School of Law

James Greenwood-Reeves

MSc Security, Conflict and Justice | 2017 - 2018

Photo of James Greenwood-Reeves

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background (including previous study) ?

I went to a comprehensive school, before studying my undergraduate Law degree at Queens’ College, Cambridge. I spent four years as a Wills and Probate specialist before deciding to return to academia.

What motivated you to undertake postgraduate study and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

Legal practice no longer appealed to me – especially such dry subjects as inheritance tax and trusts! I wanted to research something new, relevant and current, and found that Leeds benefits from a wealth of resources and experts across numerous interesting socio-legal areas.

What is it that makes you passionate about this area of study?

What is security for? Is it to defend the state, or to protect individuals? What costs do we accept to our liberty, in order to feel a little safer – and from what risks? Not a week passes without some incidence of terror, mass shooting, famine, migration crisis or a similar catastrophe. How law and society respond to these crises shapes who we are as a people. It is tremendously relevant, and utterly fascinating. 

Please tell us about your research topic…

My intended research topic is to examine the differences – or alleged differences – between “terrorism” and “violent protest.” What marks an act, or an individual, as falling into the former category? Is it ideology? The level of threat? A political label? And why must “violent protest” be afforded fewer legal protections than “peaceful” protest or civil disobedience?

How has your experience been at the University so far?

I have found the staff to be superlatively lovely: excellent teaching, from lecturers who genuinely want to see us shine. The facilities are excellent, and the Union is abundant with little places to eat, socialise and toast to a successful day’s studies!

What would you say about the learning and research facilities in the School and at the University in general?

I have yet to find fault. The libraries are well-stocked and purpose-built; there are ample teaching spaces; and the online support for students means that I have little difficulty finding the materials I need.

How would you describe the research environment in the School? What would you say about the support you receive?

Being supervised by experts, at the coal-face of their subject, is a great advantage. The Law School isn’t just a nice building: there is a wealth of knowledge there, from a body of researchers who are happy to share their experiences and advice. 

What do you like to do outside of studying?

Outside of my studies, I largely read and write terrible poetry and watch nonsense on Netflix. I am a typical student in that respect, I suppose! Leeds also has plenty of wonderful bars and restaurants where I can meet up with my friends.

What do you think of Leeds as a city?

It really is the jewel of the north. I will never exhaust the discoveries to be made in the city centre. The outlying villages such as Headingley are wonderful, as well.

What would you say to someone considering a research degree in the School?

Feel free to ask one of the current researchers or lecturers about your area of interest, and see what advice they could give. Take the opportunity to come and visit, and see for yourself what the School and Leeds more generally are like.

What are your plans once you have completed your studies?

I want to continue research and teaching, ideally with the School. It seems a great place to work, and I rather doubt we will run out of terrorism by the time I finish.

Are there any other comments you would like to make?

I am glad I made the decision to leave legal practice, however lucrative or sensible it may seem, so that I could come to a place where the main priority is fostering my curiosity in pursuit of an academic challenge. It’s the dream.

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