Elaine Webster


  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research focuses on human rights interpretation.

My core research focuses on interpretation of the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. I am interested in all aspects of this right, including cultural dimensions and its application in the socio-economic sphere. I have written a monograph entitled Dignity, Degrading Treatment and Torture in Human Rights Law: The Ends of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

I have interests in the right to human rights education, and the concept of human dignity in human rights education. Recent and on-going projects consider human rights and human dignity as understood by student teachers and student nurses.

I also have interests in the environmental governance context, including the use and impact of human rights interpretation by different actors, and in the relationship between the right to a healthy environment and the concept of human dignity. I am currently a co-investigator on the UKRI funded One Ocean Hub

Academic / Professional qualifications

I studied Law and French Language (LLB Hons) at the University of Glasgow, International Politics (MA) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Human Rights and Democratisation (MA) at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights, Venice, Italy/Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2010, I was awarded a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. 

Teaching Interests

I have taught human rights law and public law across undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. I am the module leader for Human Rights Law in Theory and Practice at Honours level, and for European Human Rights Law on the LLM in Human Rights Law. 

Personal Statement

I have taught human rights law on classes across the undergraduate LLB curriculum and at postgraduate level. My research interests lie in the field of European and international human rights law, supra-national judicial interpretation of human rights and non-judicial interpretation at the national level. I am particularly interested in the protective human rights obligations of states and the concept of human dignity in human rights law. I completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2010, where I held an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award. 

I lead the activities of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law, which is a focal point for staff and student engagement in human rights law research and teaching. I am Programme Leader for the PgCert/PgDip/LLM Human Rights Law. 

I am currently the Executive Secretary of the Association of Human Rights Institutes and a member of the Scottish Human Rights Commission's Research Advisory Group. 

I have been an Erasmus visiting teacher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and have spent time at the Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium, as a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Caledonian Research Foundation European Visiting Fellow. 

I have an interest in curriculum design and assessment and feedback practices. I am undertaking a PG Diploma in Advanced Academic Studies. I also have in interest in public engagement and was a member of the University's 'Becoming an Engaging Researcher' module steering group in 2013 and 2014. I speak fluent French. 

Expertise & Capabilities

  • The prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
  • European human rights law
  • Human dignity in human rights law
  • Interpretation of human rights, including by civil society
  • Human dignity and human rights education
  • Human rights protection in Scotland and the UK
  • Human rights-based approaches, including in healthcare
  • Human rights interpretation and interactions in the environmental governance context


  • human rights
  • public law
  • human dignity
  • inhuman and degrading treatment
  • education
  • human rights obligations


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