Newcastle Law School

Staff Profile

Samantha Ryan

Lecturer in Law



BCL (University College Cork) LLM (University College Cork), MPhil (Kings College London)

Honours and Awards

In 1999 I was awarded a Travelling Studentship in Law by the National University of Ireland.


Research Interests

I have always been interested in the boundaries of the criminal law and setting limits as to how the state, in terms of its criminal justice arm, can control or limit human behaviour. In particular I am interested in ensuring that we confine criminal liability to behavior that truly deserves the serious sanction of criminal punishment.  Not every morally repugnant act should be subject to legal punishment.

I have touched on this in my previous research on criminal liability for the transmission of HIV. In particular, in relation to the issue of disclosure of ones HIV status prior to engaging in sexual intercourse, I argued that whilst morally we may expect disclosure this did not mean that the absence of it should necessarily lead to criminal sanction. I am currently interested in the idea of justifiable non-disclosure, the importance of relationship type and the difference between silence and lying in the context of criminal liability for HIV transmission. 

 I am also interested in the idea of policing pregnancy and foetal personhood. This is an area which raises key concerns about the appropriateness of involving the criminal law and determining whether morally dubious behavior should be subject to criminal liability. A third research interest relates to the use of strict liability for under-age sex crimes and its relationship to human rights and ideas of due process.  

I am also interested in the laws of criminal evidence and human rights.

Other Expertise

I have in the past carried out research into the attrition rate in rape and sexual assault offences.

Current Work

I am currently working on two research papers. One on the issue criminal liability for HIV transmission which considers the relevance of relationship type and the distinction between silence and lies regarding ones HIV-positive status. The other paper addresses the subject of policing pregnancy - whether women who consume alcohol or drugs whilst pregnant should be subject to criminal sanction.

Postgraduate Supervision

If you wish further information on reading for a research degree at Newcastle Law School please see


Undergraduate Teaching

criminal law. law, gender and sexuality