Magdalena Furgalska

Magdalena Furgalska

Birmingham Law School
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


  • MA Social Research, University of Birmingham, Distinction
  • LLM Law, University of Birmingham, Distinction
  • LLB Law, University of Hull, First Class


I am an early career researcher in the final year of my PhD. I am a recipient of the Economic and Social Research Council 1+3 Scholarship. Prior to my PhD I have obtained MA in Social Research, LLM Law and LLB Law and worked as an Assistant Practice Manager at a leading set of Chambers in Birmingham.

I am currently teaching Land Law and Law & Medicine to undergraduate students at the Durham Law School, Durham University. I am also a guest lecturer at the York Law School, University of York on the Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law.

I also work as a Research Assistant on the CLARiTY Project. The project is a collaboration from Birmingham Law School (Professor Rosie Harding and myself), solicitors’ firm and charities. The project improves access to justice for people with learning disabilities and their carers through a number of sessions on relevant legal information during the COVID-19 crisis. I have previously worked as a Research Assistant (reporting to Professor Rosie Harding) on the Everyday Decisions and Supported Will-Making Projects. The projects explored lived experiences of people with learning disabilities and decision-making processes. As a result of this research, I have co-authored (with Prof Rosie Harding) a report for the Law Commission. 

I have previously worked on the UN Women Project on gender equality in Constitutional Law. As part of the project I published an original paper examining abortion provisions in Kenyan law following the introduction of the new Constitution in 2010. I am an experienced research fellow / assistant having worked on socio-legal and interdisciplinary project since late 2016. I held Research Assistant / Research Fellow appointments at the World Health Organization, University of Birmingham, University of York, Durham University and Kent University.

As a Research Fellow at the World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Rights and Research, I worked in a team responsible for conducting systematic reviews that will underpin the law and policy chapter of the next edition of the Safe Abortion Guidance. I reported to Professor Fiona de Londras. Previously, I worked for Professor Fiona de Londras and Mairead Enright on preparing a monograph on abortion law in Ireland. I have also assisted Professor de Londras on other abortion research and research on counter-terrorism.

I have also worked as a Research Assistant on the large-scale socio-legal project funded by the Australian Research Council. The project explored the issue of image based sexual abuse in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. I reported to Professor Clare McGlynn (Durham University) and Professor Erika Rackley (Kent University). As part of my role I organized the launch of the final project report which was held at the House of Commons and the Supreme Court (UK). I continue to work for Professor Clare McGlynn on projects relating to cyberflashing, sexual violence, #MeToo movement and justice. I have also assisted Professor Erika Rackley with her Women’s Legal Landmarks project.

At the University of Birmingham I also worked as a Research Assistant on the Everyday Cyborgs Project (reporting to Professor Muireann Quigley) and as an ad-hoc Research Assistant to Professor Sylvie Delacroix in the area of law, informatics and ethics.

I was also a Team Leader for the All Parliamentary Party Group for Disability Law Student Project. I led a group of undergraduate students from the University of Birmingham, Law School on the APPG for Disability national enquiry into civic participation of disabled people in the UK.

In 2019, I organised a successful workshop on the “Future of Advance Decisions in Mental Capacity and Mental Health Law” that attracted interdisciplinary audience. In 2020, I organised a workshop on Socio-Legal Methodologies attracting presenters and audiences from all over the world.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Achieving Social Justice for Psychiatric Survivors: Capabilities and Advance Consent in Mental Health Law
Professor Rosie Harding and Dr Emma Oakley
Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur


My thesis explores advance consent to mental health treatment in English Law. Advance consent is a form of self-binding advance decision. This means that people who experience mental distress may choose (when well) to consent to treatment for instances when they might not be able to make their own decisions because of fluctuating capacity or they might wish to consent to treatment that they know they have a history refusing when ill. My PhD is data-driven as the project explores lived experiences of psychiatric survivors in England and Wales and British Columbia, Canada (where advance consent is available under the law). I use narrative and photo-elicitation methods to collect my data and critical discourse analysis to analyse the data.

