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Dr Caroline Derry

Dr Caroline Derry

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Professional biography

Caroline Derry joined the Open University in April 2017. She is a senior lecturer in law, teaching subjects including criminal and evidence law. Her other roles include Law School EDI Champion.

Caroline qualified as a barrister, practising in criminal defence law, and as a solicitor in a large, central London legal aid practice. She then taught for fifteen years at London Metropolitan University, where she was a senior lecturer in criminal and evidence law and gender & law, and course leader for the LLB Law. She has been a visiting lecturer in criminal law at SOAS and at Paris Descartes (Masters in Common Law).

Caroline is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the HEA.


Research interests

Gender, sexuality and criminal law, particularly the law on sexual consent and the legal regulation of relationships between women from the seventeenth century to the present. Recent conference papers include ‘Learning from Wolfenden’s silent women’ and ‘Judges, nabobs and malign domestics: judicial fact-finding in Woods and Pirie v Cumming Gordon’.

First women lawyers: Caroline researches several of the first women to qualify as barristers in Britain. She co-organised and was a plenary speaker at Diversities, Dilemmas and Discoveries: researching the history of women in the UK's legal professions and is a participant in the First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposia, where she has presented papers including 'Diverse definitions, diverse women: who was the first woman barrister?' and ‘Ethel Bright Ashford: using ‘failure’ to promote the greater cause’.


Teaching interests

  • W101 An introduction to law
  • W111 Criminal law and the courts
  • W203 Public law and criminal law
  • W250 Evidence law.

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

  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence and Advocacy
  • Women and Law
  • Gender and Human Rights
  • Criminal Justice and Human Rights

She is the co-author of two textbooks: Complete Criminal Law, sixth and seventh editions (with Janet Loveless and Mischa Allen, OUP, 2018 and 2020) and Gender and Law (with Judith Bourne, Routledge, 2018).



Ethel Bright Ashford: more and less than a role model (2020)
Derry, Caroline
Women's History Review, 29(4) (pp. 615-635)

Lesbianism and Feminist Legislation in 1921: the Age of Consent and 'Gross Indecency between Women' (2018-10-01)
Derry, Caroline
History Workshop Journal, 86 (pp. 245-267)

‘Female Husbands’, Community and Courts in the Eighteenth Century (2017)
Derry, Caroline
Journal of Legal History, 38(1) (pp. 54-79)

Lesbianism and the Criminal Law: Three Centuries of Regulation in England and Wales (2020-01-14)
Derry, Caroline
ISBN : 978-3-030-35300-1 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke

Consenting to Sexual Activity (2020)
Derry, Caroline
In: Claydon, Lisa; Derry, Caroline and Ajevski, Marjan eds. Law in Motion: 50 years of Legal Change (pp. 136-148)
ISBN : 978-1-4730-3148-7 | Publisher : The Open University Law School

DPP v Jonathan Cape and Leopold Hill (1928) (2018-12)
Derry, Caroline
In: Rackley, Erika and Auchmuty, Rosemary eds. Women's Legal Landmarks: Celebrating 100 Years of Women and Law in the UK and Ireland
ISBN : 978-1782259770 | Publisher : Hart Publishing

Criminal Law (2018-04)
Derry, Caroline
In: Auchmuty, Rosemary ed. Great Debates in Gender and Law. Palgrave Great Debates in Law (pp. 37-48)
ISBN : 9781137610997 | Publisher : Palgrave

Law in Motion: 50 Years of Legal Change (2020-12)
Claydon, Lisa; Derry, Caroline and Ajevski, Marjan eds.
ISBN : 978-1-4730-3148-7 | Publisher : Open University Law School | Published : Milton Keynes

Ashford, Ethel Bright (1883–1980) (2018-11-08)
Derry, Caroline
Oxford University Press

Clapham, Olive Catherine [married name Miles] (1898–1973) (2018-11-08)
Derry, Caroline
Oxford University Press

Cobb, Monica Mary Geikie (1891–1946) (2018-11-08)
Derry, Caroline
Oxford University Press