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Professor Russell Sandberg

Professor Russell Sandberg

Professor of Law

School of Law and Politics

+44(0)29 2087 5483
3.09, Law Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Media commentator

I specialise in Law and Religion and Legal History. In recent years my research has focused on the relationship between religion and Family Law and upon interdisciplinary approaches to Law. I am a Cardiff graduate, obtaining First Class Honours in his LLB in Law and Sociology in 2005 and a doctorate examining the relationship between religion, law and society in 2010. I served as Head of the Law department between 2016 and 2019.

I am the author of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Religion, Law and Society (Cambridge University Press, 2014). I am co-author of Religion and Law in the United Kingdom (Kluwer Law International, 2011; 2nd ed 2014) which forms part of the International Encyclopaedia of Laws Series.

I have edited or co-edited Law and Religion: New Horizons (Peeters, 2010), Religion and Legal Pluralism (Ashgate, 2015), The Confluence of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Law and History: Critical Concepts in Law (Routledge, 2017), Law and Religion: Critical Concepts in Law (Routledge, 2017) and Leading Works in Law and Religion (Routledge, 2019). I am also the author or co-author of over 70 articles and book chapters addressed to legal, sociological and general readerships.

I am the editor or co-editor of three book series published by Routledge:

  • Leading Works in Law examines how particular legal sub-disciplines have developed by exploring the leading works that have shaped, developed and on occasions confined fields of study.
  • Transforming Legal Histories aims to place the historical study of law at the heart of the law curriculum using history to question and subvert assumptions and expectations of law.
  • ICLARS Series on Law and Religion is designed to provide a forum for the innovative and internationally excellent rapidly research in law and religion.

I am a contributor to The Conversation and Westlaw UK Insight and was a specialist Contributing Editor for Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law (Sweet & Maxwell 2010). My research, which has been cited by the UK Supreme Court and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has included an empirical study, Social Cohesion and Civil Law, into the operation of religious tribunals in Britain funded by the AHRC / ESRC Religion and Society programme. I am actively involved in Cardiff’s Centre for Law and Religion and its Law and Religion Scholars Network. I am co-founder and co-coordinator of the Law and History Research Group.

Further information:

Education and Qualifications

2002 to 2005. LLB in Law and Sociology, First Class Honours, Cardiff  University

2005 to 2010. PhD: Religion, Law and Society - An Analysis of the Interface between the Law on Religion and the Sociology of Religion (Supervised by Professor Norman Doe), Cardiff University

2011: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Current Roles

  • Professor of Law, Cardiff University

Editorial Board Memberships

  • Brill Research Perspectives in Law and Religion
  • Anthem Law and Society Series
  • European Journal of Law and Religion
  • Law and Justice

Previous Roles

  • Specialist Contributing Editor, Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law (Ecclesiastical Law)
  • European representative on the editorial board of the Routledge Series on Law and Religion
  • Elected member of the General Committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society

Professional memberships

  • Co-founder and co-convenor of the Law and History research group
  • Co-founder and member of the Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN)
  • Co-founder and member of the Interfaith Legal Advisers Network (ICLARS)
  • Member of the GW4 Network on Family Regulation and Society
  • Member of the Ecclesiastical Law Society
  • Member of the Selden Society
  • Member of the Society of Legal Scholars
  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association

Academic positions

2016 to 2018: Reader in Law, Cardiff University

2013 to 2016: Senior Lecturer in Law, Cardiff University

2008 to 2013: Lecturer in Law, Cardiff University

Speaking engagements


Sept 2018

The F in Feminist Legal History

Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) Annual Conference, Queen Mary’s London
April 2018

(With S Thompson) Feminist Relational Contract Theory: A New Approach to the ‘Minorities within Minorities’ Debate

Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN), Cardiff University 
June 2017

Religious Tribunals and their Wider Legal Ramifications

Law and Religion Workshop on Courts, University of Edinburgh
June 2017

(With S Thompson) Relational Autonomy and Religious Tribunals

Marriage, Religion and Belief, Humanist Studies Hub and the Law Reform and Public Policy Group in Collaboration with Humanist Society Scotland, University of Glasgow

