urban governance, socio-legal studies, cities, infrastructure, transport, planning law, legal geography
Fields of Research (FoR)Law and society and socio-legal research, Urban and regional planning, Urban geography, Environmental law, Transport geography
Amelia Thorpe is Associate Professor and Director of Postgraduate Studies in Law. Amelia works in planning, property and environmental law, focusing on mobility and urban governance. Her approach is sociolegal and interdisciplinary, drawing on professional experience in planning and urban development and in public interest environmental law. Amelia has a particular interest in the governance of streets and is currently leading research on
Amelia Thorpe is Associate Professor and Director of Postgraduate Studies in Law. Amelia works in planning, property and environmental law, focusing on mobility and urban governance. Her approach is sociolegal and interdisciplinary, drawing on professional experience in planning and urban development and in public interest environmental law. Amelia has a particular interest in the governance of streets and is currently leading research on food delivery cyclists funded by the Office of Road Safety.
Amelia is the author of Owning the Street: The Everyday Life of Property (MIT Press, 2020) and articles in journals including Journal of Law & Society, Law & Society Review, Social & Legal Studies, Planning Theory & Practice and Urban Studies. Her essays and commentary have appeared in The Conversation, Griffith Review, The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald, among other venues. Some of Amelia’s publications can be downloaded freely at: http://ssrn.com/author=2832516. Reviews of Owning the Street can be found in Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence; Contemporary Sociology; Emotion, Space & Society; Journal of Sociology; Landscape Journal; Law & Social Inquiry; Legalities; and Planning Theory.
Amelia has held fellowships and visiting appointments at UC Berkeley, McGill and the Centre for Canadian Architecture, and her research has been funded by organisations including the Office of Road Safety, Landcom/Urban Growth NSW, and the Reliable, Affordable, Clean Energy for 2030 CRC. She is co-editor of Australian Planner, the journal of record for the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), and serves on the editorial board of Environmental & Planning Law Journal. Amelia also serves on the Board of Shelter NSW and on numerous planning and design review panels, including the Sydney Eastern City District Planning Panel, and the Sydney, Lismore and Fairfield Local Planning Panels. Amelia was founding co-chair of the PIA NSW Women in Planning Network, leading the development of Australia’s first national gender equity policy for the planning profession. She has served on numerous bodies focused on inclusion and diversity at UNSW, including as co-chair of the UNSW Women in Research Network, chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Law and Deputy Academic Lead of the Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team.
Amelia joined UNSW Law in 2012, having worked previously as a director at the Environmental Defender’s Office, Australia’s largest and oldest public interest environmental law organisation. She led the EDO’s legal outreach programs, including indigenous and community engagement in NSW and a capacity-building program for environmental law in the Pacific region, working primarily on climate change at national and international levels.
Before Law Amelia studied Architecture and City Policy, and worked for the planning, transport and housing departments in Western Australia. This included the award-winning TravelSmart and Liveable Neighbourhoods programs, as well as New Metro Rail, then the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the state, and Dialogue with the City, a deliberative planning process involving more than 1,000 people. A particular interest in the policy and regulatory aspects of urban development led her to study law. Amelia completed law degrees at the University of Oxford and at Harvard Law School and, later, a PhD at ANU.
Amelia has three young children and has worked part time throughout her academic career.
