Mr Neil Cobb

Senior Lecturer in Law

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Research Overview

My current research is focused on the evolution of global sexual rights advocacy and especially its interrelationship with international HIV prevention and strategies and the 'health and human rights' movement. I have published widely in this area in international journals and edited collections, including the Jindal Global Law Review (2012) and the Handbook of LGBT Communities, Crime and Justice (Petersen and Panfil 2014). I am also working on a monograph in this area to be published by Routledge.

In addition, I research more broadly on LGBT and queer legal theories (including 'queer' responses to religious objections to LGBT rights), and on critical and feminist approaches to criminal liability. In these areas I have published in journals including Legal StudiesSocial and Legal Studies and Journal of Law and Society and several edited collections. I was also part of the UK Feminist Judgments Project (Rackley, Hunter and McGlynn) in 2009/10.

I have organised a number of conferences related to these interests, including Sexuality, Hatred and Law (Durham 2008, with Professor Gavin Phillipson), The Coroners and Justice Act 2009: Panacea or Pandora’s Box for the Partial Defences? (Durham 2010, with Professors Alan Reed and Michael Bohlander), Gender, Sexuality and Faith (Durham 2012) and Campus Feminisms (Newcastle 2015, with Dr. Nikki-Godden Rasul). I also convened the "Women and Brexit" stream of the Brexit, Regulation and Society conference held at Manchester in 2017.

In 2018/19 I will embark on a funded project (HSIF £13,000) with Professor Jenny Morgan at the University of Melbourne on comparing and evaluating legal and regulatory responses to campus sexual violence. This will build on my work with Dr. Nikki Godden-Rasul (Newcastle) on "campus feminisms" ("Campus Feminisms" workshop event, Newcastle University (2015); Feminist Legal Studies (2017); my role in 2017/18 as co-chair of the University's Task and Finish Group on Sexual Violence and Harassment; and recent work (in press, Common Law World Review) on the use of the UK Human Rights Act as a legal tool to hold universities to account for their response to campus rape.

I also write on land and housing law and social justice. I have co-authored a book on property law in the "Great Debates" series by Palgrave Macmillan (currently in its second edition). I've also written a number of pieces on law, property and housing and the marginalized, including articles and chapters (sometimes with Professor Lorna Fox-O'Mahony) on legal approaches to the practice of squatting in England and Wales. These can be found in Legal StudiesModern Law ReviewCriminal Law Review and the edited collection "Vulnerable Demons?" (O'Mahony, Fox-O'Mahony, Hickey 2014). My work on squatting and adverse possession with Professor Fox-O'Mahony was favourably cited by the Northern Ireland Law Commission in its recent proposals to reform the law of adverse possession in that jurisdiction (2010). 

I have previously secured external research funding from the British Academy (Small Grants and Overseas Travel), as well as internal funding from e.g. the Manchester Humanities Strategic Investment Fund (H-SIF).

I have delivered conference papers, including invited papers and keynotes, across all these research areas, in the UK, United States, South America, and Europe.

I am an active member of the Manchester Centre for Regulation and Public Law (ManReg), part of ManReg's organising committee, the lead scholar for ManReg's "Vulnerability" research theme, and a member of the School of Law's Research Committee.

Teaching Practice

I love teaching and have a longstanding reputation for high quality delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate legal education. My main teaching areas are:

  • Criminal Law
  • Law, Gender and Sexuality
  • Land Law

For several years I have convened the UG course units Criminal Law and Law, Gender and Sexuality, both at Manchester and Durham University. 

I am External Examiner for the law programmes at the University of Kent, and have previously externalled at the Universities of York and Newcastle.

I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and have a track record of innovative teaching and learning practice. In 2014 I was awarded funding as part of the University's Social Responsibility in the Curriculum scheme to hold a mini-conference for students in LGS. In 2016/18 I was part of the Law School's "Law21" Curriculum Review process.

I have supervised several research masters and doctoral students, in the following areas:

  • Pre-menstrual disorder as a criminal defence (PhD Manchester, ongoing)
  • Defences to murder for abused women who kill (MJur Durham)
  • Vacant possession in property conveyancing (PhD Durham)
  • Young people and anti-social behaviour (MJur Durham)
  • Sexual history evidence and rape trials (MJur Durham)

I welcome new postgraduate research students across my research and teaching fields.

Employment History

I joined the School of Law at Manchester in September 2012. Prior to this I was Lecturer in Law at Durham University, appointed in 2005.

From 2003-04 I was a Research Assistant to the Public Law Team at the Law Commission of England and Wales supporting a project on housing law reform.

External Responsibilities/ Appointments

I have been a Peer Reviewer for the following outlets: 

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Routledge-Cavendish
  • New Criminal Law Review
  • British Council
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Feminist Legal Studies
  • Legal Studies

I have been actively involved in community engagement activities related to my research. Between 2008-12 I was Independent Legal Advisor to the north-east England Crown Prosecution Service Homophobic/ Transphobic Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel. 

I am a member of the Society of Legal Scholars and the Socio-Legal Studies Association.

External positions

Visiting Scholar, The University of Melbourne

1 Oct 201830 Sep 2019

Visiting Scholar, Centre for Feminist Legal Studies, University of British Columbia

1 Feb 200931 Mar 2009

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