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Professor Paul Catley

Profile summary

Professional biography

Paul joined The Open University in 2013, taking over as Head of The Open University Law School in January 2015.

Prior to joining The Open University Law School, Paul was Head of the Department of Law at the University of the West of England, where he worked from 2005-2013.

From 1990 - 2005 Paul taught at Oxford Brookes University, where he was Subject Chair (Head of Department) and Field Chair (Course Director).

Paul has also taught at Brunel and Coventry Universities and at South Warwickshire College of Further Education.

Paul was educated at Cambridge University gaining his degree and Masters in Law and Economics. Paul subsequently gained an MA in Education at Oxford Brookes University focussing particularly in on-line learning.

Paul was an Associate of the UK Centre for Legal Education ("UKCLE") from 2006 - 2008 specialising in e-learning. The UKCLE was the law subject centre of the Higher Education Academy ("HEA") and was based at the University of Warwick.

Paul is a Fellow of the HEA.

Paul is an elected member of the Executive of the Committee of Heads of UK Law Schools.

Paul is a joint founder of and a member of the Steering Committee of the European Association for Neuroscience and Law.


Research interests

Neuroethics and Neurolaw

Paul's research focuses on the use and potential use of neuroscientific and genetic evidence in the courts and within the justice systems more widely. Paul is interested in discovering current practice and identifying best practice.

Paul is currently involved in a project with colleagues in the United States, Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands to investigate the use of neuroscientific evidence by defendants in criminal trials. The initial stage of the project looked at the use of such evidence in five jurisdictions between 2005 and 2012. Paul's focus is the use of such evidence in England and Wales. Preliminary findings have been published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences.

Paul's research interests are wide ranging and include: the use of neuroscientific evidence to detect memory/lies, the use of brain scanning to inform treatment and end of life decisions and the appropriate approaches of the law in cases where brain impairment / brain injury may impact on responsibility / capacity.

Legal Education

Prior to focussing on law and neuroscience, Paul's research centred largely on legal education particularly: (1) the use of e-learning to support and enhance learning and (2) the factors affecting prospective undergraduate law students in their choice of university.

Teaching interests

Paul's current teaching interests relate to:

  • Criminal Law,
  • Human Rights,
  • Neurolaw,
  • Robotics and the Law,
  • Sexuality and the Law.


Paul has written Units on:

  • W102 Law: Concepts and Perspectives,
  • W203 Public law and criminal law and
  • W340 Law, Society and Culture.


Prior to working at the Open University Paul has led a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including:

  • Civil Liberties & Human Rights, 
  • Crime & Society,
  • Criminal Evidence,
  • Criminal Justice & Human Rights,
  • Legal Method,
  • Legal Process, and
  • Sexuality and the Law


Impact and engagement

Paul is an elected member of the Executive of the Heads of UK Law Schools (formerly the Committee of Heads of University Law Schools). The organisation represents law schools in discussions with the professional bodies and other organisations.

Paul is a joint founder of and a member of the Steering Committee of the European Association for Neuroscience and Law ("EANL").

The aims of the EANL are "to:

promote international understanding of the interface between neuroscience, behavioural genetics and the law;

survey the current and likely use of neuroscientific, behavioural genetic and neurogenomic techniques before the European Courts and in investigative activities;

evaluate current practice and identify best practice;

serve as a repository of information for members;

promote and conduct interdisciplinary research in the area of neuroscience, behavioural genetics and the law;

disseminate the results to the public and to legal practitioners (judges, lawyers and legal scholars) and

influence the development of policy in behavioural sciences and the law."


Paul is also a member of the International Neuroethics Society and gave an invited paper at their annual meeting in Washington DC in November 2014. 


External collaborations

Member of the Executive of the Heads of UK Law Schools,

Member of the Steering Committee of the European Association for Neuroscience and Law,

Member of the Steering Committee of the European Association for Neuroscience and Law,

Member of the International Neuroethics Society.


Paul is currently working with colleagues across the globe on an investigation of the use of neuroscientific evidence by defendants in criminal trials in six jurisdictions (Canada, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United States of America and England and Wales). Paul is carrying out the research into the use of such evidence in England and Wales with his colleague in the Open University Law School, Dr. Lisa Claydon.

Paul has been involved in organising and delivering International Postgraduate Schools on Law and Neuroscience at the University of Pavia, Italy for the past four years. The Schools are organised by the University of Pavia supported by The Open University and the universities of Bonn and Nijmegen. Any OU alumni who would like to attend should contact Paul for further details.



The Future of Neurolaw (2016-10)
Catley, Paul
European Journal of Current Legal Issues, 22, Article 487(2)

The use of neuroscientific evidence in the courtroom by those accused of criminal offenses in England and Wales (2015-11-01)
Catley, Paul and Claydon, Lisa
Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 2(3) (pp. 510-549)

The ethical imperative of ascertaining and respecting the wishes of the minimally conscious patient facing a life-or-death decision. (2015)
Catley, Paul and Pywell, Stephanie
Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik, 19 (pp. 77-90)

Online formative MCQs to supplement traditional teaching: a very significant positive impact on student performance in the short and long run (2014-05)
Catley, Paul
Brookes E-Journal of Learning and Teaching, 6(1)

Personality Change, Criminal Responsibility and Diminished Capacity (2019-12-17)
Catley, Paul
In: Waltermann, Antonia; Roef, David; Hage, Jaap and Jelicic, Marko eds. Law, Science, Rationality. Maastricht Law Series (pp. 177-208)
ISBN : 9789462369894 | Publisher : Eleven International Publishing | Published : Utrecht, Netherlands

Abolishing Insanity: Proposals from England and Wales (2017-01-31)
Catley, Paul
In: White, Mark. D. ed. The Insanity Defense: Multidisciplinary Views on Its History, Trends, and Controversies (pp. 273-305)
ISBN : 978-1-4408-3180-5 | Publisher : Praeger | Published : Santa Barbara, CA

Abolishing the Insanity Verdict in England and Wales: A Better Balance between Legal Rules and Scientific Understanding? (2016-10-20)
Claydon, Lisa and Catley, Paul
In: Moratti, Sofia and Patterson, Dennis eds. Legal Insanity and the Brain: Science, Law and European Courts (pp. 207-237)
ISBN : 978-1-84946-791-9 | Publisher : Hart Publishing | Published : Oxford

Neuroscientific evidence in the English courts (2011-09-14)
Claydon, Lisa and Catley, Paul
In: Spranger, Tade Matthias ed. International Neurolaw: A Comparative Analysis (pp. 305-328)
ISBN : 978-3-642-21540-7 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Bonn