Professor Thomas Poole

Professor Thomas Poole

Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 7.20
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About me

Thomas Poole joined LSE in 2006, and has been Professor of Law since 2015. His research interests include UK constitutional and administrative law, legal and political theory, foreign relations law, constitutional history, law and empire, and the history of political thought. He is author of Reason of State: Law, Prerogative and Empire (Cambridge, 2015) and co-editor of volumes on Hobbes and the Law (Cambridge, 2012), Law, Liberty and State: Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt on the Rule of Law (Cambridge, 2015) and The Double-Facing Constitution: Legal Externalities and the Reshaping of Constitutional Order (Cambridge, 2019).

Tom is General Editor of the Modern Law Review and General Editor of the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law (with David Dyzenhaus).. He also sits on the editorial boards of Public Law Review, Human Rights Law Review and the NILS UK Law Review. Tom has held visiting positions the University of New South Wales (2003-4 & 2005-6), the European University Institute (2007), Melbourne University (2008), the University of Toronto (2008), Princeton University (2008), Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas (2013-14), Auckland University (2016) and the University of Western Australia (2017).

Administrative support:

Research interests

  • Public law

  • Constitutional theory

  • History of constitutional thought



The Double-Facing Constitution (edited with David Dyzenhaus and Jacco Bomhoff) (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

This collection explores some of the many ways in which constitutional orders engage with, and are shaped by, their exteriors. Constitutional and legal theory often marginalize 'foreign' elements, such as norms originating in other legal systems, the movement of individuals across borders, or the application of domestic law to foreign affairs. In The Double-Facing Constitution, these instances of boundary crossing lie at the heart of an alternative understanding of constitutions as permeable membranes, through which norms can and sometimes must travel. Constitutional orders are facing both inwards and outwards - and the outside world influences their interiors just as much as their internal orders help shape their surroundings. Different essays discuss the theoretical and historical foundations of this view (grounded in Kelsen, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and others), and its contemporary relevance for areas as diverse as migration law, the conflict of laws, and foreign relations law.

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Reason of State: Law, Prerogative and Empire (Cambridge University Press, July 2015)

This historically embedded treatment of theoretical debates about prerogative and reason of state spans over four centuries of constitutional development. Commencing with the English Civil War and the constitutional theories of Hobbes and the Republicans, it moves through eighteenth-century arguments over jealousy of trade and commercial reason of state to early imperial concerns and the nineteenth-century debate on the legislative empire, to martial law and twentieth-century articulations of the state at the end of empire. It concludes with reflections on the contemporary post-imperial security state. The book synthesises a wealth of theoretical and empirical literature that allows a link to be made between the development of constitutional ideas and global realpolitik. It exposes the relationship between internal and external pressures and designs in the making of the modern constitutional polity and explores the relationship between law, politics and economics in a way that remains rare in constitutional scholarship.

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Law, Liberty and State edited by Thomas Poole, David Dyzenhaus (Cambridge University Press, May 2015)

Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt are associated with a conservative reaction to the 'progressive' forces of the twentieth century. Each was an acute analyst of the juristic form of the modern state and the relationship of that form to the idea of liberty under a system of public, general law. Hayek had the highest regard for Schmitt's understanding of the rule of law state despite Schmitt's hostility to it, and he owed the distinction he drew in his own work between a purpose-governed form of state and a law-governed form to Oakeshott. However, the three have until now rarely been considered together, something which will be ever more apparent as political theorists, lawyers and theorists of international relations turn to the foundational texts of twentieth-century thought at a time when debate about liberal democratic theory might appear to have run out of steam.

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Hobbes and the Law, edited by Thomas Poole, David Dyzenhaus (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Hobbes's political thought provokes a perennial fascination. It has become particularly prominent in recent years, with the surge of scholarly interest evidenced by a number of monographs in political theory and philosophy. At the same time, there has been a turn in legal scholarship towards political theory in a way that engages recognisably Hobbesian themes, for example the relationship between security and liberty. However, there is surprisingly little engagement with Hobbes's views on legal theory in general and on certain legal topics, despite the fact that Hobbes devoted whole works to legal inquiry and gave law a prominent role in his works focused on politics. This volume seeks to remedy this gap by providing the first collection of specially commissioned essays devoted to Hobbes and the law.

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