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    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Constitutional law and theory, e-government and e-democracy, new technology, (including smart cities, big data, surveillance etc.), judges and the legal professions

1987 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


 A graduate in Law from University College Cardiff, John Morison taught law in England and Wales, and carried out research for his PhD on theories of punishment, before returning to his home city of Belfast to take up the post of Lecturer in the Department of Public Law at Queen's University Belfast. In 1996 he was appointed as Professor of Jurisprudence. His books include The Barrister's World and the Nature of Law (with Philip Leith) (1992) - which has been downloaded more than 2,500 times since it was made available from BAILII, and viewed more than 3,500 times on ResearchGate; Reshaping Public Power: Northern Ireland and the British Constitutional Problem (with Stephen Livingstone) (1995), and Crime Community and Locale (with David O'Mahony, Kieran McEvoy and Ray Geary) (2000) and the co-edited essay collections Law, Society and Change (1990), Tall Stories? Reading Law and Literature (1996), In Search of the Underclass (1997), Voices, Spaces and Processes in Constitutionalism (2000), Judges, Transition, and Human Rights (2007) and Values in Global Administrative Law (2011). In addition, Professor Morison is author of some thirty or so chapters in various books and more than 50 articles in scholarly journals. His work is consistently in the top 10% of downloads in SSRN.

            Professor Morison has worked on various empirical projects funded by government and research councils, including the social attitudes survey, a communities crime survey, European election law, public service provision, the modernising government agend, and judicial appointments.   He was one of the coordinators of an EU funded Asia Link project which was concerned with developing good governance and human rights in Mongolia and Indonesia. He has concluded  an ESRC funded project on “What makes an important case? A Sociology of the creation and transmission of legal knowledge” (with G. Anthony) and in December 2011 he completed  an ESRC funded  project on Public Interest in the UK courts with Dr Gordon Anthony and Dr Dimtrios Doukas. Recently he has also finished an EU funded project on youth participation and the internet, and a project funded by the Changing Ageing Partnership on Hearing Older Voices which looks at e-engagement among older people. In November 2018 he was invited to undertake further research for the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission and  lead a team looking at obstacles to application to the higher courts. The report from this research, Barriers to Appointment to the High Court in Northern Irelandwas published in 2019.  

He is a member of the European Group of Public Law, and serves on the Board of the European Public Law Organisation as well as being a member of the Curatorium of the European Academy of Public Law which runs an annual postgraduate education programme in Greece. Professor Morison is on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Law and Society and on the Editorial boards of the European Review of Public Law,  the International Journal of Public Law and Policy,  Frontiers in Law (FL)   and on the Reviewer Committee of the Electronic Journal of E-Government. He was a trustee of the Hamlyn Trust until October 2018 and was  a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council Peer Review College for two full terms.   In September 2018 he was appointed to the ESRC Grant Award Panel (Panel B) and re-appointed in 2020.  In addition he  has acted as a reviewer for numerous overseas government research bodies. He was a member of the Task Force on Resourcing the Voluntary and Community, established by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland. Professor Morison is a committee member for the European Conference on Digital Government and was invited to join the Programme Committee for  the  newly established European Conference  on the Impact of AI and Robotics (ECIAIR)  in 2022 and ios now a Committee member for the 4th International Conference on AI Research (ICAIR 2024) hosted by Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal on 5-6 December 2024.   He is also  on the Technical Program Committee for the  International Conference on Digital Society whose eigtheen annual conference  took place in Barcelona in May 2024. In February 2023 he was appointed as Chair of the International Academic Advisory Board of Kuwait International Law School (KILAW). 

Professor Morison has been a speaker at many conferences and meetings in Europe, the USA and South Africa. These include, most recently,  the KILAW 10th Annual Research Conference on AI: Applications, Academic and Practical Legal Implication in May 2024,  titled  Courts of the Future – The Future of Courts Between Automated Justice and Platform Jurisprudence organized by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow- Institut (HBI) and its Private Ordering Observatory (PrObs), the Baffi Carefin Center at Bocconi University and the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG); a workshop on the "The Common Core of Administrative Law" in Bocconi University, Italy ; a panel on Digitalizing the Courts within a conference on the Impact of Digitalization on Constitutional Law organised by the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) in Copenhagen in February 2022; and the International Legal Ethics Conference (ILEC) in July 2024 in Amsterdam. 

Professor Morison was a previously a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Constitution Unit, University College London, Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London (supported by a grant from the British Academy) a visiting Professor at the University of Cape Town, a research fellow at the Institute of Governance at QUB supported by a grant from the Royal Irish Academy, and in 2007-08 a Visiting Research Chair at the Law School in the Universiteit of Utrecht. He is a member of the Higher Education Academy and has been or is currently an external examiner for universities in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland, as well as for a number of continental PhDs. In 2005 Professor Morison was appointed to the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission  and re-appointed for a further four years from  2008-12. He was an Independent Board Member of the Legal Services Agency which funds legal aid in Northern Ireland from 2013-18.  

In March 2009 he was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy. He served as a member of its Academic Board as well as  the chair of the Academy's Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical Studies Committee from 2014 to 2018. In 2015 he led the RIA's Ethics and Opinion Series  within the President of Ireland's Ethics Inititative and in 2016 organised the RIA's Constitutional Conversations series. In 2018 he was invited to join the RIA's Policy Oversight Group (POG), where he  chaired a review of Early Career Provision in Ireland, and he was co-opted to the RIA Council in 2018.  On completing his term with POG he was invited in 2021 to join the RIA's Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Candidates for Membership for a three year term, and the assessment panel for the 2024 Academy Gold Medal in the Social Sciences.  He is currently also a member of the RIA's Diversity Committee

A previous Head of the School of Law, he was also Director of Internationalisation until 2016, and in this role was a founder of the innovative  Juris Doctorate (JD) degree which attracts students from across the world to QUB.  
He was appointed as the Law School's "REF Champion" in October 2016 and was part of the small team who put together the School's entry which secured a placing of  8th=  in REF 2021, as well as being an author of the one of four 'Impact Case Studies' that each scored 4* ratings

He is PI (along with Professor Stephen Smart and Dr Sandra Scott-Hayward CIs) for a £1.35m award from the Leverhulme Trust i for a Doctoral Training Programme Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network on Algorithmic Solutions (LINAS) which, with matching funding from the University, funds 30 PhD studentships from 2021 within an interdisciplinar programme working  at the cutting edge of AI algorithms while considering the societal implications of allowing machines to make decisions about our futures.  In 2022 he was invited to become an Associate Fellow at the Global Research Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at QUB. 

In 2020 Professor Morison was appointed as an Assessor for Sub-Panel  18 Law in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 21).  



Professor Morison has taught across most subjects within the law curriculum including most recently a course in Constitutional and Administrative Law for the Juris Doctorate and he supervises final year research projects.  He is also the co-ordinator of a course on Law and the Challenge of Technology within the new LLM programme of Law and Technology. 


Research Interests

 Current research interests encompass constitutional law and theory, including judicial appointments, as well as e-government, e-democracy and algorithmic government, and smart cities.

In addition to being the PI and lead for the doctoral training programme, the Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network on Algorithmic Solutions (LINAS), Professor Morison has supervised a large number of PhD students to completion. Recent successes include Tomás McInerney,  Jennifer Cobbe, Adam Harkens,  Andrew Godden, Hamad Alfahad and Narayan Kandal  the co-supervison of Conor McCormick and Louise O'Hagan.  He currently supervises PhD students in the  areas of constitutional law and theory, criminal justice and new technology including Lydia Griffiths,  Sejal Chandak,  David Mark and James Sweeney. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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