Dr Paul Harpur

Senior Lecturer

School of Law
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law
+61 7 336 58864


Dr Paul Harpur is a leading international and comparative disability rights academic.

He has legal practice and teaching expertese in teaching anti-discrimination laws, human rights, labour laws and work health and safety laws.

Dr Harpur has a mixture of practice and research experience, having formerly practiced as a lawyer and continuing to work as an industrial relations special advisor in a national private practice, IRIQ Law, as a special advisor. In the past Dr Harpur has held a range of research posts, including, research fellowships at The University of Queensland, Griffith Law School and on an Australian Research Council grant with Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, the United Nations University, New York University and the Centre for International Governance (Canada).

Dr Harpur has led a range of projects, including an International Labour Organization project assessing labour rights in the South Pacific, including a particular focus on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Dr Harpur has an extremely strong international reputation and has held visiting fellowship positions with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, Institute for Lifecourse & Society, National University of Ireland, Galway and with the Burton Blatt Institute, College of Law, Syracuse University, New York. Following his work at Syracuse University, Dr Harpur has been appointed an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute.

Dr Harpur’s recent monograph, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the E-Book for the Print Disabled (2017) Cambridge University Press analyses the interaction between anti-discrimination and copyright laws, in the international human rights and copyright jurisdictions, as well as in the national jurisdictions in Australia, Canada, the UK and USA. This work builds on international and domestic notions of digital equality and rights to access information. The core thesis of this monograph is that technology now creates the possibility that everyone in the world, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, should be able to access the written word.

Dr Harpur is active on boards and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities to use assistance animals. He sits on UQ's Academic Board as an elected member and he currently Chairs the University of Queensland Staff and Student Disability Consultative Group to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Office of the Provost) and the Senate Committee for Equity, Diversity and the Status of Women.

Outside the law, Dr Harpur has previously been a professional athlete with a disability, competing in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Paralympics, the 2002 Manchester and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and a range of other World Titles and international competitions.

In addition to UQ's E-Space, references to 197 of Dr Harpur’s publications can be found on his Google Scholar page. Further information can be found on his Linkedin page.

Research Interests

  • International and Comparative Disability Law
    I have 4 major projects extending over the next few years around the topics of: 1. Ablism at Work and Hierarchies of Impairments 2. The Relevance of International Disability Human Rights Laws to the Developing World 3. Universally Designed for Whom? Disability, the Law and Practice of Expanding the “Normal” User 4. Equality and Disability Assistance Animals
  • Labour and Work Health and Safety Laws


  • Bachelor of Laws, Queensland University of Technology
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Queensland University of Technology
  • Master of Laws, Queensland University of Technology
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Queensland University of Technology


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Featured Publications


Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor