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Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics

Institute of Criminology

Centre mission

The Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics brings together leading philosophers, criminologists, and criminal-law theorists to explore ethical and philosophical issues in criminal law and criminal justice. To this end, the Centre runs workshops and conferences, disseminating the outcomes of its work in the Centre’s book series with Hart/Bloomsbury or in other appropriate forums. The Centre’s mission is to ensure that criminal justice research and theory remains in constant dialogue with the best thinking in the fields of ethics, political philosophy and jurisprudence. It is a specific aim of the Centre to further the work of young researchers and PhD students in these areas.


Centre history

The Centre was founded by Professor Andreas von Hirsch in 2000 to act as a focus for normative theorisation within the Institute. In 2016, Professor Sir Anthony Bottoms took over as Director and significantly expanded the Centre’s interactions with judges and criminal justice practitioners, particularly in the area of sentencing policy. With Professor Jonathan Jacobs (CUNY), he also organised the Centre’s Institute-wide conference on Moral Understandings, Criminal Careers and Societal Responses to Criminal Careers held in 2018. Professor Bottoms was succeeded as Director by Dr. Antje du Bois-Pedain, a Reader in Criminal Law and Philosophy in the Faculty of Law, who has been Deputy Director of the Centre since 2013 and in this capacity has led the Centre’s projects on Criminal Law and the Authority of the State, Penal Censure, and Re-reading Beccaria, and forged strong links between the Centre and collaborative groups and networks of criminal justice theorists internationally.



Professor Leo Zaibert


Deputy Director

Dr. Antje du Bois-Pedain


Founding Director

Professor Andreas von Hirsch

Previous Director

Professor Sir Anthony Bottoms