Zaina Mahmoud

Zaina Mahmoud

Birmingham Law School
Socio-Legal Research Fellow

Contact details

Zaina is a socio-legal scholar and, as such, takes an empirical approach to enhancing the legal analytical component of her research. At Birmingham, Zaina is working on the Wellcome trust funded project Everyday Cyborg 2.0: law’s boundary work and alternative legal futures.’ 

She completed her Wellcome Trust-funded PhD at the Wellcome Centre of Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter. Her thesis encompassed empirical socio-legal research on surrogacy regulation and its implications for surrogates’ autonomy, health, and wellbeing. She is a co-investigator on Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law (primary investigator: Dr Katherine. Wade, University of Leicester and co-investigators Dr Kirsty Horsey, University of Kent).

Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, she completed a LL.M in Intellectual Property Law (2018) and Graduate LL.B.(2017) at the University of Exeter. She also completed a B.A. (2015) from the University of Western Ontario.


  • PhD in Law, University of Exeter, anticipated 2023*
  • LL.M in Intellectual Property Law, University of Exeter, 2018
  • Gradate LL.B. University of Exeter, 2017 
  • B.A. (Hons) in Medical Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Ontario, 2015


Zaina completed her B.A. at the University of Western Ontario, studying medical sciences and psychology (2015). She relocated to the United Kingdom to undertake the Graduate LL.B. degree (2017) and completed a dissertation examining the legal requirement of consideration for contract formation in light of the proposed EU Directive on Certain Aspects Concerning Contracts for the Supply of Digital Content. After completing the qualifying law degree, Zaina pursued an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law, focussing on a comparative legal analysis into European and American morality concerns within the biotechnological patent regimes as related to human germline genetic engineering. She undertook a comparative socio-legal PhD that aimed to create and sustain a culture and environment that promotes the autonomy, health, and wellbeing of surrogates, by developing an alternative legal framework of surrogacy regulation, informed by an examination of surrogates’ lived experiences in Britain and California. She previously worked as a research associate at a fertility clinic, a novel role created to foster and develop industry-based socio-legal research. Specifically, her work focused on trends and outcomes in relation to egg donation and elective egg freezing.

Her joint research on the Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law project and her PhD were cited by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics relating to the views of children in Surrogacy law in the UK: ethical considerations – Briefing Note. Additionally, her work, including her PhD fieldwork, publications, and projects with others were cited in the Law Commission of England and Wales and Scottish Law Commissions’ joint final report Building families through surrogacy: a new law (Law Com No 411; Scot Law Com No 262).

She has a track record of securing external funding for various engagement and impact research activities, including:

  • The Surrogacy Act, an interactive game exploring the experiences of surrogates and the legal system that shapes surrogacy in the UK (Wellcome Enhance Research Award (£2,000))
  • Future Directions in Surrogacy Law, one-day high profile conference (Society of Legal Scholars Small Grant (£3,770), further funding from three London-based law firms, a fertility clinic, and a surrogacy organisation (total: £5,000))
  • Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law (principal investigator: Dr. Katherine Wade, University of Leicester; co-investigator: Dr. Kirsty Horsey, University of Kent), a project that collects and analyses children’s views on surrogacy law reform (Institute of Medical Ethics (£9,937.60) and a Research England grant (£12,000))

She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate students at Exeter Law School, delivering content on undergraduate core modules (Contract Law and Public Law), elective modules (Comparative Contract Law and Family Law), and postgraduate modules (Family Law & Social Change and Socio-Legal Research Skills). She was previously employed as an Assistant Teacher at the University of Bristol on the elective Medical Law module, and taught on the postgraduate course, Law, Governance and Health.


Research interests

Surrogacy, pregnancy, reproductive technology, medical regulation

Current projects

Other activities


  • Mahmoud, Z. and Romanis, E.C., (2023), “Centring Diverse Voices in Pregnancy and Childbirth.” In Romanis, E.C. Germain, S., and Herring, J., (eds) Diverse Voices in Health Law: Important Perspectives. BUP. forthcoming
  • Mahmoud, Z. and Romanis, E.C., (2023), On Gestation and Motherhood, Medical Law Review, 31(1): 109-140.
  • Horsey, K. and Mahmoud, Z., (2023), Surrogates’ and intended parents’ experiences of surrogacy arrangements: a systematic review, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 46(1): 7-9.