Joe Tomlinson

Joe Tomlinson


Former affiliation
  • Senior Lecturer, Law

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Joe is happy to speak to prospective students interested in pursuing postgraduate research within his current research areas.

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Personal profile


Joe is Professor of Public Law at the University of York.  He completed his LL.B (Dean’s Award) and PhD (President’s Medal) at the University of Manchester, and was called to the Bar of England and Wales (as a Queen Mother’s Scholar of Middle Temple). Prior to joining the University of York in 2019, Joe held lectureships at King’s College London and the University of Sheffield. He has held multiple visiting positions, including at Melbourne Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School, the Constitution Unit at the UCL Department of Political Science, and the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University. Joe has also held a range of appointments outside of academia, including as an ESRC Parliamentary Academic Fellow in 2019 and serving as Research Director of the Public Law Project, a national legal charity, from 2017 to 2021. He is currently Co-Chair of the Academic Panel of the Administrative Justice Council, a member of the Academic Panel at Blackstone Chambers, a member of the Expert Panel of the Digital Freedom Fund, and an Associate Fellow of the Public Law Project. He has led multiple significant partnerships with central government departments, and his scholarship has been widely relied on by policymakers and in the courts, including the UK Supreme Court.  

Research interests

Joe’s research focuses on administrative law and justice, and he conducts both theoretical and empirical research in this field. His research seeks to understand how law, courts, and administrative organisations respond to complex societal challenges, and how those responses are experienced by the public in everyday life. His work has covered a wide range of issues including social welfare, displacement and migration, and health and social care. He has been awarded grants by a range of bodies in the UK and internationally, and has been involved, mostly as principal investigator, in securing over £2M in research funding to date. At present, he is working on three main ideas:

  • Administrative fairness theory: linking how the public experiences frontline administrative processes in their everyday lives, the impacts of those encounters, and how law and government can be reformed to better deliver policy justly. In 2022, Joe founded, with Dr Jed Meers (York) and Professor Simon Halliday (Strathclyde), the Administrative Fairness Lab, which has become a leading interdisciplinary research group. This work is funded by a range of bodies, including the Nuffield Foundation, SPARKS, and Research England. 
  • Systematic analysis of administrative law: examining contemporary trends, practices, and novel challenges within administrative law, often through the use of systematic and empirical methods to complement traditional doctrinal research. Recent work in this area includes an analysis of judicial review cases related to COVID-19 with Professor Tom Hickman KC (UCL/ Blackstone Chambers), an empirical study of immigration judicial reviews (published with Palgrave, 2021) with Professor Robert Thomas (Manchester), and an edited collection published by Hart Bloomsbury on Facts in Public Law Adjudication (with Dr Anne Carter, Adelaide). Joe is currently writing a practitioner text with Brendan McGurk (Monckton Chambers) on AI, Automation, and Public Law and working with Mishcon de Reya’s data science team on improving the accessibility of judicial review judgment data.
  • A modern theory of public law: Joe is undertaking, with Professor Robert Thomas (Manchester), a theoretical project at the intersection of law and political theory, which seeks to challenge and update the dominant conceptual understandings of law and government in view of the realities of modern administrative governance and public services.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Manchester

Award Date: 19 Apr 2017

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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