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Our research in philosophy covers a range of specialisms ranging from moral philosophy and values, metaphysics and the philosophy of science to global justice, research ethics and the philosophy of mental health.

There is a long history of philosophical research at the University, pre-dating the foundation of our Centre for Professional Ethics which is one of the oldest research-only ethics centres in Europe.

Who we are:

  • A small group of innovative philosophy researchers with a large international reach
  • We have a substantial research income of £2.3million in the 2021 REF period
  • Our expertise is in applied philosophy and interdisciplinary philosophy-based research
  • Our international impact includes the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings which has been adopted by the European Commission as a mandatory reference document for research funded under the Horizon 2020 programme. This has been followed by other funders and adopters.

Our work is often applied and inter-disciplinary, focussing on contemporary issues in, for example, global justice, emerging technologies, and mental healthcare but rooted in mainstream research traditions in philosophy.

Our research cuts across many faculties and schools, covering these main areas:


The emphasis on an international dimension and an interdisciplinary approach to philosophy is exemplified by Schroeder’s and Chatfield’s ground-breaking work on international justice which analyses global institutional frameworks such as the intellectual property rights system and its impact on health. This research is focused on World Health Organization priorities (public health and access to medicines for the poor) and United Nations priorities (UN Convention on Biodiversity benefit sharing with vulnerable populations; UNESCO efforts on promoting responsible research and innovation) and has led to the impact described in our two impact case studies which combine philosophical and ethical analysis with an interdisciplinary and uniquely collaborative approach.

Launched in 2018, the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (GCC), the first of its kind, prohibits carrying out research in lower-income countries which would be deemed illegal or unethical in the host country. It was developed over four years by TRUST, an international collaborative EU-funded project, and led by Professor Doris Schroeder. Its authors include representatives from global organisations including UNESCO and the Wellcome Trust. Soon after its launch in the European Parliament, the Code was adopted by the European Commission (as a mandatory reference document for research funded under the Horizon 2020 programme) and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. Since then, the University of Cape Town, the University of Central Lancashire, the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the UK Abaseen Foundation and the Swiss Global Values Alliance adopted the code in addition to individual projects.

The 2017 the San Code of Research Ethics was drafted in collaboration with the San People of South Africa through a lengthy process of community engagement which involved preliminary capacity building workshops as well three workshops to arrive at the code. In 2019, a benefit sharing agreement was signed that rewards the San TK holders for their contribution to the commercial Rooibos industry. As a result, an estimated ZAR7.5million (approx. £400,000) will be paid into the Andries Steenkamp benefit sharing trust to be distributed to the San community using the values of the San Code. Professor Schroeder’s and her team’s involvement in these events is described in one of her two impact case studies.