Dr Nasrul Ismail

LLB (Hons), MSc (Distinction), PhD

  • BS8 1TZ

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Personal profile

Research interests

As a social scientist with extensive research experience, I examine the impact of political economy on the governance and delivery of prison health.

Timely and applicative, this research has informed the actions of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the World Health Organization, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the House of Commons Justice Committee, the National Audit Office, and the Nuffield Trust. My findings have also been referenced by Conservative, Labour, and Green Party politicians in the UK and have been featured in news outlets such as the Byline TimesThe Daily MirrorThe Spectator, and Scram News.

Drawing on this research, I have published consistently and prodigiously, placing more than 40 papers in leading academic journals, such as Health PolicyThe Lancet Public Health, and BMC Public Health. Several of my outputs have been graded either 3* or 4* with respect to the Research Excellence Framework, which means they are either internationally excellent or world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour.  As both a principal investigator and a co-investigator on various projects, I have generated over £200,000 in external funding.

Working with various national and/or international researchers and organisations, I am presently:

  • Investigating how the responses of the UK Government towards COVID-19 mitigations across English prisons have breached the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights;

  • Mapping COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation within prisons across the globe (with Dr Emma Plugge, University of Southampton, UK; Dr Lara Tavoschi, University of Pisa, Italy; Dr Babak Moazen, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany; and Alicia Roselló, UK Health Security Agency, UK);

  • Determining how emergency powers implemented and sustained in prisons, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, signal penal transitions towards authoritarianism (with Professor Christina Pantazis, University of Bristol, UK);

  • Disseminating findings on the impact of austerity on English prison healthcare (with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and PolicyBristol, UK);

  • Improving end-of-life care for prisoners in England and Wales (with Professor Ailsa Cameron, Professor Karen West, and Dr Ellie Johnson, University of Bristol); and

  • Exploring rehabilitation opportunities for Malaysian prisoners through access to higher education and apprenticeship provisions (with Dr Dewi Amat Sapuan, Wawasan Open University, Malaysia).

My eight-plus years of teaching and research supervision experience span more than 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. I am convening the two largest units at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol: “Punishment in Society” and “Critical Skills for Social Scientists.” I also welcome the opportunity to co-supervise doctoral students on topics aligned with my research interests.

On an annual basis and across all modules, I have been praised by students for my enthusiasm, approachability, and professionalism. Most of my dissertation students have earned either distinction or first-class marks. I was nominated for the Outstanding Personal Tutoring and Outstanding Research Supervision categories for the Bristol Teaching Awards 2022. I am also a Careers and Employability Lead for the School for Policy Studies.

I read law and public health at the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol, respectively. Prior to my academic career, I was, for nearly a decade, a Public Health Commissioner for various public-sector organisations, where I oversaw a total budget of £25.3m.

Finally, I am often invited to collaborate on research, to speak at conferences around the world, and to respond to media enquiries. I welcome such opportunities and can be contacted at Nasrul.Ismail@bristol.ac.uk.


  • Prison health
  • Political economy
  • Austerity
  • Prisons


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