Dr Phil Bielby

Lecturer in Law

Faculty of Business, Law and Politics

+44 (0) 1482 466235

Phil's first degree was in law and his postgraduate research, for which he was awarded a PhD by the University of Sheffield in 2006, was primarily concerned with bioethics.

He has published a monograph, Competence and Vulnerability in Biomedical Research, based on his doctoral work.

Since then, Phil's research has been focused on normative ethico-legal questions in mental health and capacity law, especially on the theoretical dimensions of these questions.

This is also reflected in his teaching interests, as is his commitment to socio-legal and liberal approaches to legal education.


Research Interests

  • Mental health and well-being
  • Mental health and capacity law
  • Medical ethics and law
  • Bioethics
  • Moral, political and legal theory
  • Applied ethics

Research groups

  • Member, Institute of Applied Ethics, University of Hull
  • Member, Law and Compassion Research Network
  • Member, Mental Health Research Hull and East Yorkshire Group


Bielby P, ‘Justifying Mental Health Rights from a Gewirthian Perspective’, Gewirthian Perspectives on Human Rights, Bauhn P (ed), pp 174-190, Routledge (2016)

Bielby P, ‘Ulysses Arrangements in Psychiatric Treatment: Towards Proposals for Their Use Based on ‘Sharing’ Legal Capacity’, Health Care Analysis, vol 22(2), pp 114-142 (2014)

Bielby P, ‘Research on Patients with Dementia’, The Law and Ethics of Dementia, Herring J, Foster C and Doron I (eds), pp 363-380, Hart Publishing (2014)

Bielby P and Ward T, ‘Experts, Rights and Precaution’, 5 Web Journal of Current Legal Issues (2012)

Bielby P, Competence and Vulnerability in Biomedical Research, Springer Verlag (2008)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Medicine, Ethics and the Law
  • Systems of Justice
  • Introduction to Law and its Study
  • Law in the Headlines

Research PhDs

Phil would be interested in supervising research students in

  • ethical and legal issues surrounding public mental health as well as psychological and medical treatment for mental health problems / mental disorder
  • concepts of vulnerability, compassion, care, autonomy and rights and their relationship to mental health and mental capacity law and policy
  • ethical and legal issues surrounding decisional competence to consent to / refuse medical treatment and research by adults
  • the interface between normative legal philosophy / normative ethics and the above areas, especially the application of care ethics and Gewirth and Beyleveld and Brownsword’s ethical and legal thought

Completed PhDs

  • Dr Annabel Howe, Dementia, Advance Decisions and Embodied Experience: Developing a Phenomenologically Grounded Framework to Assess the Legal Validity and Applicability of Advance Decisions under English Law with Persons Experiencing Dementia, first/lead supervisor (2012)

Current PhD Supervisions

  • Jordan Ness (co-supervised with Prof Raphael Cohen-Almagor, School of Law and Politics, University of Hull)

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PCHE)

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • LLB Law (University of Hull)
  • PhD (The University of Sheffield)

Professional highlights

  • Invited speaker on the mental health law panel at the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2011 International Congress in Brighton, UK
  • Jurisprudence Subject Section Convenor for the Society of Legal Scholars, with Dr Mary Neal of The University of Strathclyde (2005-2008)