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Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Privacy Law, Data Protection, Data Management, Information Rights, Freedom of Information Act, Surveillance, E-Democracy,  Internet Law,  Media Law


PhD, MSc, LLM, LLB, PG Cert. Professional Legal Studies (Solicitor)

PG Dip. Higher Education Practice & Research, Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy.


Dr Karen Mc Cullagh is a non-practising Solicitor, having qualified and practised Law in Northern Ireland before entering academia. Whilst undertaking postgraduate studies, Karen held a Lectureship at the University of Salford and was employed as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Manchester and a Research Assistant at Queen’s University, Belfast.  

Karen holds both a PhD and an MSc in Social Research Methods & Statistics from the University of Manchester. She also holds an LLM in Computers & Law, an LLB (Hons) in Law and PG Cert. in Professional Legal Studies (Solicitor) from Queen’s University, Belfast. 

Karen’s research specialism is information rights: both the commercial and fundamental rights aspects of privacy and data protection and Freedom of Information, as an aspect of public law.

Karen won a UEA Students' Union Transforming Education Award (Advisor of the Year) in 2017-18, received a UEA Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012-2013, and was recognised as a UEA Media Star 2017-18. 



Key Research Interests

Karen’s research specialism is information rights: both the commercial and fundamental rights aspects of privacy and data protection and Freedom of Information, as an aspect of public law. Her research is multidisciplinary in nature; it explores the legal and policy implications of online behaviours and emerging technologies, with a particular focus on privacy and data protection in the context of the creative, digital, and sharing sectors of the UK's economy. 

Her PhD (sponsored by the ESRC and UK Information Commissioners Office) examined the concept of ‘private’ data in light of social media communications. 

Karen is a member of the Executive Committee of BILETA (British & Irish Law, Education & Technology Association).  She is the IT editor for the European Journal of Current Legal Interests (EJoCLI) and a reviewer for a number of journals, including: Script-ed, the European Journal of Law & Technology (EJLT) and the International Review of Law Computers and Technology.

Karen is interested in supervising research students in all areas of privacy and data protection, freedom of information, and other legal aspects of information technology, such as the use of social media technologies to promote e-democracy and freedom of expression. 


Completed Research Students

Warut Songsujaritkul, (PhD 2018/19), "Rethinking Media Plurality Regulation: Promoting Exposure Diversity and Controlling the Power of New Online Selection Intermediaries."  

Laura Caulton, (PhD, 2020), “Communications offences and social media: Evidencing a hybrid approach to dealing with low-level criminal cyber speech from perpetration to conviction.”


Teaching Interests

Karen is the module organiser for Internet Law & Governance and The Law of E-Commerce modules and teaches on the Protection of Privacy & Reputation module on the LLM Programmes: Media Law Policy & Practice and IP & IT Law. She also teaches on the Internet Law undergraduate module. Karen has in the past  contributed to the 'Global Media and Communications Law' module as part of the University's International Summer School programmes, and taught on the UG Media Law and Constitutional & Administrative Law modules.

Teaching Excellence 

Karen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Karen won a UEA Students' Union Transforming Education Award in 2017-18, under the category: Advisor of the Year Award. Students who nominated her commented that she was “very helpful and informative in guiding students;” and had “been very helpful and supportive throughout my academic year. She made me feel welcome even though I am an International student. When I first enrolled in UEA, she taught me how to adapt to the different culture,” as well as “I do believe that my experience of University is better because of her and she can help me with anything.”   Karen was also nominated for a Student Law Society award in the category: ‘Lecturer who makes me want to attend a 9am lecture!,’ in the academic year 2015-16.  Karen received a UEA Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012-2013. The award panel praised her ‘extremely innovative approach to teaching, in particular the powerful effect of using multiple media approaches for teaching, which allow her to bring a highly personal approach to large class teaching, and noted that her feedback materials were models of clarity.’ They also commended her ‘impressive commitment to pastoral support and praised her exceptional and inspirational teaching.’ She was previously nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Salford in 2008 and 2011.  

