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Studying for a PhD/MPhil or LLM by Research

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) over 80% of the Law School's research was rated as internationally excellent or world leading. Research in the School covers a wide range of legal and socio-legal issues, leading to an exciting, challenging and interdisciplinary research environment.

The Law School offers programmes in Law and Criminology of supervised research leading to the degrees of LLM by Research, MPhil, or PhD:

  • The LLM by research is a 12 month full time programme, where the student researches and writes a thesis of 40,000 words.
  • The MPhil is a two year programme.
  • The PhD is a traditional research degree where the student researches and writes a thesis over three years. Normally Ph.D students are registered as provisional Ph.D students. At the end of your first 18 months, you will then have your Ph.D registration confirmed if your progress has been satisfactory (as to which see below).

Common for all of these degrees is that they are awarded on the basis of a thesis on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the School of Law. The School approves only those topics in which it has sufficient supervisory competence. In this respect, the School has an interest in most of the usual substantive legal topics. Please see PhD Areas of Expertise for Supervisors.

Areas of research strengths

There are several research areas in which the School currently has numerous PhD students. These include:

  • International Law and International Human Rights
  • Sexual Offences
  • Commercial and Company Law
  • Medical Law
  • Criminology

You should also access the research and staff pages for further information on research interests.


Research Training

Soon after your registration as a research student, you are required to formulate a research training programme in consultation with your supervisor and the Director of Postgraduate Studies. This should be tailored to your own research topic, methodology and experience. A Research Training Programme is provided through a combination and co-ordination of Faculty and School modules, which offer a foundation in the social sciences (broadly conceived) and discipline-specific training. All students are recommended to take those modules directly related to their research topic and methodology, and to attend the School's Research Method and Study Skills module offered to the LLM students. The Law School is part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences which runs a research-training programme for all research students. This programme consists of a number of taught courses. Information will be given to you about these courses during the Faculty's Induction Programme for research students.

Facilities for Research Students

In addition to the common room, photocopier, graduate notice board and other facilities mentioned in the section of this Guide on School and University Facilities, there are some services specifically provided for research students. All full-time research students are provided with desks in study rooms (part-time students with special needs in this respect are asked to speak with the Director). At the beginning of the year, you will be allocated a room and given a key. Desks, bookshelves and computers are provided in accordance with Faculty standards. The School also wishes to promote and encourage those research students interested in teaching. For those who do take up teaching duties, the Director of Graduate Studies will also function as a teaching tutor, offering consultation, advice and support.

The following are some of the services which you might want to use during the course of your study.

Language Training

Please see the English for Academic Purposes web page for further details.

Study Skills

In addition to the components in the research training programme, theSchool of Independent Studies offers sessions on "how to survive as a postgraduate". The University offers courses for overseas students, covering English language and other study skills. In particular, it offers a pre-sessional course in September which is strongly recommended for any student whose first language is not English and who has not previously studied at university level in English.

Confirmation of PhD Status

The confirmation stage normally takes place within the first 18 months of registration. Full guidance will be given to students well in advance of the decision being made.

Funding for Postgraduate Study

If you have not already obtained funding for your postgraduate work, your attention is drawn to the following possibilities.

Current and past students have been awarded scholarships by the ESRC and the British Academy for research degrees in the School. The deadlines for these applications are strict and you should contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies, Dr James Summers well in advance if you wish to apply.

This is also the case with the various University and College Awards available.

You should contact the Postgraduate Co-ordinator, Eileen Jones in relation to all these studentships and awards early in the year in which you propose to commence your studies, or you can obtain information from the Graduate School.

Admission to Research Degree Programmes

You can find details of our admissions requirements and how to apply on the Postgraduate Admissions Information page.

The Law School, in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is able to offer one studentship, please see FASS website for further details.


Masters Degrees FAQs (pdf)

Information for:

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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