The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Derek Bell

Professor of Environmental Political Theory


I completed my BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Balliol College, Oxford University in 1990 before returning to the North-East of England. In 1993, I was awarded a British Academy studentship to study for a PhD at Newcastle University under the supervision of Peter Jones and Simon Caney. My PhD on 'The metaethical and ethical basis of political theory: a dual standpoint approach' critically examined Thomas Nagel's moral philosophy and attempted to develop a distinctive account of justice. I completed it in 1999 and was awarded the PSA's annual Sir Ernest Barker Prize for the Best Dissertation in Political Theory (1999). I was Leverhulme Special Research Fellow at Newcastle University from 2001-3.  In 2003, I was appointed to a Lectureship in Political Thought at Newcastle University.  In 2006, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer.  In 2012, I became Reader in Environmental Political Theory and in 2014 I was promoted to a Chair in Environmental Political Theory. I have previously been Head of Politics (2005-8; 2015-19), School Postgraduate Director (2008-10), Politics Postgraduate Research and Taught Programmes Director (2008-10), and Politics Research Director (2012-15).  



My research is on environmental and social justice. I am particularly interested in questions about responsibilities for addressing injustices and preventing harms in the Anthropocene. My current project considers the limits of individual responsibilities for global problems, such as climate change.


Postgraduate Supervision

I am happy to supervise students working on environmental and social justice.

I have co-supervised ten students to completion:

Lindsay Palmer - The socio-political and technical dynamics of mine water remediation. (ESRC/NERC funded studentship - completed 2008.)

Karen Scott - Promoting well being: community participation, quality of life indicators and sustainability. (ESRC CASE studentship with Blyth Valley Borough Council - completed 2009).

Martyn Griffin - Defending internal deliberation. (ESRC studentship - completed 2010).

Clare Heyward - Environment and cultural identity: towards a new dimension of climate justice. (AHRC studentship - completed 2010). 

Chi-Lun Huang - Environmental justice in Taiwan: the case of nuclear waste and public participation. (Completed 2012)

Joanne Swaffield - Discourses of climate change: climate champions, corporations and behaviour change. (School funded studentship - completed 2012).

Gillian Nelson - China and Climate Justice (Completed 2015)

Peter Eckersley - Local climate governance in England and Germany (Completed 2016)

Cristina Fernandez-Garcia -  Genetic human enhancement of cognitive and moral capacities: ethical evaluation and assessment of their potential impact on social justice.

Iman Cherkwani - The political thought of Sa'adi


Procedural Justice and Local Climate Policy in the UK - Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2011, c.£8k. 

Global Justice and Climate Change - AHRC Research Leave. 2007-8. c.£30k

Global Justice and the Environment - AHRC (with Simon Caney, Oxford). 2004-7. c.£259k

Deliberating the Environment - ESRC Science in Society Programme (with Jan Deckers, Tim Gray, Mary Brennan and Nicola Thompson, Newcastle). 2003-4. c.£45k

Citizenship and the Environment - ESRC Seminar Series (with Andrew Dobson, Keele). 2003-5. c.£15k

Political Liberalism and the Environment - Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship. 2001-3. c.£28k