Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe

Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe

Associate Professor

BEnvDes BArch (Hons) UWA, BPolSt (City Policy) (Hons) Murdoch, BA (Jurisprudence) (Hons) Oxford, LLM, Harvard, PhD, ANU

Law & Justice
School of Law, Society & Criminology

Amelia Thorpe is Associate Professor 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 James Martin Institute for Public Policy.

Amelia is the author of Owning the Street: The Everyday Life of Property (MIT Press, 2020), which is reviewed in Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence, City & Community, Contemporary Sociology, Emotion, Space & Society, Journal of Sociology, Landscape Journal, Law & Social Inquiry, Legalities, Planning Theory and Town Planning Review. Amelia's essays and commentary have appeared in The Conversation, Griffith Review, The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald, among other venues. Some of her publications can be downloaded freely at:

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 Australian Research Council, James Martin Institute, and the federal Office of Road Safety. 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 several planning and design review panels at local and state levels. 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 Deputy Academic Lead of the Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team, co-chair of the UNSW Women in Research Network, and chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Law.

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.

+61 2 9385 7602
Room 314 The Law Building University of New South Wales UNSW Kensington Campus Sydney NSW 2052 Australia (Access via Gate 2 off High Street)
  • Books | 2020
    Thorpe A, 2020, Owning the Street: The Everyday Life of Property, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA,
  • Book Chapters | 2024
    Thorpe A, 2024, 'Disrupting Infrastructure: Space, Speed and Street Governance', in Addie J-PD; Glass MR; Nelles J (ed.), Infrastructural Times Temporality and the Making of Global Urban Worlds, Bristol University Press,
    Book Chapters | 2022
    Thorpe A, 2022, 'Property and planning', in The Routledge Handbook of Property, Law and Society, Routledge, pp. 389 - 398,
    Book Chapters | 2021
    Flynn A; Thorpe A, 2021, 'Pandemic pop-ups and the performance of legality', in Doucet B; van Melik R; Filion P (ed.), Volume 3: Public Space and Mobility, Bristol University Press, Bristol,
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Thorpe AL; Stickells L; Moore T, 2017, 'Pop-up justice? Reflecting on relationships in the temporary city', in Hennebury J (ed.), Transience and Permanence in Urban Development, Wiley, pp. 151 - 169,
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Thorpe AL, 2017, 'Between rights in the city and the right to the city: Heritage, character and public participation in urban planning', in Durbach A; Lixinski L (ed.), Heritage, Culture and Rights: Challenging legal discourses, Hart
    Book Chapters | 2016
    Thorpe AL, 2016, 'Land Use Planning', in The Environmental Law Handbook - Planning and Land Use in New South Wales, Thomson Reuters
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Cohen AJ; Morgan B; Thorpe A, 2023, 'Prefigurative Legality', Law and Social Inquiry, 48, pp. 1053 - 1082,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rogers D; Leach A; Ludewig J; Thorpe A; Troy L, 2023, 'Mapping the frontiers of private property in New South Wales, Australia', Geographical Research,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Thorpe A, 2023, 'PREFIGURATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE: Mobility, Citizenship, and the Agency of Objects', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 47, pp. 183 - 199,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Beck B; Thorpe A; Timperio A; Giles-Corti B; William C; de Leeuw E; Christian H; Corben K; Stevenson M; Backhouse M; Ivers R; Hayek R; Raven R; Bolton S; Ameratunga S; Shilton T; Zapata-Diomedi B, 2022, 'Active transport research priorities for Australia', Journal of Transport and Health, 24,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Morgan B; Thorpe A, 2022, 'Place-based pedagogies of hope', International Journal of Law in Context, 18, pp. 427 - 439,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Thorpe A; Morgan B, 2022, 'Prefigurative Legality: