Dr John Child

Dr John Child

Birmingham Law School
Senior Lecturer in Criminal Law

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr John Child specialises in criminal law, doctrine and theory, and the relationship between criminal law and neuroscience. John co-authors a leading criminal law textbook, Smith, Hogan and Ormerod’s Essentials of Criminal Law, as well as co-directing the Criminal Law Reform Now Network.


  • PhD, University of Birmingham


John has been at Birmingham since 2018. Prior to this, John held posts at Sussex Law School (2013-2018); Oxford Brookes Law School (2010-13); and the Criminal Law Team at the Law Commission for England and Wales (2007-8). John has held visiting positions at Boston University; the University of Birmingham; as well as the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg.


John specialises in Criminal Law, convening and/or teaching crime related modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Postgraduate supervision

John has supervised several students to the successful completion of their PhD. John is interested in doctoral candidates in criminal law doctrine and theory, comparative criminal law, and/or criminal law and neuroscience.

  • Rachel Gimson (2016): ‘Captured red handed: the impact of social media on the evolving concepts of the criminal defendant and the presumption of innocence’;
  • Stavros Demetriou (2017): 'Anti-Social Behaviour and Civil Preventive Measures: Creating Localised Criminal Codes?';
  • Nicholas Sinclair-House (2018): ‘Sentencing Intoxicated Defendants’

Find out more - our PhD Law  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


John’s research interests centre on criminal law theory, and particularly the internal structuring of offences and defences within the general part, where he has published widely.

John has contributed to several law reform and review exercises, including:

  • Law Commission consultations on Attempt; Conspiracy; Assisting and Encouraging; Intoxication; Bribery; Offences Against the Person; New Programmes of Law Reform;
  • House of Common's Justice Committee - Post Legislative Scrutiny of the Serious Crime Act 2007;
  • Cabinet Office - consultancy on corruption legislation.

John provides expert peer review for the Criminal Law Review; Oxford Journal of Legal Studies; Criminal Law and Philosophy; Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy; and the AHRC (Peer Review College). 

Other activities



  • Child and Ormerod, Smith, Hogan, and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law (3rd Ed, OUP, 2019)
  • Child and Ormerod, Smith, Hogan, and Ormerod's Essentials of criminal law (2nd Ed, OUP, 2017);
  • Child and Ormerod, Smith and Hogan's Essentials of Criminal Law (OUP, 2015);

Edited Collections

Journal Articles

  • Child, ‘Defence of a Basic Voluntary Act Requirement in Criminal Law from Philosophies of Action’ (2021) 24(1)  New Criminal Law Review;  
  • Child, ‘Understanding ulterior mens rea: future conduct intention is conditional intention’ (2017) Cambridge Law Journal, 311-336;
  • Jahangir, Child and Crombag ‘Prior fault and contrived criminal defences: coming to the law with clean hands’ (2017) Institute of Law Review, 1-15;
  • Child and Rogers, ‘Criminal Law Reform Now: a New Reform Network’ (2017) Journal of Criminal Law, 282‑291;
  • Child, ‘[Review] Matthew Dyson, James Lee and Shona Wilson Stark (2016) Fifty years of the Law Commissions the dynamics of law reform’ (2017) Legal Studies, 569-574;
  • Child, ‘The structure, coherence and limits of inchoate liability: the new ulterior element’ (2014) Legal Studies, 537-559;
  • Child and Hunt, ‘Pace and Rogers and the mens rea of criminal attempt: Khan on the scrapheap?’ (2014) Journal of Criminal Law, 220-225;
  • Child and Reed, ‘Automatism is never a defence’ (2014) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 167-186;
  • Child and Sullivan, ‘When does the insanity defence apply? Some recent cases’ (2014) Criminal Law Review, 788-801;
  • Child, ‘Exploring the mens rea requirements of the Serious Crime Act 2007 assisting and encouraging offences’ (2012) Journal of Criminal Law, 220-231;
  • Child and Hunt, ‘Mens rea and the general inchoate offences: another new culpability framework’ (2012) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 247-268;
  • Child, ‘The differences between attempted complicity and inchoate assisting and encouraging — a reply to Professor Bohlander’ (2010) Criminal Law Review, 924-932;
  • Child, ‘Drink, drugs and law reform: a review of Law Commission Report No.314’ (2009) Criminal Law Review, 488-501. 

Book Chapters

  • Child and Sullivan, ‘The Current State of Murder in English Law, Wrong Turns and All’ in Reed and Bohlander (eds) Homicide. Substantive Issues in Criminal Law (Routledge, 2018 ‑ In Press), 12,087 words;
  • Child and Byrne, ‘Attacks on the mind and the legal limits of the seduction industry’ in Reed, Bohlander, Wake, and Smith (eds) Consent: Domestic and Comparative Perspectives (Routledge, 2017) 52-67;
  • Child, ‘Teaching the elements of crimes’ in Gledhill and Livings (eds) Teaching the Criminal Law (Routledge, 2017) 34-45;
  • Child, ‘Prior fault: blocking defences or constructing crimes’ in Reed and Bohlander (eds) General Defences in Criminal Law (Routledge, 2014) 37-50.


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