I am the Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law at Lincoln College, Oxford. I was formerly a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Law and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Law at Christ Church, Oxford. I hold an LLB (First Class) from the University of Edinburgh and MSc (Distinction), MA (Honorary), and DPhil degrees from the University of Oxford. I work on topics at the intersection of Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, and Jurisprudence.

My first book, Respect and Criminal Justice, was published by OUP in 2020 and has been shortlisted for the Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2021. It has received the following reviews: ‘An imaginative, sensitive, and finely-textured interpretation’ Nicola Lacey CBE FBA (LSE) for Oxford University Press | ‘Refreshingly original and bold… work of outstanding quality’ Justice Tankebe (Cambridge) for Oxford University Press | ‘A significant contribution to the field... an indispensable reference’ Loraine Gelsthorpe and Kyle Treiber (Cambridge) General Editors’ Introduction | ‘Admirably far-reaching [and] rigorous… an impressive debut’ David Hayes (Sheffield) for Criminology and Criminal Justice

I am currently writing a second book entitled Just Words? Ethics and the Language of Criminal Justice. It charts the shift towards an ethical vocabulary in criminal justice in recent decades, and examines how the terms ‘fairness’, ‘humanity’, ‘hope’, ‘decency’, ‘dignity’, and ‘justice’ shape the process of calling individuals to account for their alleged wrongdoing. I am also involved in a project on the ethics of pleading guilty led by Julian Roberts (Oxford) and Jesper Ryberg (Denmark). 

I teach the core undergraduate papers in Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, and Jurisprudence, convene the optional undergraduate paper in the Philosophy of Punishment, and contribute to the optional postgraduate paper in Advanced and Comparative Criminal Law. I am strongly committed to access and widening participation at Oxford, and welcome enquiries from Law applicants from non-selective state schools and colleges, and those with no prior exposure to higher education.

In Spring 2019, I was elected to the Inaugural Visiting Fellowship in Law at the newly instituted Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice. In Autumn 2021, I will return to the CCCJ and take up a Visiting Fellowship at Downing College.


Selected publications

Chapter (1)

G Watson, 'The Guilty Plea and Self-Respect' in JV Roberts and J Ryberg (eds), Pleading Guilty: New Perspectives on the Ethics of Self-Conviction (Oxford: Hart Bloomsbury 2022) (forthcoming)

Presentation/Conference contribution (5)

G Watson, ‘Keywords: Ethical Discourse and Criminal Justice’, paper presented at Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics, University of Cambridge (2019)
G Watson, 'Respect', paper presented at Key Legal Concepts at the Intersection of Law, History, and Literature, Freie Universität Berlin (2018)
G Watson, 'Respect', paper presented at Conceptual Convergences: Juridical and Textual Understanding, University of Oxford and Freie Universität Berlin (2018)

Journal Article (2)

G Watson, 'Ethics at Sentencing, Guilty Pleas, and the Case for Respect' (2021) 2 Current Sentencing Practice News 6

Other (4)

Review (2)

G Watson, 'Review of Antje du Bois-Pedain and Anthony Bottoms (eds.) Penal Censure: Engagements Within and Beyond Desert Theory' (2021) Criminal Law and Philosophy [Review] (forthcoming)

Book (1)

Report (1)

G Watson, 'Ageing Prisoners: Review of the International Literature commissioned by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland' (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland 2016)

Research programmes

Research Interests

  • Criminal Law and Justice
  • Philosophy of Law, and especially of Punishment

Options taught

Jurisprudence, Criminal Law (Mods), Constitutional Law (Mods), Advanced and Comparative Criminal Law

Research projects