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Professor Paul Lawrence

Profile summary

  • Professor of History
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Arts & Humanities
  • History
  • paul.lawrence

Professional biography

Paul Lawrence is Asa Briggs Professor of History, Head of the History Department, and a member of the International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice,. He has worked at the Open University since receiving his doctorate in 1998 from Royal Holloway College, London University (for a thesis entitled 'Immigration, National Identity and Public Opinion in France, 1919-1939').


Prof. Paul Lawrence
Department of History
Faculty of Arts
The Open University
Walton Hall

Tel: + 44 (0)1908 652998
Fax: + 44 (0)1908 653750

Research interests

All aspects of criminal justice history, c.1750-present;  the historiography of nationalism; the social history of poverty and welfare; memoirs and autobiographies as historical sources.

Current research projects include a broad history of the Vagrancy Act (1824) and its manifold impacts on English society, a history of the development and impact of Photofit as a technology of police identification, and a theoretical piece analysing the genesis and trajectory of historical criminology.

I am currently supervising three Ph.D. students, as below, but Ph.D. applications on any of the above topics are welcome. For informal advice, please contact me as detailed above..

Ashley Paton 'Conceptions of Marital Violence in Victorian Glasgow'

Louise Ryland-Epton 'Welfare Innovation in the Late Eighteenth Century: Gilbert's Act 1782-1834'

Jack Taylor 'Sexual Violence against Men, c.1696-1861'

Teaching interests

I am currently seconded from my teaching duties while I serve as co-Lead of the University's new Research and Enterprise Plan. In the past, I have served as production chair for a second level history module A225 The British Isles and the Modern World, 1789-1914, which introduces students to the development of Britain and Ireland over the long nineteenth century, foregrounds interconnections with the wider world.  I was production co-chair of A326 Empires, 1492-1975, which focussed on the  comparative history of empires over the longue durée, and have written teaching Units for A200 Exploring History: Medieval to Modern, 1400-1900, for A824 Social Problems, Social Thought, Social Action, for A825 MA History and for W100 Rules, Rights and Justice. An Introduction to Law.

External collaborations

The Open University is currently a member of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.. I am the Deputy Director of the Consortium and represent the Open University on its Management Board.  

I am the Editor of the  bi-lingual journal Crime, History and Societies/Crime, Histoire et Societes.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences
International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and JusticeCentreFaculty of Arts


Historical Criminology and the Explanatory Power of the Past (2019-09-01)
Lawrence, Paul
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 19(4) (pp. 493-511)
Policing, ‘Science’ and the Curious Case of Photo-FIT (2019)
Lawrence, Paul
The Historical Journal ((In Press))
The Vagrancy Act (1824) and the Persistence of Pre-emptive Policing in England since 1750 (2017-05-01)
Lawrence, Paul
British Journal of Criminology, 57(3) (pp. 513-531)
History, Criminology and the 'Use' of the Past (2012)
Lawrence, Paul
Theoretical Criminology, 16(3) (p 313)
Road traffic offending and an inner-London magistrates’ court (1913-1963) (2008)
Donovan, Pamela and Lawrence, Paul
Crime, History and Societies, 12(2) (pp. 119-140)
The Paris police and the regulation of the poor in late-nineteenth-century Paris (2003)
Lawrence, Paul
Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, 29 (pp. 176-185)
'Degrees of foreignness' and the construction of identity in French border regions during the inter-war period (2001-03)
Lawrence, Paul; Baycroft, Timothy and Grohmann, Carolyn
Contemporary European History, 10(1) (pp. 51-71)
Naturalization, ethnicity and national identity in France between the wars (2001)
Lawrence, Paul
Immigrants and Minorities, 20(3) (pp. 1-24)
History and Crime (2008)
Lawrence, Paul; Williams, Chris and Godfrey, Barry
Key Approaches to Criminology
ISBN : 9781412920803 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
History and Crime (2007)
Godfrey, Barry S.; Williams, Chris A. and Lawrence, Paul
Key approaches to criminology
ISBN : 978 1 4129 2079 7 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London, UK
Crime and justice 1750-1950 (2005-10)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 1843921170 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton, Devon, UK
Nationalism: history and theory (2005)
Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 582438012 | Publisher : Pearson Longman
The Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice (2016-05)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Knepper, Paul and Johansen, Anja eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice. The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 17-37)
ISBN : 978-0199352333 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
General Introduction [to the series] (2014-02-01)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Dodsworth, Francis ed. The Making of the Modern Police, 1780-1914: volume 1 - "The 'Idea' of Policing (vii-xxiii)
ISBN : 978-1138761568 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
The British police (2014)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Bruinsma, Gerben and Weisburd, David eds. Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 203-213)
ISBN : 978-1-4614-5689-6 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag | Published : New York
Nationalism and historical writing (2013)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Breuilly, John ed. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism. Oxford Handbooks in History (pp. 713-730)
ISBN : 978-0-19-920919-4 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
« They have an admirable police at Paris, but they pay for it dear enough ». La police européenne vue d’Angleterre au XIXe siècle (2012-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Denys, Catherine ed. Circulations policières, 1750-1914 (pp. 103-118)
ISBN : 978-2-7574-0393-8 | Publisher : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion | Published : Lille
The Police and Vagrants in France and England during the Nineteenth Century (2011)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Antonielli, Livio ed. Polizia, ordine pubblico e crimine tra città e campagna: un confronto comparative. Stato, esercito controllo del territorio (pp. 49-60)
ISBN : 978-88-498-2924-2 | Publisher : Rubbettino | Published : Manelli
Fabian, Robert Honey (1901-1978) (2010-09-23)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Goldman, Lawrence ed. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Cop Culture? Les Récits de Vie Oraux et Écrits Des Policiers Anglais (2010-07)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Berlière, Jean Marc and Lévy, René eds. Le témoin, le sociologue et l'historien: Quand les policiers se mettent à table (pp. 227-239)
ISBN : 978-2-84736-448-4 | Publisher : Nouveau Monde éditions | Published : Paris
Urbanization, poverty, and crime (2005-12)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Martel, Gordon ed. A Companion to Europe 1900-1945. Blackwell companions to European History (pp. 3-18)
ISBN : 1405106646 | Publisher : Blackwell | Published : Oxford, UK
Policing the poor in England and France, 1850-1900 (2004-08)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Emsley, Clive; Johnson, Eric and Spierenburg, Pieter eds. Social control in Europe Volume 2: 1800-2000 (pp. 210-225)
ISBN : 814209696 | Publisher : Ohio State University Press | Published : Ohio, USA
'Scoundrels and scallywags, and some honest men ...': Memoirs and the self-image of French and English policemen c.1870-1939 (2003-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Godfrey, Barry; Emsley, Clive and Dunstall, Graeme eds. Comparative Histories of Crime (pp. 125-144)
ISBN : 1843920379 | Publisher : Willan Publishing
Crime and Justice since 1750 (2nd ed) (2014-11-01)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-70855-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Policing the Poor (2014-02-28)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The Making of the Modern Police
ISBN : 9781848933712 | Publisher : Pickering & Chatto | Published : London
The New Police in the Nineteenth Century (2011-03)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The History of Police
ISBN : 978-0-7546-2945-0 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham, U.K.

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