Mary Dobbs

    Mary Dobbs


    Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3578

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    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.

    Willingness to take 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

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    Frequent Journals

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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 61556