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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
Fellow of University College  
Member of the Centre for the History of Political Thought  
Member of Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)  


Thom Brooks is an award-winning author, policy advisor and public speaker. He is Professor of Law and Government at Durham Law School where he was the inaugural and longest serving Dean (2016-21), and he is an Associate Member of Durham University’s Philosophy Department and School of Government & International Affairs.

Brooks has held visiting appointments at the University of Chicago Law School, Columbia University’s Columbia Law School, Harvard University’s Harvard Law School, LUISS Guido Carli’s Law School in Rome, New York University‘s Center for Bioethics, University of Nice (Cote d’Azur) Law School, University of Oxford (St John’s College), University of Pennsylvania Law SchoolUniversity of St AndrewsUppsala University and Yale Law School at Yale University. He’s on the advisory board of Universidade Nova de Lisboa – NOVA School of Law. Brooks taught previously at Newcastle University.

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). 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. 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. 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. 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). 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE & PUNISHMENT. Brooks has developed innovative work on punishment and restorative justice, including his book Punishment (Routledge 2012, revised second edition 2020) 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. 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. Since 2014, Brooks has advised the Labour Party primarily on immigration law and policy. 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. He is also a founding Director of the Labour Academic Network. His commercial trade book The Trust Factor collects his columns and op-eds for outlets like The Daily TelegraphThe GuardianThe IndependentNew StatesmanThe Times and others over the last two decades covering major issues in American politics and British politics. 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 Sky News and on 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), 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 ed 2013), Climate Change Ethics for an Endangered World (Routledge 2020) 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 Adam BoultonColin BrazierKay BurleyRosemary ChurchAnna JonesEddie MairAndrew MarrMaxine MawhinneyDermot MurnaghanAnn NybergBeverley O’ConnorFrancois PickardJohn 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 Director of the Labour Academic Network, an independent group of academics supporting Labour Party policy development, 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) and he is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA).

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
  • Constitutional Law

Research groups

  • Centre for Chinese Law and Policy
  • Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
  • Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy
  • Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy
  • Durham European Law Institute
  • Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law
  • Law and Global Justice at Durham

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: Principal Fellow, Higher Education Academy:
  • 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:
  • 0000: Visiting Professor, LUISS Guido Carli :


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

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

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Brooks, Thom (2018). Good luck with the British citizenship test, Meghan Markle. It’s a mess. The Guardian
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Republicans becoming increasingly concerned about Trump victory. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The legal war of words over the Calais jungle. Solicitors Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). What should Theresa May do about immigration? A 6-point plan. Daily Telegraph 20.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The UK citizenship test is becoming like a bad pub quiz and has to change. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The big political developments we should look out for in 2016. The Journal 19.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Those who choose to use to Brussels attacks to promote Brexit are trying to pull us apart. The Journal 25.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). This campaign won on lies has created a poisonous atmosphere. The Journal 25.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Where have Cameron’s promised reforms to EU membership gone? Solicitors Journal 160.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Telling the real story behind immigration figures. Solicitors Journal 160(24).
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). We are still waiting for our country to start a genuine debate about migration. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). We're not angry when politicians break promises - it's what we expect. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Voters can't be blamed for not wanting to go to the circus when all they see are clowns. The Journal (March): 16.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The trolling and the tweeting is becoming a crisis. The Journal 23.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Waiting for a credible message of realistic optimism. The Journal (30 January 2015): 18.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). You can already hear the Blairites saying 'I told you so' - and they might be right. The Journal
  • Brooks, T. (2011). Off piste - a Connecticut Yankee in King Alan's court. Times Higher Education (7 July): 44-46.
  • Brooks, T. (2007). Defence of the jury is an open and shut case. Times Higher Education Supplement (2 March): 14.
  • Brooks, T. (2007). Us against us in the land of Mahatma. Times Higher Education Supplement (29 June): 21.
  • Brooks, Thom (2006). Thought and deed born of idealism. Times Higher Education Supplement (20 October): 28-29.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Cameron is over-complicating the EU referendum – Labour must argue to stay in despite his reforms. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). We can counter the claim that Brexit means taking back control of the UK’s borders. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). We’re punching below our weight until we acknowledge Tony Blair’s successes for our party. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The government isn't taking Calais seriously. Progress
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). On Punitive Restoration. Demos Quarterly (2).

Other (Print)

Supervision students