Sarah Ramshaw

Sarah Ramshaw
Professor, Director of Cultural, Social and Political Thought (CSPT)
Faculty of Law

BA (Hons) – U of T, LLB – UBC, LLM – UBC, PhD – U of London (Birkbeck), PGCHET – QUB

Area of expertise

Family law, human rights, contracts, arts-based approaches to law, law and the humanities, improvisation and the law, legal theory/jurisprudence.


Sara Ramshaw joined the University of Victoria Faculty of Law as an Associate Professor in 2017, and was made Full Professor in 2021. This appointment followed previous positions at the University of Exeter (England) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) (Northern Ireland). After receiving her B.A. (Hons) from the University of Toronto, Sara obtained both a LLB and a LLM from the University of British Columbia. She then clerked at the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2000. Sara worked for the Ministry of the Attorney General at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in Toronto before commencing postgraduate studies at the University of London (Birkbeck College) in England.

Sara’s doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the legal regulation of jazz musicians in New York City (1940-1967) through the lens of poststructural theory informed by feminism, critical race theory and critical improvisation studies. During the 2008-9 academic year, Sara was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) project in Montreal. Her monograph, Justice as Improvisation: The Law of the Extempore, published by Routledge in 2013, was nominated for the 2014 Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Hart Book Prize. 

More recently, Sara was the principal investigator of a large UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project, entitled Into the Key of Law: Transposing Musical Improvisation. The Case of Child Protection in Northern Ireland. Sara has published widely in numerous international journals and given invited talks throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. She has also held Visiting Fellow/Research Associate positions at the Westminster Law and Theory Lab (Westminster Law School, London, England), the International Institute of Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) (Guelph, Canada), the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) (Queen’s University Belfast), the Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH) (Melbourne Law School) and the Center for Globalization and Cultural Studies (University of Manitoba).

Sara sits on the editorial boards of Law & Critique, and Counterpress (UK). She is a former editorial board member of the Australian Feminist Law Journal (AFLJ)Feminist Legal Studies and the ICASP Website. Sara co-leads the Translating Improvisation Research Group(QUB) and is a member of Science, Culture and the Law at Exeter (SCuLE, UK), the AHRC Legal Materiality Research Network (UK), the Listening Network: Cultures of Listening in Research and Practice (Open University, UK), as well as Utopian Legalities, Prefigurative Politics and Radical Governance Group (Australia) and the Sensory Studies Research Directory. Sara is also a former member of the AHRC Peer Review College (UK)

Sara would welcome students wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in the following areas: arts-based approaches to law; law and the humanities; family law; feminist/intersectional legal theory; improvisation and the law; music and the law; human rights; critical legal studies; critical contract law; and poststructural legal theory.