Photo of Dr Claire McGourlay

Professor Claire McGourlay

Position: Professor of Legal Education
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6821
Room No: EF06
Feedback and Consultation Availability: You can book an appointment online to see me

Academic Profile

I joined the School of Law in 2002 after completing my PhD at Sheffield. I became a senior lecturer in 2008 and I was the first person in the Faculty of Social Sciences to be promoted to Professor of Student Education in 2013. In 2008 I was the recipient of a University Senate Award for excellence in learning and teaching and in 2009 an Award for Excellence in Inquiry Based Learning. In 2013 I was shortlisted for the Oxford University Law Teacher of the Year Award (View the video the students created as part of this process) and the Teaching Excellence Award at the Student’s Union Academic Awards. In 2014 I won the Academic Award for Employability and was also shortlisted for the Enterprise and Personal tutor award. I help run the School of Law widening participation and from 2008-2014 I was the lead admissions tutor  I also manage the School of Law’s student-led Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre and co-manage the FreeLaw Legal Clinic. In 2011 I was appointed to the position of Faculty Director of Undergraduate Student affairs and in September 2014 I was appointed to the position of Faculty Director of Teaching Enhancement. In 2012 I was made a Academic Fellow of Gray’s Inn.


  • HEA Principal Fellow (July 2016)
  • National Teaching Fellow (2014)
  • PhD
  • LLB

Teaching and Learning

I always try to display an active interest in and development of approaches to teaching that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn. I work in a number of mediums to influence, motivate and inspire students. I make every effort to be more than an academic who nurtures a passionate interest in the law-I strive to be a dedicated teacher, enthusiastic and positive. I hope that my interest in teaching is demonstrably clear to anyone who meets me; and it is this interest and passion that are paramount to my students’ success and achievements.

As well as the traditional lecture and seminar formats I frequently champion distinct and diverse teaching styles and methods to ensure everyone is supported and given the opportunity to excel. I was instrumental in introducing video activates into a module - Introduction to Legal Process - to enable students to engage in practical tasks to enhance their understanding on a chosen area of law. Through ‘FreeLaw (Clinical Legal Education)’ and ‘Miscarriages of Justice and their consequences, two modules I am conveyor of, I promote the use of portfolios, and e-portfolios, to allow student to catalogue their work and learn useful practical skills. I am extremely passionate about these pro bono projects and I have been responsible for the establishment and growth of FreeLaw and The Sheffield University Miscarriages of Justice Centre. I have also developed a link with a university in Chicago that offers the opportunity for my students to spend time in the United States.

I also uses podcasts, screencasts, nearpod, turning point, electronic workbooks and diaries; to assist students learning as well as providing students with detailed and comprehensive feedback after seminars.

I take an active interest in students as individuals and I am also a year tutor. I am constantly recognised as a supportive figure in the school for any problems, not just those academics issues associated with my modules. Through my extensive work in relation to widening participation for law applicants, and my involvement in open days, I am often familiar with students’ right from the start of their university life. I truly hope it is this friendly and welcoming persona that has been the reason I have been nominated for the University’s personal tutor of the year award in 2010 and in 2014.

I take an active interest in the Edward Bramley Law Society, which is the student law society at the University of Sheffield and one of the largest student led law societies in Europe. In light of my contribution to this society, and my involvement in a wide array of different events and activities - including organising career events and guest lectures - I was awarded the Edward Bramley Law Society Award for Outstanding Staff Contribution in 2013.

I am also the co-author of a leading textbook on Evidence which has a number of pedagogic features both in the book and within the accompanying online resource centre.

From January 2014 I have been part of a small team leading the School of Law Curriculum review.