May 2017

The Perils of Periodization: Reflections from the Interface of Church and State

The Law and Politics of Temporality and Periodization Conference, Cardiff University
March 2017

The Study of Comparative Religious Law: Reflections on the UK Experience

I Diritti Religiosity Nel Prisma Della Comparazione, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
Feb 2017

Judicial Retcons

Law and History Research Group, Cardiff University
Dec 2016

The Wider Issues Raised by Religious Tribunals (co-authored with S Thompson)

Zutshi-Smith Symposium on the Commission on Religion or Belief in British Public Life (CORAB), Bristol University
Oct 2016

Women's Legal History: The Future of Legal History

Full text

'Doing Women's Legal History Conference, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies London 
Sept 2016

Why Must Legal ideas be Interpreted Historically

PowerPoint slides

Staff Seminar, Cardiff School of Law and Politics
May 2016Relational Autonomy and Religious TribunalsLaw and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) 2016 Conference, Cardiff School of Law and Politics
April 2016Church-State Relations in EuropeRegent's Park College, Oxford
February 2016Two Associational Interests: A Legal Response'Can Religious Groups Discriminate?' (Political Theory Research Seminar), Cardiff School for Law and Politics
October 2015The Domestic Case Law on Article 9 ECHR and the "Juridification" of ReligionInterfaith Legal Advisers Network meeting , Farrer & Co, London
September 2015ConclusionWorkshop on 'Natural Law and Christianity', Trinity College, Oxford
September 2015F W MaitlandWorkshop on 'Great Christian Jurists in English Law', Emmanuel College, Cambridge
May 2015The Eweida EnigmaWorkshop on Religious Accommodation: From Theory to Practice, Royal Holloway, University of London
January 2015Avoiding BiasEquality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Review of the Interpretation and Effectiveness of Equality and Human Rights Law relating to Religion or Belief Workshop for Stakeholders, King's College London
May 2014The Navel TreatyLaw and Religion Teaching and Research Conference, Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University
May 2012The Juridification of ReligionStaff Seminar, Reading Law School
March 2012

The Adventures of Religious Freedom: Do Judges Understand Religion

Full text

Staff Seminar, Keele University
February 2012The Legal Status of the Church of EnglandLaw School, University of Westminster
October 2011Accommodating Religion in the UK and France: Some ReflectionsInterfaith Legal Advisers Network Meeting, the Office of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
May 2011The Organisation and Operation of the Courts in the StudySymposium on 'Britain’s Religious Courts: Marriage, Divorce and Civil Law', Cardiff Law School
May 2011Three Cases, An Ex-Archbishop and the Downgrading of Religious Freedom?Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) Conference , Cardiff Law School
October 2010Religious Symbols in UK Schools: Teachers and Other StaffLaw, Religion & Education Conference organised by Institute of Global Law at UCL, Oxford
May 2010The Two Pillars of Religion LawLaw and Religion Scholars Network, Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University
March 2010

The Implications of the Court of Appeal Decision in Ladele and Other Case Law Developments

