

CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION. Described as "a leading authority on immigration law and policy" and "the UK's leading expert" on Britain's the Life in the UK citizenship test, Brooks is the author of the only comprehensive report examining it (brief, report, video). In 2022, the Fabian Society published his pamphlet New Arrivals that outlines a post-Brexit, points-based immigration system from entry to exit for a Labour government under the leadership of Labour leader Keir Starmer. Brooks's pamphlet applies Starmer's immediately preceding Fabian pamphlet to immigration law and policy and it won the Fabian Society's Jenny Jeger Prize. With over 60 policy recommendations, POLITICO describes it as "the first major pamphlet on Labour’s immigration policy for over a decade". His key scholarship includes his books Becoming British (Biteback 2016) and Reforming the UK's Citizenship Test (Bristol University Press 2022). He also wrote a report Sea Change on Border Control on the causes of the small boat crossings in the English Channel and how they might be reduced (a video about the report has been watched over 4 million times). Brooks’s April 2023 report on the Life in the UK test found new factual errors, new problems with test materials and raised new concerns with monitoring with recommendations on how all of these areas could be improved.

His work has been regularly cited in Parliamentary debates and he has given evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, and its final report lists 7 recommendations made by Brooks on revising English requirements, an overhaul of the UK citizenship test, launching a new advisory group and much more. These recommendations were emphatically supported in a follow-up report from the House of Lords Liaison Committee, citing Brooks's evidence and contributions. In 2022, the House of Lords' Justice and Home Affairs Committee agreed to launch an inquiry into the Life in the UK test on Brooks's recommendation and this inquiry examined the government in light of his criticisms of the test as like a bad pub quiz, which he was asked to give evidence and agreed with all of Brooks's key recommendations for a new test--and the government has confirmed it will review and produce a new fourth edition as Brooks advocated for since 2013. He has contributed to All-Party Parliamentary Group reports and his recommendations were taken up by a Law Commission review of the Immigration Rules. Brooks is a member of the Office for National Statistics Government Statistical Service Migration Expert Group, working with the Home Office, other key government departments and devolved administrations. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE & PUNISHMENT. Brooks has developed innovative work on punishment and restorative justice, including his book Punishment (Routledge 2012, 2nd edition 2021) launched in the Houses of Parliament that develops a new theory -- the "unified theory" of punishment -- identified by Research Councils UK as one of the top 100 Big Ideas for the Future in British universities. John Gardner describes my work in Punishment as: "whose grasp of the literature and feel for the issues is second to none" and it is described by Rutgers' Criminal Law & Criminal Justice books: "Thom Brooks’ Punishment is a rare thing: a book about a complex and important topic that is both of interest for experts and accessible to non-experts." Brooks has pioneered a new "punitive restoration" approach to better embed restorative justice into the criminal justice system.

Brooks has argued for a set of policies to more effectively tackle fraud and economic crime – and better support victims. His recommended reforms include a new offence of failure to prevent to ensure organizations are held accountable. In April 2023, the Government confirmed its support for a new failure to prevent offence.

His research on capital punishment is quoted approvingly by the Connecticut Supreme Court in support of the "watershed" case State v. Santiago (Santiago II), 318 Conn. 1, 105 (2015) abolishing the death penalty in his native state of Connecticut. Brooks was a member of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) North East Community Involvement Panel. Brooks's work on jury trials is cited in U.S. v Polizzi (E.D.N.Y. 2008). He is former Director of Durham Law School's Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice and former Crown Prosecution Service North East-Community Panel member advising on old cases. 

PUBLIC POLICY. Brooks advises on home affairs and justice policies. He has argued for an Advisory Group on citizenship and immigration, revised citizenship ceremonies, Migration Impacts Reduction Fund, revised citizenship test and a focus on impacts instead of net migration targets and much more. Brooks's research has helped expose serious flaws in the government's immigration strategy. His work has He also advises the award-winning BBC One drama "Call the Midwife" and the BBC One programme "Rip Off Britain" on immigration-matters. His work on policy is widely cited in the UK and abroad, including research on behavioural economics and public policy for a recent report for Ireland's Ministry of Justice.

