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Centre for Penal Theory and Ethics

Institute of Criminology

Centre mission

The Centre for Penal Theory and Ethics brings together leading scholars to explore central issues surrounding punishment and its justification. To this end, the Centre runs workshops and conferences, disseminating the outcomes of its work in a variety of venues, including the Centre’s own book series with Hart/Bloomsbury. Relatedly, the Centre seeks to contribute to the progress of young researchers and PhD students working in these areas. The Centre is alive to the value of interdisciplinary and of comparative approaches. In its efforts to advance our understanding of punishment and its justifications, the Centre thus seeks dialogue with the best thinking in many different fields and in many different jurisdictions and intellectual traditions.


Centre history

The Centre was founded by Professor Andreas von Hirsch in 2000 to add a decidedly theoretical and normative dimension to the Institute of Criminology. 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. After Professor Bottoms stepped down as Director of the Centre, Prof. Antje du Bois-Pedain, took over as Interim Director, and she led projects on Criminal Law and the Authority of the State, Penal Censure, and Re-reading Beccaria. Upon becoming the inaugural Andreas von Hirsch Professor of Penal Theory and Ethics in 2022, Prof Leo Zaibert also assumed then the Directorship of the Centre.



   Professor Leo Zaibert


Deputy Director

Dr. Antje du Bois-Pedain


Founding Director

Professor Andreas von Hirsch

Previous Director

Professor Sir Anthony Bottoms