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Professor Thom Brooks



AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Dean 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, columnist, 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, as well as 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 SchoolLUISS 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 School, University of St Andrews, Uppsala 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.

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 Boulton, Colin BrazierKay Burley, Rosemary ChurchAnna Jones, Eddie MairAndrew Marr, Maxine MawhinneyDermot Murnaghan, Ann NybergBeverley O'Connor, Francois Pickard, John SimpsonJeremy Thompson, Nick 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. 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.

Current Research

Brooks's work ranges across several areas:

Citizenship & Immigration. Described as "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. 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. His key scholarship includes his books Becoming British (Biteback 2016) and Reforming the UK's Citizenship Test (Bristol University Press 2021). 

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

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), The Trust Factor (Methuen 2022) and Thinking Legally: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (Cambridge University Press, under contract).

Punishment & Sentencing. Brooks has developed innovative work on punishment and restorative justice, including his award winning 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. 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).

Research interests

  • Immigration Law & Policy
  • Global Justice & Human Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Political Philosophy
  • Restorative Justice
  • Sentencing
  • Public Policy
  • Capabilities
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Citizenship
  • Jurisprudence
  • 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 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

  • 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:
  • 2020: Academic Visitor, University of Chicago Law School:
  • 2020: Director, Labour Academic Network:
  • 2020: President, Society of Legal Scholars:
  • 2020: Visiting Professor, LUISS Guido Carli:
  • 2019: Academic Visitor, University of Pennsylvania Law School:
  • 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 (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 (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 (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). Law and Legal Theory. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Retribution. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Deterrence. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Juvenile Offending. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). New Waves in Global Justice. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Sentencing. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Shame Punishment. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Just War Theory. Leiden: Brill.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Rawls and Law. Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Justice and the Capabilities Approach. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Brooks, Thom (2011). New Waves in Ethics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brooks, Thom (2011). Global Justice and International Affairs. Leiden: Brill.
  • 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