The issue of advance consent is currently on the law reform agenda in England and Wales. The Law Commission recommended the introduction of an advance consent provision in their 2017 report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty. However, no provision of this nature has been included in the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. In the Wessely review of the Mental Health Act (December 2018), the introduction of an Advance Choice Document has been recommended, which would allow psychiatric survivors to voice their views about any future inpatient care and treatment, which the review recommends should be honoured “unless there are compelling reasons why not”.

Advance consent is therefore a contemporary and timely issue. Nevertheless, the voices of psychiatric survivors are under-represented in the literature and recent developments. The aim of my research is to address this gap by exploring lived experiences of psychiatric survivors.

I have finalised data collection and analysis in England & Wales. I am focused on writing up the thesis and hope to be able to travel to British Columbia (Canada) in mid-late 2021. Through my research work I have developed a particular interest in utilising innovative empirical methodologies to inform legal policy-making.

Other activities

Research papers presented

  • Furgalska, M. ‘Farther than the eye can see: photo-elicitation as a method for research with vulnerable participants in socio-legal inquiry.’ Birmingham Law School Staff Seminar, October 2020
  • Furgalska, M. ‘Becoming a Psychiatric Survivor: meta-narrative of mental health treatment & lessons for the law.’ Research Seminar, Mental Diversity Law Network, University of Nottingham, July 2020.
  • Furgalska, M. ‘Achieving Social Justice for Psychiatric Survivors’; socio-legal analysis of how to appropriately safeguard advance consent to mental health treatment.’ Annual Socio-Legal Studies Association Conference, April 2020. (Paper accepted but the conference was cancelled.)
  • Furgalska, M. ‘Advance Consent in Mental Health Law”, SureSearch, September 2019.
  • Furgalska, M. ‘Achieving Social Justice for Psychiatric Survivors: Capabilities and Advance Consent to Mental Health Treatment’, Centre for Health, Law, Science and Policy, May 2019.  University of Birmingham. 

Membership of organisations

  • Socio-Legal Studies Association
  • Mental Diversity Law Network
  • Centre for Health, Law, Science and Policy, University of Birmingham
  • Global Legal Studies Research Group, Birmingham Law School
  • Care, Relationships and Health Law, Birmingham Law School
  • Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences, Durham University
  • Member of the Management Group for the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account for Strategic Planning and Funding, University of Birmingham.
  • Member of the Peer Review College for the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account for Strategic Planning and Funding, University of Birmingham.
  • Postgraduate Research Representative, Birmingham Law School.
  • Member of the Birmingham Law School Research Committee.

Research and other funding

  • Secured funding from the Birmingham Law School for organising the event titled: ‘The Future of Advance Decisions in Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law’ held in May 2019.
  • In addition to my ESRC Scholarship I secured funding for Overseas Fieldwork Trip from the ESRC.
  • Experience in assessing and reviewing funding application from social-sciences (through my work for the ESRC IAA at the University of Birmingham).
  • Experience in drafting successful applications for research funds from the ESRC and Wellcome Trusts (through my work as a Research Assistant).


  • Access2Birmingham Law Tutor
  • Tweet in academic capacity @MagdaFurgalska
  • Scholarship from College of Arts and Law (£2000) towards my LLM.


  • Furgalska, M. ‘Psychiatric Survivors’ Views on Advance Consent and Forced Treatment’, Open Justice in the Court of Protection Blog (5th November 2020)
  • McGlynn, C. and Furgalska, M. ‘What does campus justice mean for survivors of sexual violence?’ Socio-legal Studies Blog (23 October 2019)
  • Harding, R., Taşcıoğlu, E. & Furgalska, M. Supported Supported Will Making in Socio-Legal Perspective Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham (April, 2019)