Photo of David Hayes

Dr David Hayes

Position: Lecturer in Law
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6778
Room No: EF16A
Twitter ID: @DavidHayes4
Office Hour: You can book an appointment online to see me

Academic Profile

I am an early-career academic, in my first academic position. Itook up this lectureship in September 2014, before which I undertook a PhD at the University of Nottingham. This examined the experience of community penalties supervised by the Probation Service (as it then was) as punishments in their own right. The research identified a range of penal impacts of community penalties that suggest they are not (always, or necessarily) the ‘soft option’ that public discourse tends to dismiss them as.

Since 2014/15, I have developed a range of publications out of my doctoral research, contributing to the emerging literature on how experiences of punishment can contribute to the measurement of penal severity. I have also taken over the role of Programme Director for the LL. B. Law and Criminology, and I am Co-Assistant Director of the Centre for Criminological Research’s research network


  • PhD 
  • MA Socio-Legal and Criminological Research (Distinction), University of Nottingham
  • LLM Criminal Justice (Distinction), University of Nottingham
  • LLB(Hons.) Law, University of Nottingham

Teaching and Learning

For me, the study of law and criminology are part of a course of personal development towards a capacity for critical citizenship – that is, political participation enriched by an awareness of context and a capacity to identify the costs and values of particular courses of action at a personal, community, societal, and international level. In my teaching, I therefore try to emphasise the way in which law is contingent upon its social, political, and cultural contexts.

Central to this process is individual development of one’s own skills and values. In my role as a Personal and Academic Tutor I encourage students to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses, and to think about legal and criminological phenomena outside of and across modular and disciplinary boundaries.

The modules I teach are:

Undergraduate Postgraduate and MA
Criminal Law and Justice
Skills for Criminologists (Convenor)
Advanced Criminal Law and Justice (Convenor)
Punishment and Penal Policy
Criminal Evidence
Prisons and Imprisonment
Theoretical Foundations of Criminal Law (Convenor)

Research Interests

My research clusters around three key overlapping and intersecting themes (given here in no particular order):

1. Measuring Penal Severity: My research aims to explore the possibilities of introducing greater subjectivity and recognition of difference into the measurement of penal severity by academics, policy-makers, and sentencing authorities. It confronts the challenges of recognising difference without compromising our ability to compare and contrast individual cases with one another, in ways that complex human systems can deploy as simply, consistently, and justly as possible.

2. Retribution and the Left: Retributivism sells its penal philosophy in part on the basis that its focus on proportionality encourages penal minimalism and respect for individual freedom. However, since the 1990s this cluster of penal theories has come to be associated almost entirely with right-wing approaches to political economy. This project seeks to explore why this abandonment has taken place, and what, if anything, could be done to produce a ‘retribution on the left’ in anera characterised by authoritarian and managerial penal excess.

3. Law as Mythology: In this project I argue that laws play many similar functions in modern Western societies that mythology played in pre-modern ones. Adopting a ‘mythic account’ of law enables an analysis of the irrational as well as rational foundations of the rule of law, opening up the former ‘irrationales’ as an area for public discourse.

It also enables a greater appreciation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the (hierarchical and totalitarian) rule of law as against its radical alternatives, which tend to be ignored altogether in legal theory, and dismissed out-of-hand as utopian fancies in wider social research.

Member of the Centre for Criminological Research.

Areas of Research Supervision

I am best placed to supervise students in the following broad areas:

  • Criminal Law Theory
  • Penal theory and the philosophies of punishment
  • Punishment in society - Criminal punishment as a socio-political phenomenon

I would also welcome interdisciplinary students from political and philosophical fields whose projects involve a criminal-legal or criminological element (or vice versa).

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • ‘Factors Influencing the Severity of the Pains of (Supervised) Community Punishment in England and Wales: An Over-Descriptive Overview’, European Society of Criminology Working Group on Community Sanctions and Measures, Sheffield, UK (June 2015);
  • ‘Pain and State Punishment: Identifying Punishment and Penal Severity in a Community Context’, Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, York, UK (September 2015);
  • ‘Penal Excess and Subjective Impact: Prospects for Retributivism in Modern Penology’, European Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Muenster, Germany (September 2016).

Professional Activities and Recognition

Member of the European Society of Criminology

Key Publications

Journal articles