Rethinking Municipal Jurisdiction', Urban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies, 58, pp. 2096 - 2115,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Morgan B; Thorpe A; Cooper D, 2021, 'The hopeful edges of power: Radical governance and acting ‘as if’', Griffith Review, 73, pp. 233 - 245,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Thorpe A; Williamson S, 2021, 'Trusted institutions: Expertise, gender, and legitimacy on planning panels', Australian Journal of Public Administration, 80, pp. 638 - 644,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Thorpe A, 2021, '"This Land is Yours": Ownership and Agency in the Sharing City', Journal of Law and Society,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Thorpe A, 2021, 'Reclaiming the Streets? Possibilities for Post-Pandemic Public Space', Town Planning Review, 92,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Thorpe A, 2021, 'Regulatory Gentrification: Documents, displacement and the loss of low-income housing', Urban Studies, 58, pp. 2623 - 2639,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Morgan B; Thorpe A, 2018, 'Introduction: Law for a new economy: Enterprise, sharing, regulation', Journal of Law and Society, 45, pp. 1 - 9,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Thorpe A, 2018, '"This Land is Yours": Ownership and Agency in the Sharing City', Journal of Law and Society, 45, pp. 99 - 115,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Thorpe A, 2018, 'Hegel's Hipsters: Claiming Ownership in the Contemporary City', SOCIAL & LEGAL STUDIES, 27, pp. 25 - 48,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Thorpe A, 2018, 'Pop-up Property: Enacting ownership from San Francisco to Sydney', Law and Society Review, 52, pp. 740 - 772,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Thorpe A, 2017, 'Rethinking Participation, Rethinking Planning', Planning Theory & Practice, 18, pp. 566 - 582,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Thorpe A, 2013, 'Planning with the Public?', Alternative Law Journal, 38, pp. 272 - 273,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Thorpe AL; Hart MA, 2013, 'Changing Climates, Changing Cities? Planning Reform and Urban Sustainability in New South Wales', The Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy, 16, pp. 133 - 156,;dn=204711638848451;res=IELHSS
    Journal articles | 2013
    Thorpe AL, 2013, 'Planning with the Public? Participation in the reform of the NSW planning system', Alternative Law Journal, pp. 272 - 272
    Journal articles | 2013
    Thorpe AL, 2013, 'Public participation in planning: Lessons from the green bans', Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 30, pp. 93 - 105
    Journal articles | 2012
    Thorpe AL, 2012, 'Country Profile: Australia', Carbon and Climate Law Review, pp. 261 - 261
    Journal articles | 2012
    Thorpe AT, 2012, 'Too little, too soon? An assessment of Australian carbon capture and storage legislation against the new standards set for the Clean Development Mechanism', Climate Law, 3, pp. 139 - 163,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Thorpe AL; Graham K, 2009, 'Community-based Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of REDD Projects', Carbon and Climate Law Review, 3, pp. 303
    Journal articles | 2009
    Thorpe AL; Graham K, 2009, 'Green Buildings: Are codes, standards and targets sufficient drivers of sustainability in NSW?', Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 26, pp. 486 - 497
    Journal articles | 2008
    Thorpe A, 2008, 'Tort-Based Climate Change Litigation and the Political Question Doctrine', Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law, 24, pp. 79 - 105,
    Journal articles | 1999
    Thorpe A, 1999, 'Déjà vu: Memory in Architecture', Architectural Theory Review, 4, pp. 64 - 73
    Journal articles | 1999
    Thorpe A, 1999, 'Version to Version: ARM’s Architecture Revisited for a New Landscape', Kerb, pp. 23 - 33
  • Reports | 2024
    Thorpe A, 2024, Submission to the Inquiry into Historical Development Consents in NSW
    Conference Papers | 2023
    Thorpe A; Johnson M; Hercus C; Rudge T; Boufous S, 2023, 'Recruiting for road safety research: vital voices, scams and safeguards', Cairns, Queensland, Australia, 4870, presented at Australasian Road Safety Conference, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, 4870, 18 September 2023 - 21 September 2023
