Claire Bessant

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Sharenting; Children's privacy; Family privacy; Domestic Abuse

Willing to speak to media

Personal profile


Dr Claire Bessant joined Northumbria University’s School of Law in 2002 having made the decision to move to academia from private practice where she worked as a solicitor specialising in family law. She has since published in the fields of family law, privacy law, information sharing and human rights, and has contributed to government and parliamentary consultations, on both domestic violence and online privacy.  Claire's PhD thesis integrated study of both family and information rights law, asking 'Do parents believe that the family should be afforded privacy, and if so, to what extent do parents believe the law affords effective protection to family privacy, particularly family information privacy.'  Claire is currently working on a monograph Family Privacy, Law and Ideology, to be published by Routledge, which will build upon her PhD research.

Claire is joint Managing Editor of the open-access Journal of Law, Technology and Trust. At Northumbria, she is a member of both the Gender, Sexuality and Law Research Interest Group and the Family Justice Research Interest Group. Claire is also a member of the Association of Internet Researchers, the International Society of Family Law and the Society of Legal Scholars.

Claire’s teaching covers a variety of areas including research skills and information law (including data protection, access to environmental information and inter-agency information sharing for child protection purposes).  Claire has also taught on the undergraduate and postgraduate Childcare Law and Family Law modules and on the undergraduate distance learning English Legal Systems module.

Claire has undertaken a number of administrative roles whilst at Northumbria, including Programme Director, Faculty Director of Programme Approvals and Review, Director of Education for Postgraduate Law Programmes and most recently Director of Education for Law. 

Claire is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a reviewer for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and has sat as an expert member on several panels considering the validation of a number of  law-related programmes at other institutions .

Research interests

Claire’s most recent research is focused upon privacy and the protection of personal and family information.

Claire is particularly interested in the concept of family privacy and the potential conflict between family privacy and children’s rights. Family privacy is here understood as an ideology which protects the family from the intervention of state and society and enables the family (notably parents) to take decisions about the family and children’s upbringing. Claire's doctoral thesis titled 'Parental Views about the Importance of Family Privacy and its Protection in English Law was examined by Professor Jonathan Herring, Exeter College, Oxford and Professor Dawn Watkins, Leicester, and used empirical methods to explore parents’ understanding of family privacy and the laws protecting such privacy.  The thesis proposes a new framework for understanding the relationship between family, state and society and a new definition of family privacy which reflects both how parents understand the term and jurisprudential views on the family and how it should be protected from state and society.

Claire's recent research also explores the concept of 'sharenting' (a term used when parents share information about their children online). In 2018 she published her analysis of the legal remedies afforded to children in the UK whose information is shared online by their parents . She has more recently been working with an international, interdisciplinary team of academics to develop further understanding of the sharenting phenomenon, the benefits that sharenting brings and the risks that it poses, with a view to identifying further avenues for research and developing policy recommendations.

Claire has recently completed work as co-investigator for the Observatory for the Monitoring for Data-Driven Approaches to Covid-19 (OMDDAC) project.   OMDDAC is a collaboration between Northumbria University & the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), funded by AHRC, which researches data-driven approaches to Covid-19, and is focused upon the legal, ethical, policy and operational challenges posed by data-driven approaches during the pandemic.  Claire led on OMDDAC's research with young people which asked 'Are young people aware of how data (including their own personal data) has been used during the pandemic and if so, what views do they hold about its use?'

Claire is currently undertaking a research project exploring the parental role as privacy steward in the context of schools requests to use children's images and biometric information.

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 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Law, PhD, Parental views about the importance of family privacy and its protection in English Law, University of Leicester

30 Sept 201320 May 2021

Award Date: 20 May 2021

Academic Studies in Education, MA, MA Academic Practice


Award Date: 1 Nov 2011

Law, LLM, LLM Advanced Legal Practice


Award Date: 1 Jul 2002

Law, LLB (Hons), LLB (Hons) Law with French

1 Sept 199030 Jun 1994

Award Date: 1 Jul 1994


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