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Professor David Nelken

 Professor David Nelken, The Dickson Poon School of Law

Contact details

Professor of Comparative & Transnational Law in Context
Room: 1.15





David Nelken PHD, LLD (Cambridge) taught at Cambridge, Edinburgh and University College, London before moving to Italy in 1989 as Distinguished Professor of Legal Institutions and Social Change at the University of Macerata.

From 1995 to 2013 he was Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Cardiff University, and since 2010 he has been the Visiting Professor of Criminology at Oxford University.

His work, covering both theoretical enquiry and empirical investigation, is in the areas of comparative sociology of law, criminology, and legal and social theory.

Awards received include:

  •  American Sociological Association Distinguished Scholar Award (1985)
  • Sellin-Glueck International award of the American Criminological Society (2009)
  • Podgorecki Distinguished senior scholar award from the International Sociological Association (2011)
  • Law & Society (USA) International Scholar Award (2013)
Research interests and supervison

Professor Nelken has varied and extensive experience of successful PhD and post doctorate supervision and examination.

He is keen to supervise research in the areas of comparative and transnational law, especially where this involves engaging with interdisciplinary theoretical literatures and /or empirical research and case -studies.

He is particularly interested in socio-legal studies, and comparative sociology of law and legal culture (including legal transfers).

He is also happy to supervise work in criminology and criminal justice. His own writings have been mainly in the areas of criminological and penological theory, comparative criminal justice, white -collar crime, juvenile justice, crime and globalisation, and international criminal justice. 

He is also willing to help with research on comparative law, legal and social theory, and regulation studies.

Please note that Professor Nelken is unable to accept new applications for PhD supervision for 17/18 intake.

Selected publications

Chapters and articles

  • "Ehrlich’s Legacies: Back to the Future in the Sociology of Law?" (2009) in Hertogh, M. (ed.) Living Law: Reconsidering Eugen Ehrlich. Oxford: Hart Publishing, p. 237-273

  • "Human Trafficking and Legal Culture" (2010) Israel Law Review. 43, 3, p. 479-513

  • "Using Legal Culture: Purposes and Problems" (2012) in Nelken, D. (ed.) Using Legal Culture. London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing, p. 1-51


  • Law as Communication ed. Dartmouth 1996
  • Comparing Legal Cultures ed. Dartmouth 1997
  • Contrasting Criminal Justice ed. Dartmouth 2000
  • Adapting Legal Cultures (ed. with J. Feest), Hart, 2001
  • European Ways of Law (ed. with Volkmar Gessner), Hart, 2007
  • Comparative Law: A Handbook ( ed..with E.Orucu), Hart 2007
  • Beyond the Study of ‘Law in Context’,  Ashgate 2009
  • Comparative Criminal Justice: Making Sense of Difference, Sage 2010
  • Using Legal Culture ed. Wildy, Simmonds and Hill, 2012 
  • The Limits of the Legal Process (Classics republished) Quid Pro books, 2013

See Professor Nelken's Research Portal profile for full details.

Teaching and School roles
  • Jurisprudence (LLB) 
  • Law & Social Theory (LLB) 
  • Sociology of Law ( LLM) 
  • Phd supervision 
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