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School of Law

Professor Seán McConville, BSc (Bath) PhD (Cantab) LLD (Cantab) JP


Professor of Law and Public Policy

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3957


Seán McConville has taught and researched on both sides of the Atlantic, where he has also advised government departments, agencies and legislatures. His research and writing have centred on the history of punishment and on contemporary criminal and penal policy. He has extensive prison-related consultancy and litigation experience. Around this core he has followed his interests in various directions, including prison and institutional architecture and design, Islamic criminal law, the peace process in Ireland, law and poverty and research design and methodology. In 2013 he published the fourth in his multi-volume history of punishment, Irish Political Prisoners, 1920 -1962 and also (with Anna Bryson) The Routledge Guide to Interviewing. He has contributed to major British and US newspapers, broadcasts regularly and has also in pamphlet and essay contributed to policy debates.



Sean McConville's full CV [DOC 42KB]

Seán McConville has been publishing since 1975 in various formats including essays, monographs, pamphlets, textbooks, works of reference, official reports, investigations and newspaper and journal articles. Most recently he completed the fourth volume of the history of punishment and imprisonment (Irish Political Prisoners 1920-62: Pilgrimage of Desolation (Routledge, 2013)). Previous books in the series have dealt with Irish political prisoners during the period of formation of modern Irish nationalism (Irish Political Prisoners 1848-1922: Theatres of War (Routledge, 2003)) as well as eighteenth and nineteenth penal policy (A History of English Prison Administration (Routledge, 1981) and English Local Prisons 1860-1900: Next Only to Death (Routledge, 1995)). He is currently working on the final volume of Irish Political Prisoners 1960 – 2000: Braiding Rage and Loss. The book will be published by early spring.

He has collaborated with colleagues at various points in publishing several collections of essays, including The Use of Punishment (Willan, 2003: substantially funded by the H.F Guggenheim Foundation) and “Engels and Fenianism: Reflections upon Alchemy”,  (Marx-Engels Yearbook 2011, Berlin, Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe).

Drawing on research skills developed over many years and across several projects, and with Anna Bryson as co-author, Seán McConville has recently published The Routledge Guide to Interviewing.


Professor McConville welcomes well thought-out proposals from those wishing to enrol for the MPhil or PhD: penal policy and administration (historical, contemporary and comparative) and related topics in modern Irish history are preferred, but others would be considered.

Public Engagement

Professor Sean McConville, Queen Mary University of London, video interview by FacultiMedia on “Irish Political Prisoners 1920-62: Pilgrimage of Desolation’.

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