Teaching Pedagogy

Karen conducted a study on the use of ‘clicker quizzes’ to improve interaction and engagement in Lectures and as a formative assessment tool in 2011. She presented the findings of the clicker study at the 6th annual Education in a Changing Environment Conference where the paper was shortlisted for a prize. She also disseminated the findings of the action study in the journal: Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.  Karen conducted a pilot study on the use of films and documentaries to teach Internet law during the academic year 2016-17.  She disseminated the findings of her study in three different ways: a poster at the University’s Learning & Teaching Conference in May 2017 and at the BILETA conference 2018, and article in the University’s Learning Highlights Magazine (Spring edition).  

She has also contributed as executive member of BILETA to the development of a Lecture Recording Policy, and to the development of JISC's National Centre for AI development of a report  A Pathway to responsible, ethical AI, and contributed to the development of UEA's Lecture Capture Policy. 

Administrative Posts

MAHEP Evaluative Conversation Assessor (2019-)

Course Director, LLM Media Law Policy & Practice (2016-20)

Member of PG Teaching & Learning Committee (2016-20)

Member of UG Teaching & Learning Committee (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15)

Member of Staff Student Liaison Committee (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16)

Deputy Senior Adviser (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16)

Personal Adviser (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16)

Year One Co-ordinator (2012-13) 

Professional Activities

  • Invited expert, to give oral evidence to the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee, Scottish Parliament on the  Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, 3rd October 2019.
  • Invited expert, UKAN: Anonymisation & Privacy Expert Community Workshop, 29th June 2018.
  • Co-hosted with Dr Olivia Tambou (University Paris Dauphine) an  E-Conference on National Adaptations to the GDPR on Blogdroiteuropéen (4th-20th June 2018)

  • Invited expert, UKAN: The Anonymisation Decision-making Framework: User Community Workshop, 26th April 2018.
  • Invited expert, ESRC and ICO Workshop 2: on Managing social science research under GDPR, London, 18th April 2018.
  • Invited Speaker, National Association of Data Protection Officers (NADPO), London, 27th March 2018.
  • Invited expert, ESRC and ICO Workshop 1: on Managing social science research under GDPR, Manchester, 14th March 2018.
  • Invited workshop participant, My healthy future: adolescent health, PHG Foundation, Cambridge, 12th March 2018. 
  • Invited expert, UKAN, Legal Expert Group, 5th March 2018.
  • Author of collaborative response (sponsored by BILETA) to response to Department of Media, Culture & Sports DCMS Call for views on the General Data Protection Regulation derogations, May 2017.
  • Invited Panellist, Data Protection After Brexit, Computers, Privacy & Data Protection 10th Annual Conference, Brussels, 25-27 January 2017

  • Invited Speaker, Brexit: Data Protection Implications for the Digital Technology Sector, at CIPPM Annual Symposium, Bournemouth University, 3rd November 2016

  • Guest Editor of International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, (2015) Vol 29, Iss. 1, special edition containing papers presented at the 29th Annual BILETA Conference

  • Co-editor (with Dr Daithí Mac Síthigh) of Scripted Journal, Vol. 11, Iss. 3, (2014) special edition containing papers presented at the 29th Annual BILETA conference. 

  • Host and Organiser of 29th Annual BILETA Conference (14-16th April 2014) Hosted at UEA, Norwich

  • Host and Co-Organiser (with Prof Lilian Edwards) of Gikii VII Conference (17-18th Sept 2012) Hosted at UEA London

  • Invited plenary speaker: “Stead - a reflection on the development of investigative journalism in the UK” (16-17th April 2012) WT Stead Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary, British Library Conference Centre, London

  • Lead author of collaborative response to EU Commission on Public Consultation on Cloud Computing. (2011) Funded by the Information Technology Think Tank, which is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and led by the SCRIPT/AHRC Centre for Research and Intellectual Property and Technology, University of Edinburgh

External Activities


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester

… → 2012

Master of Science, University of Manchester

… → 2004

Media Expertise

  • Law
  • Technology


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or