Dr Karen Brennan

Senior Lecturer
Essex Law School
Dr Karen Brennan
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 874832

  • Location

    4SB.5.17, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Monday 09:00 - 10:00 and Thursday 14:00 - 15:00



Dr Karen Brennan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Essex. She holds a Bachelor of Civil Law (2000, University College Dublin), and a PhD (2007, University College Dublin). She was awarded a Government of Ireland Scholarship by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2002-2004). Prior to joining the University of Essex in 2012, she held a lectureship at Queen's University Belfast (2006-2011), and also acted as researcher to the Criminal Law Rapporteur on the Legal Protection of Children in the Republic of Ireland (July 2006 - December 2007). Her research and teaching interests are in the area of criminal justice, with a particular focus on socio-historical and gendered issues. She recently co-edited a book on women and the criminal justice system (Women and Criminal Justice System: Failing Victims and Offenders? Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming 2018). She has published extensively on the subject of infanticide in national and international journals, taking a socio-legal, historical, and feminist approach to this subject. She has also published on abortion and family homicide. Her work engages with a range of themes, including social norms, compassion, medicalisation, and reproductive rights. She is currently developing her research across three areas: maternal obligation to the foetus/newborn child, with a particular focus on the criminalisation of women who harm the foetus/baby; obstetric violence; and assisted dying.


  • BCL (University College Dublin), 2000

  • PhD (University College Dublin), 2007

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Gender and Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice History

Current research

Compassion, Assisted Dying and the Law

Criminalising Obstetric Violence

Maternal Obligation and the Foetus/Newborn Child

Socio-legal, Historical and Feminist approaches to Infanticide

Teaching and supervision

Previous supervision

Simon Jonathon Cooper
Simon Jonathon Cooper
Thesis title: Holding the Police to Account: A Critical Analysis of the Structures of Police Accountability and the Introduction and Operation of Police and Crime Commissioners
Degree subject: Law
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 25/1/2018


Journal articles (6)

Brennan, K., (2019). Murderous Mothers & Gentle Judges: Paternalism,Patriarchy, and Infanticide. Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. 30 (1)

Brennan, K., (2018). Social Norms and the Law in responding to Infanticide. Legal Studies. 38 (3), 480-499

Brennan, KM., (2013). “A Fine Mixture of Pity and Justice:” The Criminal Justice Response to Infanticide in Ireland, 1922–1949. Law and History Review. 31 (4), 793-841

Brennan, K., (2013). Punishing Infanticide in the Irish Free State. Irish Journal of Legal Studies. 3 (1)

Brennan, K., (2013). Traditions of English Liberal Thought: a History of the Enactment of an Infanticide Law in Ireland. Irish Jurist. 50, 100-137

Brennan, K., (2007). Beyond the Medical Model: A Rationale for Infanticide Legislation. Northern Ireland legal quarterly.. 58 (4), 505-535

Books (2)

(2018). Women and the Criminal Justice System. Springer International Publishing. 3319767747. 9783319767734

Milne, E., Brennan, K., South, N. and Turton, J., (2018). Erratum to: Women and the Criminal Justice System. Springer International Publishing. 9783319767734

Book chapters (5)

Brennan, K., (2019). Reflections on Criminalising Obstetric Violence: A Feminist Perspective. In: Childbirth, Vulnerability and Law. Editors: Pickles, C. and Herring, J., . Routledge. 226- 226. 9780429443718

Brennan, K. and Milne, E., (2018). Criminalising Neonaticide: Reflections on Law and Practice in England and Wales. In: Women and the Criminal Justice System. Springer International Publishing. 95- 117. 9783319767734

Brennan, K., Milne, E., South, N. and Turton, J., (2018). Women and the Criminal Justice System—Moving Beyond the Silo. In: Women and the Criminal Justice System. Springer International Publishing. 1- 11. 9783319767734

Howlin, N., Costello, K. and Brennan, K., (2017). Murder in the Irish Family, 1930–1945. In: Law and the Family in Ireland, 1800–1950. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 160- 180. 9781137606389

Brennan, K., (2008). The State of Abortion Law in Northern Ireland. In: The Unborn Child, Article 40.3.3 and Abortion in Ireland: 25 Years of Protection?. Editors: Schweppe, J., . Liffey Press. 247- 275. 9781905785513

Other (4)

Brennan, K. and Milne, E., (2019).Infanticide: Guarding Against Harshness. New Law Journal. 169(7824),New Law Journal

Brennan, K. and Milne, E., (2019).Infanticide,John Wiley & Sons

Milne, E. and Brennan, K., (2019).Infanticide, Neonaticide, Gender,John Wiley & Sons

Brennan, K. and Milne, E., (2018).The Law of Infanticide is Supposed to Provide Merciful Treatment for Vulnerable Mothers,The Conversation

+44 (0) 1206 874832


4SB.5.17, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Monday 09:00 - 10:00 and Thursday 14:00 - 15:00

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