Professor Martin Loughlin

Professor Martin Loughlin

Professor of Public Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 7.12
Key Expertise
Public law

About me

Martin Loughlin is Professor of Public Law. He was educated at LSE, the University of Warwick and Harvard Law School and held chairs at the Universities of Glasgow and Manchester before returning to LSE in 2000. He was a member of the Editorial Committee of The Modern Law Review from 1987 to 2010, serving as General Editor between 2002-07, and now sits on its Advisory Board. Martin was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2011 and in 2015 was awarded an honorary LL.D. by the University of Edinburgh. He has held research fellowships at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2007-8), Princeton University (20012-13), Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (2016-17), Edinburgh Law School (2019) and Yale Law School (2023) and been a Visiting Professor at several law schools including Osgoode Hall, Paris II, Pennsylvania, Renmin University (Beijing), and Toronto. 

Administrative support:

Complete list of publications (pdf)

Research interests

Martin is currently working on a project about the rule of law and is writing a short book on Political Jurisprudence for the Elgar Advanced Introductions series.


The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd edn 2023) 

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Against Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press, 2022)

A critical analysis of the transformation of constitutionalism from an increasingly irrelevant theory of limited government into the most influential philosophy of governance in the world today.

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read a review essay discussing Against Constitutionalism in the Harvard Law Review.



Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2021), edited by Martin Loughlin and Jens Meierhenrich 

The Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law introduces students, scholars, and practitioners to the theory and history of the rule of law, one of the most frequently invoked-and least understood-ideas of legal and political thought and policy practice. It offers a comprehensive re-assessment by leading scholars of one of the world's most cherished traditions. This high-profile collection provides the first global and interdisciplinary account of the histories, moralities, pathologies and trajectories of the rule of law. Unique in conception, and critical in its approach, it evaluates, breaks down, and subverts conventional wisdom about the rule of law for the twenty-first century.

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Political Jurisprudence (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Political jurisprudence is the branch of jurisprudence that treats law as an aspect of human experience called 'the political'. This is an approach that many contemporary jurists, those whose work presupposes the autonomy of legal order, tend to suppress. In this book, Martin Loughlin assesses the contribution made by political jurists and explains its contemporary significance. Political jurists maintain that the essential characteristics of modern legal order can only be revealed by considering how political authority is constituted. The political is orientated to the fact that people are organized into territorially-bounded units within which authoritative governing arrangements have been established, but the authority of this way of viewing the world is strengthened only through institution-building. Law may be an aspect of the political, but to perform its authority-generating functions effectively it must operate relatively autonomously. The political and the legal operate relationally, without one being reduced to the other. Loughlin introduces the rich literature of political jurisprudence through essays on innovative political jurists such as Hobbes, Burke, Constant, Romano, and Schmitt, and on such central themes as political right, institutionalism, constitutional legality, and reason of state. Building on his earlier books, The Idea of Public Law (OUP 2003) and Foundations of Public Law (OUP 2010), this collection extends his account of this influential strand of European legal thought.

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The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013)

The British constitution is regarded as unique among the constitutions of the world. What are the main characteristics of Britain's peculiar constitutional arrangements? How has the British constitution altered in response to the changing nature of its state - from England, to Britain, to the United Kingdom? What impact has the UK's developing relations with the European Union caused?   As a constitution, it is one that has grown organically in response to changes in the economic, political, and social environment, and which is not contained in a single authoritative text.  By considering the nature and authority of the current British constitution, and placing it in the context of others, Loughlin considers how the traditional idea of a constitution came to be retained, what problems have been generated as a result of adapting a traditional approach in a modern political world, looking at what the future prospects for the British constitution are.

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Foundations of Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Foundations of Public Law offers a distinctive, provocative theory of public law, building on the views first outlined in The Idea of Public Law (OUP, 2003). The theory aims to identify the essential character of public law, explain its particular modes of operation, and specify its unique task.

