The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Derek Bell

Professor Environmental Political Theory


I am Head of Politics and I lead the Political Philosophy research cluster.  My research is on environmental and social justice and I co-teach a third stage undergraduate module, 'Community-based research in politics', which gives students the opportunity to conduct original applied research in collaboration with local voluntary and public sector organisations.


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), School Postgraduate Director (2008-10, Politics Postgraduate Research and Taught Programmes Director (2008-10), and Politics Research Director (2012-15).  I have also been a member of University Senate (2008-11).


Research Interests

My research is on environmental and social justice. I have recently completed a chapter, 'Justice on One Planet', for the Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics (ed. by Stephen Gardiner and Allen Thomson). I am working on a co-authored monograph, Global Justice and Climate Change (with Prof. Simon Caney, Oxford University). I am completing a co-edited book, Justice and Fairness in the City (with Prof. Simin Davoudi, Newcastle University).


Postgraduate Supervision

I am happy to supervise students working in any of my research interests. I am also happy to supervise students in other areas of contemporary political philosophy, ethics and environmental politics.

I have co-supervised eight 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)

I currently supervise 3 students:

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

Jayne Carrick - Bayesian networks, public participation and offshore wind energy (ESRC studentship)

Iman Cherkwani


Fracking and Environmental Liability - REFINE (with Anthony Zito, Ole Pedersen and Jaime Amezaga), 2016, c.£15k

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