His commercial trade book The Trust Factor collects his columns and op-eds for outlets like The Daily TelegraphThe GuardianThe Independent, New StatesmanThe Times and others over the last two decades covering major issues in American politics and British politics - and it is quoted in the House of Lords Queen's Speech Debate in 2022. Brooks has been called "the man behind Leave and Remain" by ITV for having advised and been quoted by the Electoral Commission in its report on why the planned European Union Referendum should be reworded, which the Commission and David Cameron's government accepted. He was a "Brexpert" on Brexit matters for the UK's Sky News and USA's CNN.

POLITICAL & LEGAL PHILOSOPHY. Brooks is well known for his work on global justice (including climate change), Rawls and history of philosophy, focussing especially on Kant and Hegel. His key scholarship includes The Global Justice Reader (Blackwell 2008, 2nd edition 2023), The Oxford Handbook of Global Justice (Oxford University Press 2020), Rawls's Political Liberalism (edited with Martha C. Nussbaum, Columbia University Press 2015) and several monographs: Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right (Edinburgh University Press 2007, 2nd edition 2013), Climate Change Ethics for an Endangered World (Routledge 2020), Global Justice: An Introduction (Blackwell, in press) and Thinking Legally: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (Cambridge University Press, under contract).

Brooks appears frequently on television, radio and in print media with 2,000+ media appearances as a highly sought after commentator and expert. His general research interests are in ethics, law and public policy. He has been interviewed by Stig AbellClive AndersonAdam BoultonColin BrazierClive BullKay BurleyRosemary ChurchAnna JonesEddie MairAndrew MarrMaxine MawhinneyDermot MurnaghanAnn NybergBeverley O’ConnorFrancois PickardJaynie SealJohn SimpsonJeremy ThompsonNick Watt and Andrew Wilson among others.

Brooks is a an elected Executive Committee member of the Fabian Society, the UK’s oldest think tank, taking Keir Starmer’s vacated place when he became leader of the Labour Party, and an Executive Committee member of the Society of Labour Lawyers. Brooks is a member of the Academia Europaea (Academy of Europe), European Law Institute member and an Academic Bencher of the Honourable Society of Inner Temple. He was the 112th President of the of the Society of Legal Scholars, the oldest and largest learned society for academic lawyers. Brooks is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (RHisS), Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a Fellow of the Howard League for Penal Reform and he is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA). Brooks received the Dean's Award in 2022 from Durham Law School. His past awards include Distinguished Alumni Award from Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies, the Professor Magennis Memorial Prize from University College Dublin, the Distinguished Student Award from William Paterson University and he has won all three teaching awards at Durham University: the Law School's Law Teacher of the Year, Durham Students' Union's Lecturer of the Year in his Faculty and the University's Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award. He has also won a graduate essay prize from the Hegel Society of Great Britain.

Research interests

  • Immigration Law & Policy
  • Global Justice & Human Rights
  • Penal Theory & Ethics
  • Political & Legal Philosophy
  • Law & Public Policy
  • Criminal Law
  • Restorative Justice
  • Capabilities
  • Citizenship
  • British Politics
  • Labour Party
  • Constitutional Law

Research groups

  • Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
  • Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy

Awarded Grants

  • 2019: Modern Law Review Scholarship - Ugo Nwosu-Iheme(£5000.00 from Modern Law Review)
  • 2018: ESRC IAA Mentor for the Capacity Building Scheme Mentoring Impact Scheme(£500.00 from ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN))
  • 2017: ESRC IAA 2017 Mentoring Impact Scheme - MENTOR(£500.00 from ESRC)
  • 2016: IAA - Impact Mentoring Scheme(£500.00 from ESRC)
  • 2015: Reforming the 'Life in the UK' test(£2660.00 from ESRC)

Esteem Indicators

  • 2022: Jenny Jeger Prize:
  • 2022: Principal Fellow, Higher Education Academy:
  • 2022: Visiting Professor, LUISS Guido Carli :
  • 2021: Chair, LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law) Consortium :
  • 2021: Elected Member, Academia Europaea:
  • 2021: Executive Committee, Fabian Society:
  • 2021: Executive Committee, Society of Labour Lawyers:
  • 2021: Member, Committee on Public Philosophy, American Philosophical Association:
  • 2021: Member, European Law Institute:
  • 2021: Member, Office for National Statistics (ONS) cross-Government Statistical Service (GSS) Migration Expert Group:
  • 2021: Trustee, British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL): Member, Finance and Audit Committee, BIICL


  • 2020: Academic Visitor, University of Chicago Law School:
  • 2020: Director, Labour Academic Network:
  • 2020: President, Society of Legal Scholars:
  • 2020: President, Society of Legal Scholars:
  • 2020: Visiting Professor, LUISS Guido Carli:
  • 2019: Academic Visitor, University of Pennsylvania Law School:
  • 2019: Vice President, Society of Legal Scholars:
  • 2019: Visiting Professor, University of Nice (Cote d'Azur):
  • 2019: Visiting Scholar, Bioethics, New York University:
  • 2019: Visiting Scholar, Columbia Law School, Columbia University:
  • 2018: Academic Bencher, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple:
  • 2017: Distinguished Alumni Award, Arizona State University:
  • 2015: Visiting Fellow, Yale Law School, Yale University:
  • 2015: Visitor, Harvard Law School, Harvard University:
  • 2012: Fellow, Royal Society of Arts:
  • 2012: Visiting Scholarship, St John's College, Oxford:
  • 2011: Visiting Fellow, Department of Government, Uppsala University:
  • 2010: Academic Visitor, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford:
  • 2010: Fellow, Royal Historical Society:
  • 2009: Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences:
  • 2009: Chair, Committee on Philosophy and Law, American Philosophical Association: Served as Chair from 2009-2012
  • 2008: Secretary, Association for Political Thought (UK): Secretary (2008-2012) of founding committee
  • 2006: Executive Board Member, Political Studies Association: Executive Board Member (2006-2009)
  • 2006: Member of the Council, Hegel Society of Great Britain:
  • 2004: Visiting Fellow, CEPPA, Philosophy, University of St Andrews:


Authored book

  • Brooks, Thom (2023). Global Justice: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Brooks, Thom (2022). New Arrivals: A Fair Immigration Plan for Labour. London: Fabian Society.
  • Brooks, Thom (2022). Reforming the UK's Citizenship Test: Building Barriers, Not Bridges. Bristol University Press.
  • Brooks, Thom (2022). The Trust Factor: Essays on the Current Political Crisis and Hope for the Future. Methuen.
  • Brooks, Thom (2021). Punishment: A Critical Introduction, Second Edition. Routledge.
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). Climate Change Ethics for an Endangered World. Routledge.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined. London: Biteback Publishing.
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right, 2d edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Punishment. London: Routledge.
  • Brooks, Thom (2007). Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Brooks, Thom (2023). The Global Justice Reader, Revised Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Brooks, Thom (2023). The Symposium by Plato. South Asia Press.
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). Plato's The Republic. South Asia Press.
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). The Oxford Handbook of Global Justice. Oxford University Press.
  • Brooks, Thom & Stein, Sebastian (2017). Hegel's Political Philosophy: On the Normative Significance of Method and System. Oxford University Press.
  • Brooks, Thom & Nussbaum, Martha C. (2015). Rawls's Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Current Controversies in Political Philosophy. Routledge.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Alcohol and Public Policy. Contemporary Issues in Social Science. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Law and Legal Theory. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Retribution. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Deterrence. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Shame Punishment. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Sentencing. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). New Waves in Global Justice. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Juvenile Offending. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Just War Theory. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Rawls and Law. Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Justice and the Capabilities Approach. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2011). Global Justice and International Affairs. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2011). New Waves in Ethics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2011). Ethics and Moral Philosophy. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2009). The Right to a Fair Trial. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2008). The Global Justice Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Brooks, Thom & Freyenhagen, Fabian (2007). The Legacy of John Rawls. London: Continuum.
  • Brooks, Thom (2007). Locke and Law. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2005). Rousseau and Law. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Journal Article

Other (Print)

Supervision students