Full text

Interfaith Legal Advisers Network Meeting , Lambeth Palace, London
February 2010

Islam and English Law


Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK Public Lecture, Cardiff University
June 2009Lamenting Academic Isolationism: The Strange Death of BlasphemyLaw and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) Doctoral Students Conference, Oxford Brookes University
June 2009The Right to Discriminate? Religious Believers and the New Law on Sexual OrientationEcclesiastical Law Society London Lecture, Serle Court, Lincoln's Inn
May 2009What is Law and Religion?Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) Annual Conference, Cardiff Law School
April 2009Tensions Between Equality Strands: When can Religious Believers Discriminate on Grounds of Sexual Orientation?Equality and Human Rights Commission Seminar, 'The Role of Religion and Belief in a "Secular" Society' , Lancaster House Hotel
February 2009Religion and Law: Concessions and Exemptions (with N Doe)‘Religion or Belief’ and Equality and Human Rights Conference run by the British Humanist Association, Cardiff International Arena
September 2008Why Was Blasphemy Abolished?LLM in Canon Law Annual Reunion, Magdalen College, Oxford
June 2008Religion and Discrimination Law: An IntroductionInterfaith Legal Advisers Network Second Meeting , Cardiff
June 2008The Right to Discriminate? Religious Believers and the Law on Sexual OrientationReligion, Discrimination and Accommodation Workshop , Newcastle
September 2007Defining "Religion": A Socio-Legal ApproachReligion, Law, Culture Interdisciplinary Symposium , Lancaster
July 2007Drawing a Veil on Human Rights? Islamic Dress and English LawLegal Practice and Cultural Diversity Conference, London
July 2007Defining "Religion": A Socio-Legal ApproachTheory Faith Culture Conference, Cardiff
June 2007Church-State Relations in Europe: Towards a New Legal ModelReligion and Politics in the Construction of the European Union Conference , London School of Economics
April 2007Defining "Religion": A Socio-Legal ApproachBritish Sociological Association Annual Sociology Conference 2007 ‘Beliefs and Disenchantment’ Stream , East London
April 2007Defining "Religion": A Socio-Legal ApproachSocio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2007 ‘Law and Religion’ Stream , Canterbury
September 2006Religion and Morality: A Socio-Legal ApproachBritish Association for the Study of Religions Annual Conference, ‘The Ethical Dimension’, Bath Spa
May 2006Religious Identities in the European Media: A Legal PerspectiveMedia in the Enlarged Europe Conference , Luton
April 2006Religion, Society and Law: Towards A Multidisciplinary ApproachHumanities Graduate School, ‘Voice of Humanities Conference 2006’ , Cardiff
April 2006Religion and the Individual: A Socio-Legal PerspectiveBritish Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group 2006 Annual Conference, ‘Religion and the Individual’ , Manchester
















I am currently Co-Module Leader and teach on the undergraduate LLB modules on Criminal Law and Legal History:

Criminal Law

This is a compulsory first year module.  A characteristic of many societies is the enforcement of standards of behaviour through state regulated punishments. This module deals with what has to be proved against defendants in criminal trials in England and Wales before they can be subjected to such punishment. Whatever the crime with which defendants are charged, there are certain matters which, as a general rule, have to be proved. The module covers ‘general principles’ of criminal law, the constituent parts of specified offences and the operation of criminal law in context. A characteristic of this module is the way in which a critical feminist lens is applied to illuminate and critique the law.

Legal History

This is an optional module in the second and final year. This module examines the development of English Law from the Norman Conquest to the present day. It focuses on upon both the history of the legal system and of legal doctrines and ideas.  The main areas that are studied are constitutional history and the historical development of the legal system itself; the history of land law and the forms of action; the development of the English law of obligations into the two areas of tort and contract from their common origins in the actions of trespass and case; and the development of Legal History as a field of study, including different forms of Legal History such as Feminist Legal History.  Throughout, the legal developments will be related to political, economic, social and intellectual changes within England and Wales.


I am currently supervise three PhD students including two AHRC-funded PhD students under the DTP programme. I have served as the secondary supervisor for four PhD students.

Previous Teaching Experience and Administrative Roles

I previously taught and served as Module Leader for the undergraduate LLB module on Law and Religion and as Course Director for the LLM in Canon Law and as Module Leader for the LLM modules Conceptual Foundations and Historical Development of Canon Law; Doctrine, Liturgy and Rites in Canon Law; Government and Ministry in Canon Law; and The Interface of Canon Law and Civil Law. I have also previously taught on the Legal Foundations LLB module.