    Conference Papers | 2023
    Thorpe A; Johnson M; Hercus C; Rudge T; Boufous S, 2023, '“You exercise and you get paid for it”: insights from bicycle delivery riders', Perth, Western Australia, Australia, 6009, presented at Australasian Transport Research Forum, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, 6009, 29 November 2023 - 01 December 2023,
    Conference Papers | 2022
    Thorpe A; Johnson M; Hercus C; Boufous S, 2022, 'Improving road safety for food delivery cyclists​', Christchurch, New Zealand, presented at Australasian Road Safety Conference 2022, Christchurch, New Zealand, 28 September 2022
    Reports | 2021
    Dagraville R; Anwar M; Tomka K; Thorpe A; Kuch D; Milton A; Hasan K; McGrath B; Meegahapola L; Tirunagari S; Jalili M; Newman P; Verschuer M; Economou D; James B; Hargroves C; Mouritz M; Dwyer S; Nagrath K; Paevere P; Spak B; Pellow M; Chhaya S; Barnfather P; Jafari B; Fick J, 2021, Electric vehicles and the grid,
    Reports | 2021
    Lee A; McCabe G; Thorpe A; Gibbs R; Bondfield R, 2021, Measuring and Evaluating Extended Outdoor Dining, Sydney
    Reports | 2021
    Thorpe A; McCabe A; Johnson C; Hobbs E; Bailey M; Hartigan M, 2021, Developing a national gender equity policy for the planning profession: A discussion paper, Planning Institute of Australia,
    Other | 2021
    Thorpe A, 2021, Informal urbanism in Sydney: Privilege, precarity, politics, Henry Halloran Trust, University of Sydney, ,
    Reports | 2021
    Thorpe A, 2021, Submission to the Greater Sydney Parklands White Paper
    Reports | 2020
    McCabe A; Grech E; Thorpe A, 2020, Post Approval Social Impact Management Review: Discussion Paper
    Reports | 2020
    Reinmuth G; Crabtree L; Jackson B; Lee A; Perry N; Scheule H; Thorpe A, 2020, Creating the City We Want: Tackling the Barriers to Housing Diversity in NSW, Sydney
    Reports | 2017
    Thorpe AL, 2017, Submission to the NSW Government on the 'Planning legislation updates 2017
    Reports | 2016
    Thorpe A; Holley C, 2016, Submission to the NSW Government on 'Revised Consultative Committee Guidelines for State Significant Projects'
    Reports | 2014
    Thorpe AL; Hart M, 2014, Submission to the NSW Government on the 'BASIX Target Review'
    Conference Papers | 2014
    Thorpe AL; Stickells L, 2014, 'Beyond Protest: Activism and participation in 1970s Sydney', in Gjerde M; Petrovic E (ed.), UHPH_14: Landscapes and Ecologies of Urban and Planning History Proceedings of the 12th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference, Australasian Urban History/Planning History Group and Victoria University of Wellington, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, pp. 797 - 814, presented at 12th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, 02 February 2014 - 02 February 2014
    Reports | 2014
    Thorpe AL, 2014, Submission to the Productivity Commission on the 'Access to Justice Arrangements Draft Report'
    Reports | 2013
    Thorpe AL, 2013, Submission to the NSW Government on the 'New Planning System for NSW White Paper, Planning Bill 2013 and Planning (Administration) Bill 2013'
    Reports | 2013
    Thorpe AL, 2013, Submission to the Productivity Commission on the 'Major Project Development Assessment Processes Issues Paper'
    Reports | 2012
    Thorpe A; Holley C; Sherry C, 2012, Submission to the NSW Government on the New Planning System for NSW Green Paper, Australia
    Preprints |
    Thorpe A; Moore T; Stickells L, Pop-Up Justice? Reflecting on Relationships in the Temporary City, ,
    Preprints |
    Thorpe A, Between Rights in the City and the Right to the City: Heritage, Character and Public Participation in Urban Planning, ,
    Preprints |
    Thorpe A, Hegel's Hipsters: Claiming Ownership in the Contemporary City, ,
    Preprints |
    Thorpe A, Pop-up Property: Enacting Ownership from San Francisco to Sydney, ,

'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

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

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

Sydney Urbanistas

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

Editorial roles

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


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)

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.

My Teaching

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.

Courses taught

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)