The modules I teach are:

Undergraduate Postgraduate and MA
Understanding Law (WiNs) (Convenor) Law of Crime (Joint Convenor)
Criminal Law (Joint Convenor)
Criminal Evidence (Convenor)
Criminal Process (Convenor)
FreeLaw (Joint Convenor) 

Miscarriages of Justice and Their Consequences -The Innocence Project (Convenor)

Criminal Law and Justice

Recent Key Notes Speeches and Papers

  • Key Note Speech HEA December 2015 'Frameworks for Teaching' Excellence - Lessons Learnt from Developing High Impact Pedagogies.
  • University of Sheffield Learning and Teaching Conference 2016 'Encouraging Creativity through Curriculum Review'
  • Key Note Speech Leeds Becket University January 2016 'Lessons Learnt from Developing High Impact Pedagogies'
  • Paper at the Association of Law Teachers Conference at Northumbria university March 2016 'Encouraging Creativity through Curriculum Review'.
  • Key Note Speech at the University of Sussex in April 2016 to the whole University Learning and Teaching Day 'Transformative Partnerships'  'Students as Partners in Learning and Change'
  • Key Note Speech 'Building Academic Communities' Canterbury Christ Church University on June 1st 2016
  • Invited by Northumbria Law School's Legal Education and Professional Skills (LEAPS) Research Group to contribute to a one day seminar on experiential learning - 'Experiential Learning in Legal Education: what, why, how?'
  • Key Note Speech at University of West London at the University Learning and Teaching Conference June 2016 - 'Transformative Partnerships' Students as Partners in Learning and Change
  • Key Note at the University of Law- What the TEF! The TEF and Teaching Excellence -September 2016

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • Fellow of Gray’s Inn.
  • Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, 2008.
  • CILASS IBL Award for Excellence in Inquiry-based Learning, 2008/09.
  • Nominated and shortlisted for Personal Tutor of the year at the Student Union awards 2010.
  • Nominated and shortlisted for a ‘Good Work Towards Employability’ Award
  • by students at the annual Student Union Awards 2011.
  • FreeLaw which I manage and co-ordinate won the Enterprise Award voted for by students at the annual Student Union Awards 2012. The award acknowledged Enterprise in the University.
  • I was nominated by Students and Shortlisted in for the Law Teacher of the Year Award 2013.
  • Hosted the National Miscarriages of Justice Day at The University of Sheffield in 2012.
  • Invited to Chair the Innocence Network UK Annual Training and Conference in 2011 and 2012.
  • Developing international links and internships for students in the USA.
  • UG and PG external examiner; Queen’s University Belfast and City University London.
  • Vice Chair of Governors and Trust Board member of 2 local Schools.
  • Nominated and shortlisted for Personal Tutor of the year at the Student Union awards 2010 and 2014
  • Nominated and shortlisted for a ‘Good Work Towards Employability’ Award by students at the annual Student Union Awards 2011 and 2013
  • Won the Student Union Awards for Employability in 2014
  • Nominated and shortlisted for a Enterprise and Teaching Excellence Award by students at the annual Student Union Awards in 2015

Key Publications

Green, A. and McGourlay, C. (2015)  The wolf pack in our midst and other products of criminal joint enterprise prosecutions' J. Crim. L., 79(4), 280-297

McGourlay, C. and Walker, C. 'The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System' Howard Journal, Volume 54, Issue 5, December 2015

McGourlay, C. and Wells, PJ. 'The Ethics of Plea Bargaining' Crim, L.R. 2013, 2, 174-175

Doak, J. and McGourlay, C. (2012) Criminal Evidence in Context. 3rd Edn. Routledge Cavendish

McGourlay, C. (2012) Criminal Evidence Statute Book. 4th Edn. Routledge Cavendish

McGourlay, C. and Quinton Smith, G. (2011)  The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Hope for the Innocent? Howard Journal.

McGourlay, C. (2006) Is Criminal Practice Impervious to Logic?: R v Hayter. International Journal of Evidence and Proof

Department for Constitutional Affairs Consultation Paper (CP2104) The Independent Review of the Community Legal Service 25 June 2004

Shapland J., Otterburn A., Canwell N., Corré C., Hagger L. (1998) Affording Civil Justice: Report to The Law Society March 1998 (nee Corre)