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The Twilight of Constitutionalism? (Oxford University Press, 2010) (ed. with Petra Dobner)

The concepts and values that underpin traditional constitutionalism are increasingly being challenged by political realities that place substantial power beyond the state. Among the few certainties of a global economy is the growing incongruity between the political (the world of things that need to be ordered collectively in order to sustain society) and the state (the major institution of authoritative political decision-making during modern times). The consequences, and possible remedies, of this double disjunction of politics and state and of state and constitution form the centre of an open debate about 'constitutionalism beyond the state'. The essays gathered in this collection explore the range of issues raised by this debate.

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The Paradox of Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press, 2007) (ed. with Neil Walker)

The book sets out to examine some of the key features of what we describe as the paradox of constitutionalism: whether those who have the authority to make a constitution - the 'constituent power' - can do so without effectively surrendering that authority to the institutional sites of power 'constituted' by the constitutional form they enact. In particular, is the constituent power exhausted in the single constitutive act or does it retain a presence, acting as a critical check on the constitutional operating system and/or an alternative source of authority to be invoked in moments of crisis? These questions have been debated both in different national contexts and at the level of constitutional theory, and these debates are acknowledged and developed in the first two sections of the book.

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The Idea of Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2003)

This book offers an answer to the question: what is public law? It suggests that an adequate explanation can only be given once public law is recognized to be an autonomous discipline, with its own distinctive methods and tasks. Martin Loughlin defends this claim by identifying the conceptual foundations of the public law: governing, politics, representation, sovereignty, constituent power, and rights. By explicating these basic elements of the subject, he seeks not only to lay bare its method but also to present a novel account of the idea of public law.

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Sword and Scales: An Examination of the Relationship between Law and Politics (Hart, 2000)

This work provides a provocative re-assessment of the various tangled relationships between law and politics, and in so doing, examines legal and political thinking on such areas as justice, the state, constitutionalism and rights. It introduces lawyers to certain important themes in some of the key texts of political thought (for example, Plato, Hobbes, Locke and Tocqueville) and introduces political scientists to the legal dimensions of a number of central themes of political studies. The book should be of interest to students and teachers in law and politics.

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Legality and Locality. The Role of Law in Central-Local Government Relations   (Clarendon Press, 1996)

This book seeks to trace the main dimensions of recent conflicts between central departments of governments and local authorities and to reveal something of their significance. It does so by focusing on the role of law in shaping the central-local government relations which is neglected in many contemporary studies and yet is of vital importance in identifying the character of that relationship. Precisely why they should be so is not self-evident. The main objective of this introduction therefore is to highlight the importance of this dimension to the study of central-local relations and then to explain the way in which the key themes of the study are to be addressed. One highly significant aspect of the study is the identification of a process of juridfication which is only gradually becoming clear. This has not only been a major undertaking, it has also been a highly complex, ambiguous, confusing, and frustrating activity. This has caused problems for government and for the judiciary and not surprisingly there have been expressions of discomfort on all sides. This book helps to explain where the process may have gone wrong and why ultimately it may be an objective which cannot be realised. Ultimately what the book seeks to demonstrate is that the issues raised by the government of central-local relations transcend the institution of local government and are directly linked to our system of parliamentary democracy. Furthermore the author argues that the system of central-local government relations has evolved in such a way that it reveals a great deal about our tradition of public law. An examination of these issues through an explication of the themes of legality and locality therefore requires the reader to address basic questions about the nature of contemporary British government.

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Public Law and Political Theory (Clarendon Press, 1992)

The study of public law in the UK has been hampered for many years by an inadequate appreciation among scholars and students of the importance of understanding the different political theories which underpin different models of public law. This short and highly readable work offers students a straightforward introduction to the relationship between public law and political theory and helps them to comprehend the rich literature on both subjects.

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External activities

Martin sits on the Editorial Boards of: The Modern Law ReviewJournal of Contemporary Legal IssuesJus PoliticumRevue de droit politiqueGiornale di Storia costituzionale/Journal of Constitutional HistoryTeoría y Realidad Constitucional; and the Vienna Journal on International Constitutional Law. He is also co-editor of the OUP book series, Oxford Constitutional Theory.

Public engagement