Student Profile: Zoe Prebble

Student Profile: Zoe Prebble

Zoe is currently writing her dissertation on the overlap between different criminal offences.

By Anna Lund, PhD Candidate, UBC Faculty of Law

Zo Prebble, a PhD student at UBC, is currently writing her dissertation on the overlap between different criminal offences. She explains "there can be a lot of political incentives to enact new 'specific' offences to cover conduct that is already covered by a general offence. But there are few corresponding incentives to get rid of redundant offences."

Zo's dissertation topic grew out of a project she worked on at the New Zealand Law Commission. She was tasked with reviewing part of that country's Crimes Act of 1961. The legislation identified several different types of assault, distinguished based on who was being assaulted (e.g. assault on a child, assault on a police officer). All these specific provisions overlapped with the general crime of assault. In her dissertation, Zo is exploring what purposes such overlap might serve, and when, if at all, it is appropriate. She hopes to devise guiding principles that legislative drafters or policy analysts could refer to when designing new offences or reviewing existing legislation.

Zo has always been attracted to the idea of graduate studies, but she had initially considered pursuing a career in philosophy. Then, in her upper year undergraduate classes, she found her interests in philosophy and the law began to dovetail. "It felt good to apply what I'd learned in philosophy to law, which has such tangible impacts on real people's lives."

This year, Zo had the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for her subject matter with criminology students at Simon Fraser University, where she taught a survey course in legal philosophy. Teaching for the first time, Zo was guided by the examples of two of her favourite teachers: Professor Claudia Geiringer from Victoria University, Wellington, and Zo's supervisor at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Emma Cunliffe. "There's something really influential about seeing young women, a bit like oneself, doing deep, exciting research and also being two of the best teachers I've ever had." After completing her PhD, Zo hopes to continue to teach and research in a law school setting.

Zo Prebble's publications available on SSRN, go here: