Professor Roy Partain

Professor Roy Partain
Professor Roy Partain

Professor Roy Partain

PhD in Law (Erasmus University), JD (Vanderbilt University), FLAS Fellowship, MSc Econ (UNC Chapel Hill), MSc Econ (GA Tech), BSc Econ (GA Tech), Member of State Bar of Texas

Personal Chair

Accepting PhDs




Roy Andrew Partain is a Chair Professor at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Law.

His research focuses on mathematical models of legal rules and institutions, especially as applied to matters of sustainable development and enhancing the functioning of democratic institutions.

At the University of Aberdeen, he routinely lectures on mathematical models of law, comparative private and public law, and on international environmental law.

Professor Partain has created several original programs for our School of Law:

  • He created the LLB with Computing Science, the first in the UK.
  • He also launched the LLM in Business Law & Sustainable Development, the first to focus on sustainable development for commercially focused lawyers.
  • He is now re-launching Aberdeen’s Space Law program.

His published research has focused on theory of the anticommons, on the theoretical models of climate change avoidance and mitigation (aka Green Paradox Theory), on the foundations of Environmental Law & Economics, on offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS), and on AI’s threat to law and social justice.

Originally trained in economics at GA Tech and UNC-CH (Chapel Hill), and a former banker at Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt, it was during his FLAS Fellowship in Korea that he learned of the centrality of law to the issues of economic development and of sustainable development. He retrained as a lawyer at Vanderbilt University’s Law School, earning his JD, and then graduated with his PhD in Law from Erasmus University in Rotterdam (Netherlands).

Prior to his academic appointment at Aberdeen, he was a law professor in Seoul, South Korea, a professor of economics in Daegu, South Korea, and he also served as corporate counsel for upstream affairs at both ExxonMobil and at Chevron Corporation.


Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Professor Partain serves the School of Law:

  • Director of the Postgraduate Research Program, overseeing all PhD in Law and LLM by Research students
  • Director of Internationalization and Strategic Partnerships for the School of Law
  • Previously:
    • he served as an Academic Line Manager, similar in role to an Associate Dean of Faculty
    • he served as Director of the Research Centre for Commercial Law

Professor Partain is a member of:

  • Aberdeen University Center for Energy Law (AUCEL), supporting research in emerging energy technologies and in strategic pathways for successful sustainable development
  • Research Centre for Constitutional and Public Law (CCCPIL), supporting research into formal models of public law and public international law
  • Research Committee for Space Law


External Memberships

Professor Partain is currently serving as a Visiting Fellow at the British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

He has been a residential visiting professor or otherwise delivered courses or seminars and remains affiliated with Hiroshima University, Kobe University, Soongsil University, Stetson University College of Law, and at Wuhan University.

He is a member of the Research School Ius Commune, officially accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, wherein he is on the Committee for Transnational Environmental Law. The Ius Commune Research School examines the (im)possibility of harmonization or unification of the rules of law at international and European level.

Professor Partain is actively affiliated with the European Doctorate in Law & Economics at Erasmus University of Rotterdam, participating in a variety of their postgraduate training events.

Professor Partain is a Member of the State Bar of Texas.



Research Overview

Recent Projects Include:

  • Recognizing the role of 'mobility' within legal pluralism and how that can enhance our ability to preserve international human rights;
  • International frameworks to ensure corporations are responsible/liable for the their public statements  on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, especially with regards to their communications to shareholders, governmental authorities, and international NGOs;
  • Development and critique of international energy policies to prevent cross-border carbon leakages and other 'green paradoxes';
  • Investigating how implementation of multi-national free trade agreements affect domestic environmental legislation;
  • Revealing how the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification could be accellerated by recent technological breakthroughs in offshore hydrate resources;
  • Developing international legal frameworks to enable carbon storage to be undertaken at the least risk possible, to better prevent global climate change;
  • Developing international legal frameworks to prevent transboundary environmental harms from the extraction of offshore methane hydrates;
  • Using international and comparative law to create a more functional and equitable legal definition of 'family' and of 'marriage, to support a wide range of emerging social needs; and
  • Research into new and novel technologies as they impact the potential of Global Sustainable Development

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Law.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Law
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Applied Economics
  • Public International Law
  • Comparative Law

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.


My current supervision areas are: Law.


Funding and Grants

A set of COVID-related research grants worth £620,000 (USD $850,000) was awarded to the University of Aberdeen’s School of Law and its research partners of Kobe University’s Graduate School of Law and the British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL). The funds from the Japanese Society for the Progression of Science (JSPS) and the UK Research Institute (UKRI) will award the University of Aberdeen and the British Institute for International and Comparative Law with £424,857.38 and Kobe University with ¥29,980,000, accordingly. The grants run for three years, from December 2021 till February 2025.

The funds are in support of the JSPS and UKRI recent call for ‘Addressing COVID-19 Challenges with Japanese Researchers’. The research project proposes to examine how aspects of private law, commercial law, and intellectual property law might be reformed to better enable a rapid policy response in the face of an emerging pandemic.

In particular, expertise from legal game theory, such as anticommons structures, will be used as an innovative legal research methodology.

The research team includes legal scholars from the University of Aberdeen, BIICL, Kobe University, Hokkaido University, Nihon University, and Tokai University, making this one of the broadest UK-Japan legal research projects in recent history.

Professor Partain serves as the PI for all UK-based researchers and Professor Maeda serves as the PI for all Japan-based researchers. 



  • Undergraduate, 4 year, September start

    I was one of the originators of this program and I am glad to take your questions about how we blend studying computer science with the study of law. 

Teaching Responsibilities

Courses and Seminars

Dr. Partain teaches a range of international law courses; topics include Comparative Law, Corporate Environmental Liability, International Public Law, International Environmental Law, International Energy Law,  Law of the Seas, Law & Innovation, and Law & Economics.