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Brooks, Thom (2020). The UK citizenship test is closer to a bad pub quiz than a rite of passage. It has to be re-written. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). The Tory immigration system is broken – and these 10 new reasons prove it. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). How Labour’s next leader should approach House of Lords reform. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2020). Labour should make more use of supportive academics. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2019). Nigel Farage claims Leavers are the true democrats – this is why he’s wrong. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2019). I advised the Electoral Commission on Brexit – this is why Theresa May needs a new referendum to pass her deal. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2019). As a law professor, I believe John Bercow's Brexit decision is right. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2019). Why Theresa May's political career is stained. Northern Echo
  • Brooks, Thom (2019). Trump's Immigration Plans Won't Become Law, But They Will Be Popular With Supporters. Huffington Post
  • Brooks, Thom (2018). Our immigration system must be self-funded and sustainable post-Brexit. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2018). Good luck with the British citizenship test, Meghan Markle. It’s a mess. The Guardian
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was the easy part. The Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Net migration success is a hollow victory. The Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). The Home Office makes huge profits from immigrants. So where is the money going to? The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Demanding universities name their Brexit teachers is a bizarre attack on academic freedom. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). I'm known as the Brexit expert who said it would never actually happen. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Just in case Brexit wasn’t demoralising enough for immigrants, the Home Office is now charging them to send an email. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Mrs May must urgently address the exodus of UK citizens or risk undermining Brexit’s potential. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). May must reassemble the Brexit team in a grand, all-party coalition. The Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Here are five ways Theresa May can make immigration work for post-Brexit Britain. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). May doesn't have to wait for Brexit to cut immigration. The Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2017). Theresa May just quietly made a sinister deal about EU citizens which puts us on the fast track to a bad Brexit. The Independent
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Britain has acquired brakes that it cannot pull and red cards that aren't red at all. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). We are still waiting for our country to start a genuine debate about migration. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Where have Cameron’s promised reforms to EU membership gone? Solicitors Journal 160.
  • 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). We're not angry when politicians break promises - it's what we expect. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). How Theresa May could win back the public's trust on immigration. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Is the ‘persona’ veiling issues? The Northern Echo 15.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Jury's very much out on Gove's plans for prisons. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). It's less 'yes, we can' more 'well, we tried' from Obama. The Journal 23.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The legal war of words over the Calais jungle. Solicitors Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The UK citizenship test is becoming like a bad pub quiz and has to change. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). This campaign won on lies has created a poisonous atmosphere. The Journal 25.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Republicans becoming increasingly concerned about Trump victory. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). The big political developments we should look out for in 2016. The Journal 19.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). How Government set us on the road to the red doors. The Journal 27.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Immigration: The long and winding road to being British. Solicitors Journal 160(16): 17.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Telling the real story behind immigration figures. Solicitors Journal 160(24).
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). I swore an oath to Queen and country. Why must public officials be the only ones to do the same? Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). In the age of Byron Burgers, we are all border agents. International Business Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Breaking up is hard to do – especially when you have to fill out a government form. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Before and Again: Labour can forge new immigration policies that build on its past achievements. Fabian Review 128(1): 3.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). What should Theresa May do about immigration? A 6-point plan. Daily Telegraph 20.
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). It's a relief that the Jungle camp is closing. We must stop seeing Calais migrants as a French problem and show leadership. Daily Telegraph
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Let's reflect carefully before we leap ahead with another expensive mistake. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). You can already hear the Blairites saying 'I told you so' - and they might be right. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). ‘Unacceptable’ scenes in Calais: whose fault is that, Mr Cameron? The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The trolling and the tweeting is becoming a crisis. The Journal 23.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). John F. Kennedy was right. Ask not what your country can do for you. The Journal 18.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Waiting for a credible message of realistic optimism. The Journal (30 January 2015): 18.
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). General Election 2015: This election is all about insecurity. The Journal (26 February).
  • 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). And the big winner in the Labour leadership contest is.David Cameron. The Journal
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Don't let the Northern Powerhouse go the way of the Big Society. The Journal
  • Brooks, T. (2014). Durham University professor of Law and Government asks does English devolution open a Pandora’s Box? The Journal 4-5.
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Customs at Gretna Green? Neither Side is Telling the Whole Truth on This One. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Cornish pasties must be added to the UK citizenship test. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Calais migrant crisis must be a problem shared between France and Britain. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Immigration ministers need to know more about immigrants. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). UK citizenship test is inconsistent and riddled with errors. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Paper-hungry courts put on digital diet. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Immigration arrests are not a spectator sport. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Bad data underpins flawed health tourism report. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). ‘Polish precedent’ won’t work to forecast future EU migration. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2012). A Good Citizenship Bill. Progress 11.
  • Brooks, T. (2011). Better together. Times Higher Education (10 February): 26.
  • Brooks, T. (2011). Off piste - a Connecticut Yankee in King Alan's court. Times Higher Education (7 July): 44-46.
  • Brooks, T. (2007). Us against us in the land of Mahatma. Times Higher Education Supplement (29 June): 21.
  • Brooks, T. (2007). Defence of the jury is an open and shut case. Times Higher Education Supplement (2 March): 14.
  • Brooks, Thom (2006). Thought and deed born of idealism. Times Higher Education Supplement (20 October): 28-29.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Brooks, Thom (2016). A way forward on immigration. Progress
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). We can counter the claim that Brexit means taking back control of the UK’s borders. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Cameron’s immigration strategy is to govern through gimmicks. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). PMQs: David Cameron must apologise for his 'bunch of migrants' comment - it's not US vs THEM. International Business Times
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Brussels attacks: callous Brexit tweeters will lose the battle for hearts and minds. The Conversation
  • Brooks, Thom (2016). Cameron is over-complicating the EU referendum – Labour must argue to stay in despite his reforms. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The government isn't taking Calais seriously. Progress
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Abstaining on the welfare bill was sensible – Labour must keep its eyes on the prize: winning. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Labour must not be ‘squeamish’ about immigration. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The Calais migrant crisis is a bigger problem than you think. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). The Calais crisis highlights the poverty of Tory immigration policies. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). A house divided cannot stand. Can all these new groups help Labour win? LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). We’re punching below our weight until we acknowledge Tony Blair’s successes for our party. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Labour should lead on reforming citizenship rules. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). New migrant ‘health surcharge’ – an election stunt full of loopholes. LabourList
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Labour should lead on reforming citizenship rules. Labour List
  • Brooks, Thom (2015). Blairism isn't about moving right - it's about doing what's right. The New Statesman
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). On Punitive Restoration. Demos Quarterly (2).
  • Brooks, Thom (2014). Testing Citizens: The Pub Quiz Problem. Progress
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). Immigration insecurity. Progress
  • Brooks, Thom (2013). The "Life in the UK" test has morphed into a barrier to immigration. The New Statesman
  • Brooks, Thom (2002). The Calais crisis highlights the poverty of Tory immigration policies. LabourList

Other (Print)

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