Previous administrative roles have included: Head of the Law Department (2016-2019); Senior Admissions Tutor for Law (2013-2016); Director of Year 1 Teaching (2011-12); Staff Member, Cardiff Law School Staff-Student Panel (2011-2012); Coordinator of Undergraduate Mooting Programme (2010-12); Acting Director, Centre for Law and Religion (2010-11); Admissions Tutor for the LLM in Canon Law (2010-11); Member, Cardiff Law School Research Committee (2010-2011); Member, Postgraduate Extenuating Circumstances committee (2010-11); Member, Cardiff Law School C&IT Committee (2009-12); and Modern Working Environment Champion (2009).

My research has four main directions:

Law and Religion

First, my research has focused upon the study of Law and Religion, working at Cardiff's Centre for Law and Religion. This has included exploring the emerging legal framework concerning religion examining how human rights, discrimination and criminal laws interact with religion. My work has also analysed how religion is defined legally and constitutional laws governing Church-State relations throughout Europe. My work has contended that the significant legal changes that have occurred in the twenty-first century means that Law and Religion now exists as ‎as an academic sub-discipline like Family Law or Sports Law. This was the focus of my book Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2011), the edited works Law and Religion: Critical Concepts in Law (Routledge, 2017) and Leading Works in Law and Religion. I am Managing Editor of the ICLARS Series on Law and Religion, published by Routledge.


Religion and Family Law

Second, the interaction between religion, law and the family has emerged as particular focus in my work. This has included research on the interaction between religion and marriage / divorce law particularly exploring the legal recognition of religious tribunals. Building upon the Social Cohesion and Civil Law empirical project funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme, my recent work has included an edited work on Religion and Legal Pluralism (Ashgate, 2015) within the interdisciplinary Religion and Society series and a range of publications that have sought to understand the place of religious tribunals using a range of theoretical approaches including Ayelet Shachar's work on Joint Governance, Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theory and Sharon Thompson's Feminist Relational Contract Theory. Recent work has sought to place the Sharia debate within the wider Family Law context and has argued for Family Law reform. I am editing with Dr Sharon Thompson the forthcoming edited collection, ‘Leading Works in Family Law’.


Interdisciplinary Approaches to Law

Third, my work has explored the relationship between the legal and sociological study of religion. This was the focus of my monograph Religion, Law and Society (Cambridge University Press, 2014) within the Cambridge Studies of Law and Society. This argued for increased collaboration between legal and sociological approaches to religion provided that the unique contributions of each discipline is preserved. Recent work has focused upon the merits and possibilities of interdisciplinary work generally in Law. This has included the edited work The Confluence of Law and Religion and publications on Law and Religion that focus on philosophical approaches and a forthcoming Handbook of the Interdisciplinary Study of Law and Religion which includes historical, sociological, political and theological perspectives. I am Series Editor of Leading Works in Law, published by Routledge. This book series will look at how particular legal sub-disciplines have developed by exploring the leading works that have shaped, developed and on occasions confined fields of study: Further details


Law and History

Fourth, my interest in interdisciplinary approaches to Law has resulted in research on relationship between Law and History. This has included the edited work Law and History: Critical Concepts in Law which includes an introductory essay 'Textual and Contextual Legal History' which explores how divisions within Legal History has resulted in the marginalisation of historical approaches in UK Law Schools. With Dr Sharon Thompson, I am the Co-Founder and Co-Coordinator of the Law and History Research Group. This is the home of a new book series, published by Routledge: Transforming Legal Histories. This aims to place the historical study of law at the heart of the law curriculum. It is designed to showcase scholarship which uses historical theory, approaches or methods to analyse law and legal change and is aimed, not exclusively at legal historians but at a general legal readership, exploring and expanding the historical dimension of key fields of legal scholarship. The series editors are Dr Lydia Hayes, Dr Katie Richards, Dr Sharon Thompson and I: Further details



2005 - 2010:   PhD funded by Cardiff Law School, James Pantyfedwyn Foundation and Sidney Perry Foundation.

April 2010 - May 2011:  Co-Investigator, ‘Social Cohesion and Civil Law: Marriage, Divorce and Religious Courts' project. Funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme with an award of £79,862.


Current supervision

Dani O'Connor

Research student