He also teaches in multi-disciplinary settings, such as in the Law & Society courses, where he team teaches on the Law of the Seas with professors from drawn from scientific departments. 

Examples of Undergraduate Courses & Seminars at Aberdeen:

  • SX1003 Oceans & Society
  • LS1026 Cases on Law & Society
  • LS2032 Public International Law
  • LS 2536 Introduction to Comparative Law 
  • LS3530 (International) Energy Law 

Examples of Postgraduate Courses & Seminars at Aberdeen:

  • LS501C International Energy & Environmental Law
  • LS501F Energy, Innovation, & Law
  • LS501T Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship
  • LS501V Applied Advocacy
  • LS502K Comparative Contract Law for International Transactions
  • LS551J Low Carbon Energy Transition: Nuclear Energy and Carbon Capture Storage
  • LS551L Corporate Environmental Liability
  • LS551T Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship
  • LS551U Legal and Environmental Issues for Unconventional Hydrocarbon
  • LS552N Commercial Tax Law and Policy 
  • LS5904 Dissertation (For LLM Students) 

Examples of Undergraduate Courses and Lectures delivered Overseas:

  • Introduction to Anglo-American Common Law
  • International Commercial Law 
  • Comparative Constitutional Law  
  • Comparative Contract Law 
  • Corporate Law 
  • European Union Law
  • History of Western Law 
  • International Private Law
  • Legal Research and Writing 
  • Litigation Practicum
  • Comparative Tort Law

Examples of Postgraduate Courses & Lectures delivered Overseas:

  • (Comparative) Asian Law
  • (Comparative) Tort Law
  • Corporate Environmental Liability
  • International Business Transactions
  • International Corporate Litigation
  • International Law and the Challenge of Offshore Methane Hydrates


Ph. D. Supervision

Dr. Partain supervises research students working in the following areas: Law & Economics, Comparative Law, Regulatory Theory, International Trade Law, International Environmental Law, International Energy Law, and related topics.

He is proud to be an Adviser to the following doctoral students:

  • Ahmad Usmarwi Kaffah: On the Optimal Legal Frameworks for Indonesia's Offshore Methane Hydrates
  • Nyingi Bonnie: Interpreting Nigerian Environmental Rules with Context from the Ijon Culture
  • Suchanun Hunsa-Udom: The Tragedy of Common Heritage: Environmental Conservation and the Exploitation of the Resources of the Deep Seabed
  • Alessandro Negri: International Legal Considerations Small-Medium Nuclear Reactors: Both Fission and Fusion based reactors
  • Hakeem Adamu Tahiru: Enforcement and compliance challenges of local content legislations governing oil and gas industries in sub-sahara agrican countries: comparative studyof Angola, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda
  • Etta Ojong-Okongor:   On Water, Economic Access to Water, and the Missing Results from the UNCCD
  • Liliyana Kalinova: On the Provision of Envionmental Law for Mars
  • Ilya Sukhanov:  Legal Foundations for the Privatization of Public Activities
  • Josselin Lavigne:  On Sovereignty over Non-Earth Bodies
  • Hikari Saito: On the Comparative Analysis of Singapore and New York Conventions
  • Jennfier Nwali: Comparative Analysis of Legal Frameworks for Hydrogen Economies
  • Ijud Abeng Tajud: On Protecting the Independence and Functonality of Indonesia's Judiciary

He gladly honors his previous students who successfully passed their viva exams and graduated with their PhDs:

  • Iman Mulyana: Legal Framework for Public Participation in Environmental Decision-Making on Geothermal Energy Project in Indonesia
  • Ngozi Chinwa Ole: The role of law in improving access to electricity through community based renewable energy projects in Nigeria
  • Dennis Otiotio: Regulatory Approaches to Flaring in Nigeria
  • Marianthi Pappa: The 'Butterfly Effect' in Maritime Boundary Dispute Resolution



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  • Hydrate occurrence in Europe: Risks, rewards, and legal frameworks

    Partain, R., Yiallourides, C.
    Marine Policy, vol. 121, 104122
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • A Prospective Review of South Korea’s Environmental And Marine Protection Laws Governing Offshore Methane Hydrate Activities

    Partain, R.
    Chung-And Journal of Legal Studies (중앙대학교 법학논문집), vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 293-350
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Comparative Contract Law: Methodologically Human or Artificially Intelligent?

    Partain, R.
    Hiroshima Law Journal (広島法学), vol. 44, no. 1
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Regulatory Frameworks for South Korea’s Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Activities

    Partain, R.
    Kyungpook National University Law Journal ( 경북대학교 법학연구원 법학논고), vol. 69, pp. 63-115
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Anticommons in Public International Law: Consideration of a New Approach for Legal Research

    Partain, R.
    Gachon Law Review (가천법학), vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 211-264
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Coordinating Public and Private Sustainability: Green Energy Policy, International Trade Law, and Economic Mechanisms

    Partain, R. A.
    Books and Reports: Books
  • An Economic Analysis of Chinese Socio-Legal Norms:: A Book Review of the LAWS AND ECONOMICS OF CONFUCIANISM

    Partain, R.
    Comparative Legal History, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 228-233
    Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles
  • Offshore Methane Hydrates in Japan: Prospects, Challenges and the Law

    Yiallourides, C., Partain, R.
    British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). 74 pages
    Books and Reports: Books
  • Environmental Law and Economics: Theory and Practice

    Faure, M. G., Partain, R. A.
    Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 370 pages
    Books and Reports: Books
  • Efficient Development and Enforcement of a Regulatory Framework for Private Operators in South Korea’s Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage Activities

    Partain, R. A.
    LINKING CLIMATE CHANGE POLICIES. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals