School of Law

Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, BA (Hons), MA, LLM, Barrister


Anniversary Chair in Law, Co-Director at the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context



Professor Douglas-Scott joined Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in September 2015 as Anniversary Chair in Law and co-director of the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context. Prior to coming to Queen Mary she was for many years Professor of European and Human Rights law at the University of Oxford, and before that Professor of Law at King’s College London.

Professor Douglas-Scott was born and educated in Edinburgh. She studied philosophy, art history and aesthetics before taking a degree in law. She works primarily within the fields of Constitutional law, EU public law, human rights and legal and social theory, and is particularly interested in questions of justice and human rights in Europe, and has published widely in these fields, including the monograph Constitutional Law of the European Union.

She is also interested in sub-state independence movements in Europe and has been an active commentator on Scottish and Catalan independence movements in the media, as well as giving expert evidence to the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments on further Scottish devolution. She is a member of the University of Edinburgh's Centre on Constitutional Change.   

Professor Douglas-Scott is the author of the monograph Law After Modernity, which was nominated for the Socio-Legal Book prize, and explores at a more abstract level many of the issues of pluralism, justice and human rights also to be found in her work on European law, and unusually, for a work of legal theory, is illustrated with various images and artistic works. She is also the co-editor of a much-cited series of essays on religion and law, entitled Faith in Law.

Her current projects include a monograph on European Human Rights law and a co-edited volume on the European Union and Human Rights. She is also a member of a large-scale research project on European citizenship funded by the European Commission with a major research grant, investigating barriers that EU citizens encounter in the exercise of their rights and obligations, for which, with assistance of Joelle Grogan, she completed a report on EU citizenship rights in the UK and Ireland.

Professor Douglas-Scott is also very interested in the relations of law, art and the image, and co-organised a workshop on ‘Images and Imagination in Theorizing about Law’ with Dr Maks del Mar in Oxford in May 2015.

She has held visiting posts and delivered lectures at various institutions in Europe and the US, including Georgetown Law School, Columbia University and the University of Bonn, where she was visiting Jean Monnet Professor. Since 1993, she has co-taught and developed a course on comparative US and European human rights law with Justice Anthony Kennedy of the US Supreme Court at the Salzburg Forum for International Studies.


Legal and Social Theory

In 2013 she published a monograph, Law After Modernity, in the Legal Theory Today series, originally edited by Professor John Gardner. In this work she present a radical, innovatory vision of contemporary law, with a particular focus on transnational law, giving an account that is historical and contextual in nature, and exploring at a more abstract level many of the issues of pluralism, justice and human rights also to be found in my work on EU and public law. Unusually, for a work of legal theory, it is illustrated with various images and artistic works. Law After Modernity was nominated for the Socio-Legal Book Prize 2014.

She has also co-edited a series of essays on religion and law: Faith in Law (discussed for example by Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, in a lecture, reprinted in The Guardian, February 2008).

She is particularly interested in the intersection of images, visual studies and legal scholarship. Many of her recent writings (i.e. ‘Rethinking Justice for the EU’; ‘Pluralism and Justice in the EU’; her contribution to Europe’s Constitutional Mosaic; as well as each chapter of Law After Modernity) have incorporated art and visual images, as well as contextual insights from Art History and the Humanities more generally. As well as writing about this field, in May 2015 she co-organised (with Dr Maks del Mar) a workshop at Oxford University that brought together legal theorists, art historians, visual epistemologists, practising visual artists and others to consider the role(s) that images and imagery play in theorising about law.

She has also contributed book reviews to the philosophical journal Mind, and has been a member of the Society of Legal Scholars jurisprudence panel.

European Law

Her work on European law focuses on the constitutional law of the EU, and in particular its human rights regimes, as well as the challenges that legal pluralism and the need for justice present for the Europe, and has published a large amount in this area. Her work is contextual and theoretical, as well as legal in nature.

She has written a leading work in the field, Constitutional Law of the European Union, which was written as a scholarly contribution rather than a student text but was nonetheless adopted on a variety of courses both here and abroad, and was very positively reviewed in the leading European law journals.

She is also currently working on two major publications in European human rights law, and participating in a major research project on citizenship and human rights, funded by the European Commission.

She is also frequently called to give evidence (oral and written) to the UK Parliament on EU human rights and constitutional matters, and most particularly on the constitutional aspects of Brexit.

Public Law

In the field of Public law she is particularly interested in human rights law, and issues of sovereignty and pluralism and have published many articles in these areas.

She also writes about the growth of sub-state nations and independence movements, and how these challenge our notions of constitutional and international law, and my work has been widely cited, and discussed in the media in the context of the Scottish referendum on independence and the informal Catalan consultation in 2014.

Funded research

She has benefited from research funding from, among others, the EU Commission, (for participation in FP7 major research project on European citizenship); the British Academy and IALS funds which have funded trips to the European Court of Justice and US Supreme Court, as well as her term as visiting scholar at Georgetown University Law School, in order to carry out comparative human rights research.


selected publications since 2005


  • Law After Modernity (Hart Publishing 2013)
  • Constitutional Law of the European Union (Pearson, Longman)
  • EU Human Rights Law (Elgar Publishing, forthcoming)
  • S Douglas-Scott and N Hatzis (eds), Research Handbook on European Human Rights Law (Elgar Publishing, forthcoming)
  • S Douglas-Scott, P Oliver, V Tadros (eds), Faith in Law (Hart Publishing)
  • S Douglas-Scott, J Dine, I Persaud  (eds), Procedure and the European Court (Law Chancery)
  • Constitutional and Institutional Law of the European Union Study Guide (University of London).

