Professor Michael Gunn

Job Title and Responsibilities

I am the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University and I aim to help my colleagues and the institution address the challenges of the future and pick up the opportunities available for the benefit of students who invest their education and career aspirations in us.

Each member of the Executive reports to me and we meet as a team on a weekly basis.

My main areas of activity currently are: working on the new University Plan (to be agreed by the Board of Governors in the autumn); developing the new fees strategy; overseeing the portfolio review (including the What is a Staffordshire Graduate Project), development of the new learning, teaching and assessment strategy and the business planning process review; enhancing the work with the Students' Union and on hearing the student voice; working with colleagues on such key areas of work as equality and diversity, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility; and representing the University externally with a range of stakeholders including our present and future students, SURF partners, local and national politicans, the business community, and the HE community (including the West Midlands Universities group, million+ and Universities UK).

I am a member of the Board of Governors and sit on various of its committees and I chair Academic Board.

About Me

I went to Manchester University to read Law in 1974. After graduation, I worked for the National Health Service as a national administrative trainee for a year before taking up the post of Lecturer in Law at the University of Nottingham in 1978. I spent nearly 15 years there teaching and researching, as well as being involved in the running of the Department.

I moved from Nottingham to head Westminster Law School in 1993 and from there to a research professorship in mental health law at De Montfort University in 1997. In 1999, I took up the post of Head of the Department of Academic Legal Studies at Nottingham Trent University and finished my time at NTU as Dean of Nottingham Law School.

Prior to joining Staffordshire University, I was a Pro Vice Chancellor at Derby University with a range of leadership responsibilities including research and scholarship, further education at Buxton, all the Faculties at one time or another, quality assurance and enhancement for most of the time, and, successively, for Learning and Information Services and Student Support and Information Services.

My wife, who I met at Nottingham University, is a professor of law, a former pro vice chancellor and dean and, currently, heads the academies sponsorship unit. We have two daughters of whom I am very proud.


LL.B. (University of Manchester)

Professional Memberships and Activities

Chair, million+

Member, Universities UK

Member, Universities West Midlands

Council Member, Chamber of Commerce

Member, Society of Legal Scholars

Member, Socio-Legal Studies Association

Member of research group Developmental Psychiatry Section, University of Cambridge.


My expertise in law is in my research areas, primarily, the law of decision-making, now covered by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. I also have expertise in mental health law that includes having been a member of the then Mental Health Act Commission (1991-9).

I have supervised Ph.D. students, particularly in mental capacity law and human rights law. I have taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Research Interests

My research lies in mental health law and in the law of decision-making capacity. I remain involved in research in the latter area, particularly by my membership of a research group based in the Developmental Psychiatry Section at the University of Cambridge under the leadership of Professor Tony Holland. A current project is on the implications and workings of the deprivation of liberty safeguards introduced recently into the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which are concerned with circumstances where some do not have decision-making capacity, or is a resident in a hospital (or elsewhere) and is regarded as being deprived of their liberty without the formalities of admission under the Mental Health Act. In the past, I have worked on what is decision-making capacity, how to identify it in practice and, separately, on sexuality and sexual abuse and people with learning disabilities.

Selected Publications

Fistein, E., Holland, A.J., Clare, I.C.H. and Gunn, M.J., "A comparison of mental health legislation from diverse Commonwealth jurisdictions" (2009) 32  International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 147-155

Gunn, M.J. and Wheat, K., "General principles of law relating to people with mental disorder" in Gelder, M.G., Andreasen, N.C., Lopez-Ibor, J.J. & Geddes, J.R., New Oxford textbook of Psychiatry (2009, 2nd ed), pp. 1895-1907

Gunn, M.J., "Hospital treatment for incapacitated adults: Re P" [2009] Medical Law Review 275-281

Dunn, M.C., Clare, I.C.H., Holland, A.J. and Gunn, M.J., "Constructing and reconstructing 'best interests': An interpretative examination of substitue decision-making under the Mental Capacity Act 2005" (2007) 29 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 117-133

Formerly, co-author of Smith, Bailey and Gunn on the English Legal System and a contributing author to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice (1991-2006)