Dr Elaine Webster



Personal statement

I joined the Law School in January 2008. I teach public law and human rights 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 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. 


Has expertise in:

    • European human rights law
    • The prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
    • Human dignity in human rights law
    • Human dignity and human rights education
    • Human rights protection in Scotland and the UK


Student nurses' perceptions of dignity in the care of older people
Macaden Leah, G. Kyle Richard , Medford Wayne , Blundell Julie, Munoz Sarah-Anne, Webster Elaine
British Journal of Nursing Vol 26, pp. 274-280, (2017)
Revealing student nurses' perceptions of human dignity through curriculum co-design
Munoz Sarah-Anne, Macaden Leah, Kyle Richard, Webster Elaine
Social Science and Medicine Vol 174, pp. 1-8, (2017)
Interpretation of the prohibition of torture : making sense of 'dignity' talk
Webster Elaine
Human Rights Review Vol 17, pp. 371-390, (2016)
Teaching human rights? 'All hell will break loose!'
Cassidy Claire, Brunner Richard, Webster Elaine
Education, Citizenship and Social Justice Vol 9, pp. 19-33, (2014)
Medical-related expulsion and interpretation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Webster Elaine
Inter-American and European Human Rights Journal Vol 6, pp. 36, (2013)
From interpretive imagination to contingency in law : an argument for moving beyond text
Webster Elaine
The Arts and the Legal AcademyEmerging Legal Learning, (2012)

more publications


I teach on the Public Law II and Human Rights Law classes on the LLB ordinary degree and coordinate Human Rights Law in Theory and Practice at Honours level. I am also course coordinator for Human Rights Protection in the UK on the LLM in Human Rights Law. 

Research interests

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 am currently preparing 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.

Professional activities

Realizing International Human Rights: Scotland on the Global Stage
Realizing International Human Rights: Scotland on the Global Stage
KU Leuven, Belgium
Visiting researcher

more professional activities


Understanding Human Dignity in European Human Rights Interpretation
Webster, Elaine (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Apr-2015 - 30-Apr-2016
Human Dignity Narratives and Nurse Education: Promoting Dignity within the Co-produced Care of Older Adults
Webster, Elaine (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2013 - 30-Dec-2014
Human Rights Education and the Curriculum for Excellence
Cassidy, Claire (Co-investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Jan-2011
Mapping Human Rights Treaties
Webster, Elaine (Principal Investigator)
Period 18-Oct-2010 - 31-Dec-2010

more projects