Journal Articles


Book Reviews

Recent blogs




  • S Douglas-Scott, 'What is to be done about the European Constitution?' (2005) British Institute of International and Comparative Law annual conference papers 2005.

Online symposium

  • My work on Scottish independence was also the subject of an online symposium, Scotland in the EU, hosted jointly by the UK Constitutional law blog and the German Verfassungsblog, with responses to my article from 15 academics in UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and the US
  • A special edition of the Oxford Legal Studies Research paper (Vol 8 No 15) was dedicated to 5 ssrn papers of mine in December 2014.

Evidence and reports

  • S Douglas-Scott and Dr Eve Hepburn, 'The permanence issue: symbolism or power' (2015) Written Evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the Scotland clauses ‘Constitutional Implications of the Draft Scotland Clauses’ oral evidence to UK House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee 22 January 2015
  • 'The Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the UK, oral and written evidence to UK House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, January 2014' (2014).

PhD Supervision

Professor Douglas-Scott welcomes applications in the following areas of research: European legal pluralism; constitutional implications of Scottish independence; the EU Charter of fundamental rights; and law and the image.

Currently co-supervising Daniel Davison Vecchione.

Public Engagement

  • Co-director of the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context
  • Appointed as special advisor to the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee Brexit Inquiry
  • Advice and reports for various public bodies, eg the UK House of Lords Constitution Committee; various House of Commons select committees; Scottish Parliament Select Committees and Festival of Politics; the Council of the European Union, also invitations by governments to advise or participate in round table discussions, eg the Slovenian Ministry of Justice
  • Training seminars on EU law for civil servants and judges, eg by Council of the European Union Legal Service, and for the Trier Academy of European law (Trier, Bucharest, Krakow, Helsinki)
  • Professor Douglas-Scott’s work has been frequently cited in the news media and she is also frequently approached by the broadcast media - eg BBC World at One, Newsnight, Spanish radio service
  • Professor Douglas-Scott is participating in a large-scale research project on European citizenship funded by the European Commission with a major research grant, whose findings will be the focus for further EU action in this area
  • Professor Douglas-Scott has been a visiting scholar at the European Court of Justice and the US Supreme Court. These visits were funded by British Academy and Institute of Advanced Legal Studies grants
  • She has also given over a 150 invited lectures, seminars and talks at universities and colloquia in the UK and overseas.

In the news:

Professor Douglas Scott gave following media interviews in June:

  • Sunday 26 June BBC TV Sunday Politics Scotland with Graham Stewart
  • Sunday 26 June Radio Clyde Paul Kelly
  • Monday 27 June Radio 5 Live
  • Tuesday 28 June BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Sarah Montagu and Nickk Robinson
  • Tuesday 28 June BBC World Service News
  • Tuesday 28 June BBC Radio Scotland with John Beattie.

13 September: gave oral evidence on acquired rights in House of Lords EU sub committee justice

13 September: Sionaidh Douglas-Scott quoted in The Guardian - 'Zero chance EU citizens will keep same rights in UK after Exit'

7 September: gave oral evidence in House of Commons Scottish Affairs committee

6 September: spoke on a panel in Edinburgh along with former Scottish first minister Henry McLeish, at 'Politics Explained: Scotland and Brexit'

5 September: keynote speech, 'Law and invisibility' at St Mary's University 'Law and Culture' conference

19 August: spoke on a panel in the Scottish Parliament 'Festival of Politics'

24 July: half hour interview on BBC Scotland 'Good Morning Scotland' on Brexit

23 July: spoke on a special Newsnight panel event on Brexit

14 July: 'Where are we now? Responses to the Referendum' article by Sionaidh Douglas-Scott in the London Review of Books

2 July: Cited in German Spiegel magazine

30 June: gave oral evidence to Scottish Parliament on EU Referendum

29 June: 'Can Scotland remain in the EU?" article by Sionaidh Douglas-Scott in The Guardian

Professor Douglas-Scott discusses constitutional implications of leaving the EU - Sionaidh Douglas-Scott discussed leaving the EU on a panel with Professor Sir David Edward QC (former UK judge at the European Court), Sir Konrad Schiemann QC (formerly Court of Appeal and UK judge at European Court) Sir John Kerr (formerly British ambassador to the EU and Head of the Diplomatic Service) and Professor Sir Alan Dashwood QC (Cambridge University and Henderson Chambers).

Professor Douglas-Scott gives evidence at House of Commons on draft Scotland clauses - Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform select committee on the draft clauses for the Scotland Bill.

Professor Douglas-Scott on public governance in the Spanish media: Sionaidh Douglas-Scott spoke in Barcelona on 31 October on public governance, democracy and constitutionalism at the international conference Building a new State. While there, she was interviewed by several Catalan and Spanish media, for example by local news channel Vilaweb (her interview is accessible here) and by the newspaper El Temps (her interview is accessible here).

Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott was invited by the Scottish Parliament to Edinburgh in August 2014 to take part in the Scottish Parliament's annual Festival of Politics. The discussion there was about the independence referendum and the future of Scotland in the EU.

'An independent Scotland in the EU' by Professor Douglas-Scott
Politics in Spires, 27 August 2014

Prof Douglas-Scott: EU entry ‘would be smooth’ for an independent Scotland
BBC News, 7 July 2014

Professor Douglas-Scott gave oral evidence to the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the UK on 15 & 22 January
Watch the filmed session

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