17:30 to 18:30
End date
06 December 2017
Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College, Linton Rd, Oxford OX2 6UD
Wednesday, 6 December 2017 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm


The Case for a Written Constitution

Keynote Lecture by AC Grayling, Master of the New College of the Humanities, London


In this Keynote Lecture, renowned philosopher A. C. Grayling will set out the case for a written constitution, to address the centuries-old anomaly that the UK has no formally agreed written Constitution, despite forming the model for constitutions around the world.

Professor Grayling will examine the constitutional questions raised by Brexit, and argue that now more than ever, it is time for the UK to debate and confirm a written constitutional Agreement of the People for the twenty-first century.

Professor Grayling lays out the terms of the debate:

The debate about the merits of written versus unwritten constitutions comes down to a debate about the merits of clarity versus flexibility in the intertwined operations of the political, legal, and governmental orders of a state.

It should also be a debate about consistency and transparency versus expediency and political over-plasticity, as recent events have demonstrated: on which ground, I argue for a written constitution.


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A. C. Grayling is the Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy, and the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He is a columnist for Prospect magazine, and was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian and Times.

He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3, 2 and the World Service, for which he did the annual 'Exchanges at the Frontier' series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2015 serving as the Chair of the judging panel.

He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Sionaidh Douglas ScottAnniversary Chair in Law, QMUL and Frank VibertSenior Visiting Fellow, LSE will provide brief comments on the themes raised in the leture, before questions from the audience.


As a special offer to lecture attendees, we will be making available copies of Constitution in Crisis: The New Putney Debates (RRP £10.99) for a one-off pre-Christmas discount price of just £5.

The book has been sent to all MPs and High Court judges in the land, and features an essay by AC Grayling on a written constitution for the UK. Full details can be found on our website at

To take advantage of this one-off discount, please bring £5 in cash, along with a copy of your EventBrite booking confirmation (in electronic or paper form) on the day.