Mary Dobbs


  • Room 07.025 - Main Site Tower

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be particularly interested in supervising PhD projects in (but not limited to) the areas of: - environmental governance - environmental principles - EU environmental law (or national environmental law within EU Member States) - agri-environmental issues - agri-sustainability - genetically modified crops - Brexit in conjunction with any of the above - all-island environmental governance


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My main research interests lie in the areas of environmental law & governance, agriculture and genetically modified crops - in particular in an EU context, but also more broadly. These areas are crucial to society and complex due to their interdisciplinary, multifunctional and multilevel natures.

When it comes to GMOs, I have written on the development of the EU regime to encompass the potential for Member States to 'opt-out', the viability of coexistence and freedom of choice between GM and non-GM crops, and multi-level governance. My research has also taken me across the 'public-private divide' through most recently considering the impact of 'enclosure' of plant genetic resources through patenting upon agricultural sustainability. This research was facilitated in part by a British Academy/Leverhulme grant.

Regarding environmental law more generally, I engage in particular with the precautionary principle (building upon my thesis) and currently am considering the impact of Brexit on environmental and agri-environmental issues within Northern Ireland and the UK. I have provided written submissions to various Brexit Inquiries on trade/agriculture/food/the environment, engaged with ENGOs on environmental governance post Brexit, and in June 2018 provided oral evidence on agriculture in NI post Brexit to the NI Affairs Committee in Westminster: . I have since also provided oral evidence before a Welsh Assembly Committee.

My ongoing research is drawing these strands together and looking at issues relating to agri-sustainabilty. I hosted a workshop on ecological sustainability in May 2017, a workshop on agri-sustinability in Cardiff in May 2018, and a workshop on sustainable food production in Belfast in November 2018. I am now building upon this with colleagues within QUB and beyond in order to develop a long-term project. I am co-authoring a book on Brexit and Agriculture for Routledge with Dr. Ludivine Petetin in Cardiff Law School.

I am a Co-Investigator in JMCE: Tensions at the Fringes of Europe (, which funded the ecological sustainability workshop in 2017, and a member of the executive committee of the Centre for European and Transnational Studies in QUB:

I am also engaged in the Jean Monnet SoLaR Network, looking at the role of EU soft law in the Member States:

I am interested in supervising students in any of the above areas and also the overlapping area of food security.


My current teaching roles include coordinating and co-teaching JD Equity and Trusts, and Law of the Home (Family Law - Level 3 LLB). I coordinate and run the Level 3 Environmental Law module. I also co-teach the LLB Equity module (Level 2 and 3 - comprising c. 320 students).

Whilst in Queen's, I have previously coordinated and delivered the LLB Equity modules (Level 2 and 3 - coordinated for 3 years and co-taught for 6 years), LLB Research Projects (Level 3 - for 2 years) and LLM Methods of Legislation and Law-Making (LLM - for 3 years). I have also taught on a range of other modules in Queen's, including JD Research Methodologies.

I have previously taught in subjects such as EU, Company and Contract Law.

I am also an External Examiner for Contract Law.

My main teaching interests lie in the fields of Environmental Law, Equity/Trusts, Contract Law and EU Law.



I am currently the Programme Director for the MLaw Programme in Queen's. Previously I have undertaken roles such as Advisor of Studies and (co)Director of External Affairs.

I am a member of the working group, Future Earth Ireland, in the Royal Irish Academy.


I completed my BCL (Law with French Law) in UCD, Dublin, having spent my third year in Université Paris II (Panthéon-Assas). I completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Colin Scott at UCD that examined the question of whether the precautionary principle is viable as a legal principle. In particular, the thesis focused upon issues of legitimacy and justiciability, with a case study on the precautionary principle's role in relation to genetically modified organisms in the European Union. 

During my time in Queen's, I have co-organised events such as the UK IVR Conference in 2015 upon the public-private divide, the Early Academics' Essential Skills Conferences for Phd students in 2014 and 2017, and an ecological sustainability workshop under the remit of the TREUP project. 

I am a member of a range of external organisations such as the European Environmental Law Forum, the UK Environmental Law Association and the Society of Legal Scholars.

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Research Output

2 Downloads (Pure)

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire? Environmental Governance Vulnerabilities in Post-Brexit Northern Ireland

Gravey, V., Dobbs, M. & Brennan, C., 01 Jun 2019, In : Environmental Law Review. 21, 2, p. 84-110 27 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    115 Downloads (Pure)

    The challenges for the environment across the island

    Dobbs, M., 2019, Brexit and Northern Ireland: Bordering on Confusion. Mair, J., McCabe, S., Fowler, N. & Budd, L. (eds.). Bite-sized books, p. 191-198

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The Franco-British Lawyers' Society 2019 Colloquium: Navigating Brexit, Icebergs Ahead? UK, Irish, French and EU Perspectives

    Mary Dobbs (Chair)

    15 Nov 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    All-Island Environmental Governance post-Brexit and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

    Mary Dobbs (Organiser)

    18 Apr 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Imelda Maher

    Mary Dobbs (Host)

    09 Apr 2019

    Activity: Hosting a visitor typesHosting an academic visitor

    UACES - 2019

    Mary Dobbs (Speaker), , Ludivine Petetin (Speaker), & Viviane Gravey (Speaker)

    Sep 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    IALT Annual Conference

    Mary Dobbs (Speaker)

    24 Nov 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Press / Media

    ‘Environmental Divergence: What could change after Brexit’

    Mary Dobbs


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    ‘What does Brexit mean for the precautionary principle?’

    Mary Dobbs


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    BBC NI Drivetime - Evening Extra - Diesel Emissions

    Mary Dobbs


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Biotech Companies Wary of Brexit Threat to EU Crop Approvals

    Mary Dobbs


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment