Edinburgh Research Explorer

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Shawn is happy to entertain PhD proposals in the areas of medical jurisprudence, compassionate care and the law, medical devices and/or the regulation of new technologies, and human rights and equality.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Laws, University of Edinburgh
Master of Laws, University of Edinburgh
Bachelor of Laws, University of New Brunswick
Bachelor of Arts, Saint Mary's University

Professional Qualifications

2013PG Certificate in Academic Practice, PG-CAP
Barrister and Solicitor, Esq.


Shawn Harmon is a Reader in Law who specialises in international and domestic medical law and jurisprudence, human rights and the regulation of new and emerging technologies, particularly those implicating human health and wellbeing, and the operation of law in dynamic and culturally contested settings.  He has a particular interest in how high-level and deeply-held socio-moral values are expressed, operationalised in law and regulation, and experienced by groups and individuals acting in different settings.

Shawn's past and ongoing work has explored ethico-legal issues in medical practice, medical research, and biotech innovation, and the interaction of research governance frameworks with other regulatory frameworks, including commercial, human rights, medical, and ethical.  He has examined regulatory instruments in the biobank, stem cell research, public health, medical devices, disability, and cultural practices settings, adopting a comparative approach.  Shawn's interest in interdisciplinarity, empirical research and the potential of the arts to challenge modes of governing and acting has led to diverse collaborations with disciplines outside of the law.  His research has been funded by the ESRC, AHRC, IMI, Wellcome Trust, and UEDIN's Challenge Investment Fund, Moray Fund, KEI Fund, and Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities.

Shawn is a co-founder and Deputy Director of the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law, an interdisciplinary research institute located within the School of Law. He is also a Research Collaborator at the Technology Regulation Research Unit, Dalhousie U, Canada. He is Joint Editor-in-Chief of Medical Law International and former Editor-in-Chief of SCRIPTed – A Journal of Law, Technology & Society. Shawn teaches ‘Health, Research and Commercialisation’, 'Compassionate Care and the Law', ‘International Public Health Law and Ethics’, ‘Biotechnology, Law & Society’, ‘Risk and Regulation: Health and the Environment’, and he contributes to a range of other courses in different Schools.  He is a Tutor on the ‘Medical Law & Ethics’ CPD programme.

Shawn is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College, and he has published in wide range of rigorous, peer-reviewed international journals, including those in law, the social sciences, and the arts.



Qualified Barrister and Solicitor, Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, Canada

Certified Mediator and Alternative Dispute Resolution Practitioner

Trained Qualitative Researcher

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