'Improving Safety for Bicycle Delivery Cyclists', Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Road Safety Innovation Fund Round 2, 2021-2023 (with Soufiane Boufous and Marilyn Johnson), $227,450
‘Electric Vehicle and Grid - Assessment Opportunity’, Reliable, Affordable, Clean Energy for 2030 Collaborative Research Centre, 2020 (with R Dargaville, D Kuch, l Meegahapola, L McIntosh, P Newman, P Paevere, CSIRO and 16 industry partners) $526,000
'Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure – Risks and Opportunities in Urban and Electricity System Planning' Digital Grid Futures Institute, 2020, $25,000 (with Declan Kuch and Nofar Sheffi)
'Paint, posts and productive polities: (re)constructing city-citizen relationships in the street', Centre for Canadian Architecture, Research Fellowship, 2020 (approx. $20,000) (deferred due to Covid-19)
‘Creating the City we Want: Tackling the Barriers to Housing Diversity in NSW’, Collaborative Research Project, Landcom University Roundtable, 2018-2020, $153,510 (with Gerard Reinmuth, Brooke Jackson, Harry Scheule and Adrian Lee, UTS, and Louise Crabtree and Neil Perry, WSU)
‘Urban renewal and the privatisation of public space: implications for democracy and equity’, Cross-Faculty Research Grant, 2018, $9,853 (with Luke McNamara, Laura Crommelin, Alyce McGovern, Chris Martin, Nofar Sheffi and Philip Wadds)
‘6th Fordham International and Comparative Urban Law Conference’ Law Workshop Support Scheme, 2018, $3,750 (with Cathy Sherry)
'Planning, Parking and the Practice of Property', UNSW Law Research Fellowship, 2018 (in-kind, $25,000 equivalent)
‘Constituting Cities: Multi-disciplinary perspectives on the governance of urban spaces’ Law Workshop Support Scheme, 2017, $8,000 (with Luke McNamara)
‘Co-Producing Multi-Media Resources for Environmental Law’, UNSW Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant, 2014, $25,000 (with Cameron Holley)
‘Reducing Corruption Risks in Climate Change’, United Nations Development Programme, 2010, US$24,000
‘Negotiation Training for Multilateral Environmental Agreements’, Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, 2010, US$5,000
BEnvDes BArch (Hons) UWA, BPolSt (City Policy) (Hons) Murdoch, BA (Jurisprudence) (Hons) Oxford, LLM, Harvard, PhD, ANU
Australian Legal Research Awards, Honourable mention (book award), 2022
Socio Legal Studies Association (UK), History and Theory Prize, shortlisted, 2022
Centre for Canadian Architecture, Visting Fellowship, 2020 (not taken due to Covid)
People's Choice Award, UNSW Presidents Awards, 2017 (WiRN Executive Committee)
Legal Innovation Index (winner, individual category), 2016
Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards, Academic of the Year (finalist), 2016
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (early career), 2014
Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society prize, 2014
Distinguished Environmental Law Education Award (junior category), IUCN Academy, 2014
Salzburg Global Fellow, 2013
Future Thought Leader, HC Coombs Policy Forum, Australian National University, 2012
Saltonstall Scholarship, Harvard Law School, 2006
My Research Supervision
Alice Palithorpe, PhD, climate-related internal displacement in Australia (with Jane McAdam)
Tomas Alcaron, PhD, lawyers and the Australian climate movement (with Marc de Leeuw and Bronwen Morgan)
Anna Talbot, PhD, strategic litigation, climate change and international displacement (with Jane McAdam)
Jodie Hampson, PhD, co-operative platform economies (with Bronwen Morgan and Selena Griffith)
Oxana Wolfson, PhD, governance of water infrastructure (with Fleur Johns and Weihuan Zhou)
Yutong Wang, MPH, food delivery cycling and the media (external supervisor for the University of Sydney, with James Kite). Completed 2021.
Costa Avgoustinos, PhD, climate change and constitutional law (with Ben Golder and Gabrielle Appleby). Completed 2020.
Memberships and professional affiliations
Research network on Utopian Legalities, Radical Governance and Prefigurative Politics
Women in Planning Network, PIA NSW
City of Sydney, Local Planning Panel
Planning Institute of Australia
Association of Law, Property and Society
International Academic Association of Planning, Law and Property Rights
Institute of Australian Geographers, Legal geography study group
Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society
IUCN Commission on Environmental Law
New York Bar, attorney
Australian Planner, Editorial Board member, 2014-2021, Co-editor, 2022 -
Journal of Law and Society, Guest Editor (with Bronwen Morgan), Spring 2018
Environmental and Planning Law Journal, Editorial Board member, 2015 -
Harvard Environmental Law Review, Casenote Editor, 2006 - 2007
Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, Associate Editor, 2005 - 2006
Amelia's teaching has been recognized with a Distinguished Environmental Law Education Award from the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, a UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, and a Lexis Nexis Legal Innovation Award.
Cities, Planning, Law and Justice (LAWS3073)
Land and Environment Court Clinic (LAWS3302)
Land Law (LAWS2383)
Development and Planning Law (LAWS8071)
Food Law (LAWS3216)
Principles of Private Law (LAWS1150)
Climate Law (LAWS8066)
The Law Building
University of New South Wales
UNSW Kensington Campus
Sydney NSW 2052
(Access via Gate 2 off High Street)