Professor Tim Murphy

Professor Tim Murphy

Emeritus Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Key Expertise

About me

Tim Murphy is an Emeritus Professor Law at LSE. He was born in Nottingham and educated at Nottingham High School and Downing College, Cambridge. He taught at Northwestern University School of Law and the University of Kent at Canterbury before joining LSE in 1978, where he has been Professor of Law since 1999. He has also taught numerous courses for the WEA and the TUC. From 1992-1995 he served as Dean of the Graduate School at LSE. He was General Editor of the Modern Law Review from 1995 to 2002 and is a founder member of the Editorial Board of Law and Critique. In recent years he has served at LSE as Chairman of the Graduate School Committee and Vice-Chairman of the School’s Appointments Committee and took up the post of Deputy Director in September 2005.


  •  (with Xu, Ting) 'The city as laboratory and the urban-rural divide: the revival of private property and its limits in urban China' (2008) China perspectives, 4 . pp. 26-34
  • 'From Subject to System: Some unsystematic systems-theoretic thoughts on Race Equality and Human Rights' in Michael King and Chris Thornhill, ed, Luhmann on Law and Politics: Critical Appraisals and Applications (Hart, 2006) 55-74 (Spanish translation of the chapter to appear shortly)
  • “Theory in Practice in a Global Age: : What Legal Theory Can and Cannot Do” was published in Law in the Global Age and the Future of Korean Law (Korea University 2005) and a revised version will appear in the Socio-Legal Review, (National Law School of India at Bangalore) in 2006.
  • “Durkheim in China”, in Michael Freeman, ed, Law and Sociology (OUP 2006) 107-118
  • “Legal fabrications and the case of "Cultural Property” in Alain Pottage and Martha Mundy, ed, Law Anthropology and the Constitution of the Social (CUP, 2004) 115-14
  • “Include me Out” 29 Journal of Law and Society (2002) 342-354
  • "Law, history of its relation to the social sciences" [for International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Oxford: Elsevier Science, 2001) ed. Neil Smelser and Paul Baltes]
  • "Modernising Justice Inside "UK plc : Mimesis, De-differentiation and Colonisation" (in David Nelken and Jiri Priban, ed, Law’s New Boundaries (Ashgate, 2001) 218-248
  • “Postmodernism: legal theory, legal education and the future” (2000) 7 International Journal of the Legal Professions 357-379


Murphy, Roberts & Flessas, Understanding Property Law, 4th Edition (Sweet & Maxwell 2004)

Understanding Property Law provides a background to an area of law which is notoriously inaccessible. Standing back from their subject, the authors of this book elucidate how the practices of the past have shaped the development and form of the modern law. In doing so they stress the role of lawyers in the transactions - such as sale, gift and inheritance - in which their clients become involved. This focus upon the work which lawyers do in their offices provides a necessary complement to the emphasis on legislation and adjudication found in most textbooks.

click here for publisher's site


The Oldest Social Science: Configurations of Law and Modernity (OUP, 1997)

This book looks critically at some of the underlying assumptions which shape our current understanding of the role and purpose of law and society. It focuses on adjudication as a social practice and as a set of governmental techniques. From this vantage point, it explores how the relationship between law, government and society has changed in the course of history in significant ways. At the centre of the argument is the elaboration of the notion of `adjudicative government'. From this perspective it is argued that the relationship between law and society must be conceived in a different way in the era of economics, sociology and statistics. The impact of these disciplines both constitutes `modernity' and unfolds a different role for law. The author argues that the traditional vision of the role of law, rooted in a complex set of hierarchical assumptions, is no longer adequate.

click here for publisher's site

External activities

  • Tim Murphy has travelled and lectured extensively abroad, most recently in China, Viet Nam, South Korea and India.
  • He has edited (with Lord Wedderburn) Labour Law and the Community (1982) and (with Simon Roberts) Legal Scholarship in the Common Law World (50th Anniversary Number, Modern Law Review, 1987). He also has written numerous book reviews and review articles for the Modern Law Review, the British Journal of Sociology, and the Journal of Law and Society.

Research interests

Current research interests are in the fields of law and social theory; the history and theory of heritage; and law and governance in China.