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Professor of Law and Government in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 44365
Fellow of University College in the Durham Law School
Member of the Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy in the Durham Law School
Member of the Durham Law School
Associate in the School of Government and International Affairs
Associate in the Department of Philosophy 


Thom Brooks is Professor of Law and Government at Durham University’s Law School and its longest-serving Dean from 2016 to 2021 (with Associate Membership in the Philosophy Department and School of Government & International Affairs). He is the founding editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy and serves on 20 editorial boards including Hegel BulletinJournal of Criminal LawJournal of Global Ethics among others and 10 book series.

Brooks is visiting Yale Law School in spring 2024. He has held past visiting positions 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 and has been a Senior Associate Research Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) at the University of London. He worked previously at Newcastle University as Lecturer in Political Theory (2004-7) and Reader in Political and Legal Philosophy (2007-12).


Professor Thom Brooks
Awards and Distinctions

Durham University Awards

  • Dean’s Award, Durham Law School, 2022
  • Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, Durham University, 2016
  • Law Teacher of the Year, Durham Law School, 2015
  • Lecturer of the Year, Faculty of Social Sciences and Health, 2014
  • Outstanding Contributions to Media Award, Faculty of Social Sciences and Health, 2013
Major Publications
Brooks books

Brooks recently published New Arrivals outlining a comprehensive post-Brexit points-based system for a Keir Starmer-led Labour government. It won the Fabian Society's prestigious Jenny Jeger Prize for outstanding Fabian publication of the year, and described by POLITICO as "the first major pamphlet on Labour's immigration policy for over a decade." His previous publications on citizenship and immigration include Becoming British (2016), described by Labour Party leader Keir Starmer MP as "a very good and thought-provoking read" and Reforming the UK's Citizenship Test (2022) which contributed to a parliamentary inquiry by the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

Brooks published a substantially revised and expanded second edition of his book Punishment (2012, 2nd ed 2021) launched in the Houses of Parliament. This work develops a new "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 described this work in this way: "whose grasp of the literature and feel for the issues is second to none" and Rutgers' Criminal Law & Criminal Justice book review said: "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's related work 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.

His other major publications include Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right (2007, 2nd ed 2013) that develops a new "systematic" approach to interpreting Hegel that is showcased in Hegel’s Political Philosophy: On the Normative Significance of Method and System (co-edited with Sebastian Stein). He is co-editor (with Martha C. Nussbaum) of Rawls's Political Liberalism (2015) with contributors including Frank I. Michelman, Onora O'Neill, Jeremy Waldron, Paul Weithman, Nussbaum and Brooks described as " leading political, moral, and legal theorists" in "this jewel of a collection". Brooks has also published widely in the area of global justice, including The Oxford Handbook of Global Justice (2020), The Global Justice Reader (2008, rev ed 2023) and its companion Global Justice: An Introduction (2023) where his work is noted being a "pioneer" of cross-cultural "global" approach to global justice.

Current Projects

UK Immigration Law & Policy: 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) and successfully advocated for the inclusion of British culture and history in the test. His recommendations have been supported by the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement (2018), the House of Lords Liaison Committee (2022) and the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee leading to an inquiry that examined issues raised in his work and adopting many of his recommendations for reforms. The Government confirmed it will produce a new fourth edition.

Brooks's evidence is widely cited in the Law Commission's review of a simplification of the Immigration Rules which was accepted by the Government that will lead to fundamental reforms. Brooks has contributed to reviews into the use of landing cards and border controls. His recently invited written evidence is cited with approval in the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into the use of electronic border management systems, including the launch of Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs). Brooks is cited in the Committee's conclusions and recommendations to Government.

Brooks is a member of the Office for National Statistics Government Statistical Migration Expert Group working with the Home Office, other key government departments and devolved administrations. His report Sea Change on Border Control about small boat crossings in the English Channel has been discussed in Parliament (and a video about the report seen over 6 million times). Brooks's impactful research revealed the UK government were granting asylum to Rwandans while at the same time claiming Rwanda was safe for all asylum seekers arriving to Britain, whereas the government advocated all would be relocated to Rwanda. Brooks also uncovered that the UK was granting asylum to Americans. He currently works on reforming the wider immigration system as well as the Life in the UK test as part of an improved integration strategy.

Brooks advised the award-winning BBC One drama Call the Midwife and the BBC One programme Rip Off Britain on immigration-related matters. He has also advised the UK's Home Office on rolling out parts of its National Security Act 2022, which he was thanked in Parliament for his work supporting Labour about the Act.

Crime and Punishment: Brooks has developed policies for tackling fraud and economic crime and better support for victims. He is currently writing on theories of punishment with interest in the historical development of what he's coined 'penal pluralism' and its contemporary relevance. He was a member of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) North East Community Involvement Panel. Brooks has also supported the work of the UK's Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

Philosophy & Public Policy: Brooks has broad interests in this area. His book The Trust Factor collects his columns and op-eds from over two decades covering major issues in American politics and British politics - and quoted in the House of Lords Queen's Speech Debate in 2022. ITV News called him "the man behind Leave and Remain" after he was 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. His work supporting legal reforms has been noted, most recently in relation to the National Security Act. Brooks is currently under contract for a major new book on jurisprudence. He has given written and oral evidence to the Labour Party's National Policy Forum.

Professional Service
Prof Brooks on BBC One

Brooks is Chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Public Philosophy (since 2023). He previously chairs its Committee on Philosophy and Law (2009-12), was an elected member of the Political Studies Association Executive Board (2006-9) and he was the 112th President of the of the Society of Legal Scholars (2020-21), the oldest and largest learned society for academic lawyers. Brooks has served on the Fabian Society and Society of Labour Lawyers executive committees, both are Labour Party think tanks. He is an Academic Bencher of Inner Temple and former chair of the Academy of Finland Philosophy Panel and former trustee of the British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL). He has supervised 9 PhD and 3 MJur students to completion. Brooks has 2,000+ media appearances since 2013 regularly appearing on television, radio or print.

Brooks was Durham’s longest serving Dean 2016 to 2021 and the only head of department to win three successive elections to be head of department. During this time, Durham Law School doubled in size, reached its highest QS World Ranking (40th) and National Student Survey results (93% overall satisfaction), achievements recognised in an Early Day Motion tabled in the House of Commons, the School received an Athena Swan Bronze Award, championed diversity vastly increasing students from low participation neighbourhoods and led a major rise in externally funded awards/prizes and student placements including launching a Leo Blair Prize for Advocacy with his son former Prime Minister Tony Blair and establishing an All-Party Parliamentary Group for the university.

Recent Talks

3-5 September 2024  Speaker, "Dean's Dilemma: Rethinking Theory and Practice in the Law School," Society of Legal Scholars annual conference, University of Bristol, UK.

25 June 2024  Invited speaker, Ministry of Justice workshop series, UK.

21 June 2024  Keynote speaker, "Punitive Restoration," Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice Workshop, Aarhus Centre for Conflict Management, Aarhus University, Denmark.

20 June 2024  Invited speaker, Royal Danish Society of Science and Letters, Copenhagen, Denmark.

6-7 June 2024  Keynote speaker, Testing for Citizenship, 10th Annual  Equality and Citizenship Summer School, Croatia.

6 June 2024  Public lecture, "How Not to Save the Planet," Opatija Coffeehouse Debates, Croatia.

15 March 2024  Invited speaker, Festschrift for Robert Stern, Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, UK.

25 January 2024  Invited seminar speaker; Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs; Departments of Philosophy; the University of St Andrews, UK.

6 October 2023  Invited speaker, ‘Debate: This House Has No Confidence in His Majesty’s Government’, Durham Union Society, UK. Participants include Stephen Kinnock MP, Sir Robert Buckland KC MP and Huw Merriman MP.

28 September 2023 Keynote speaker, “The Unified Theory of Punishment,” Norwegian Association for Legal Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway.

10-11 July 2023 Invited speaker, “Just War and Self-Defence,” Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Freiburg, Germany.

  • Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Sheffield, Department of Philosophy
  • M.A. in Philosophy, University College Dublin, School of Philosophy
  • M.A. in Political Science, Arizona State University, School of Politics and Global Studies
  • B.A. Music and Political Science (dual major), William Paterson University of New Jersey, Departments of Music and of Political Science

Research interests

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

Esteem Indicators

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


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


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)

Supervision students