Law PhD


Fact file

3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
Entry requirements
LLM or masters degree in a relevant discipline, with a taught and dissertation average of 65% or above; plus a 2:1 (or international equivalent)
7.0 (no less than 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading, and 6.0 in speaking and listening) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September or January
Other requirements
You will need a research proposal, two academic references and academic transcripts

Research overview

With well-established research centres and links to leading institutions around the world, the School of Law is a dynamic centre for PhD study.

A PhD is the most advanced form of postgraduate study. It is awarded on the successful completion of supervised research, verbal examination and final thesis.

In the school, we promote research excellence, recognising that high-quality legal research may take many different forms. We use a variety of research methods across our projects.

You will be assigned two supervisors who will have the appropriate expertise to support your research project. The school offers supervision in most subject areas, and for interdisciplinary projects which have a legal aspect to them.

Law research areas include:

  • Commercial law
  • Criminal justice
  • Environmental law
  • European law
  • Human rights
  • Intellectual property law
  • International law
  • Maritime law
  • Public procurement

We promote a vibrant and diverse academic and social community, currently joined by around 80 research students from all over the world.

Research students and academics are all engaged in the same endeavours and can learn a great deal from each other. We actively encourage our doctoral students to engage in the wider community of the school and play a full role in its research activities.

While legal research is often an individual activity, many collaborative research activities take place, including co-authorship of publications, seminar series, and reading and discussion groups. In addition, our research students organise their own seminar series, which helps them practise and develop their presentation skills.

You will benefit from:

  • a comprehensive introduction to the school
  • an annual research presentation day which involves all research students, with all academics invited
  • a Legal Research Methods module which supports and embeds methodological knowledge
  • an annual review of your progress for monitoring and support
  • a minimum of 10 supervision meetings per year for full-time students, and six for part-time students
  • funding opportunities for conference, summer school and workshop attendance
  • opportunities to build your paid teaching experience by delivering undergraduate tutorials
  • access to free personal and professional development courses offered by the Graduate School


The School of Law's deadline for receiving applications for September 2018 entry is Friday 29 June. However, it is strongly recommended that you apply as early as possible. Applications received by Wednesday 31 January will be given priority consideration and full-time students will automatically be considered for school funding.

Find out how to apply

Key facts

  • The School of Law is consistently ranked among the world's top law schools, placing in the top 100 worldwide in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
  • 81% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • 96.6% of law postgraduates secured work or further study within six months of graduation




School facilities

The School of Law has a dedicated office for PhD students. You will have 24-hour access to a private study space, with your own computer, lockable desk space and unlimited free printing.

Library facilities

The Hallward Library, located directly opposite the Law and Social Sciences building, has a dedicated section for law resources, providing an extensive range of textbooks, journals, reports and other resources.

Graduate School

Representing the needs of postgraduate students across the University, the Graduate School provides research training and development for postgraduates and early career researchers.

You will have access to a dedicated space on University Park, which includes computer stations, Wi-Fi, study and social areas, and kitchen facilities.


Research support

School support

The School of Law has a multi-faceted approach to supporting students. All postgraduate research students are allocated an adviser, who is a member of academic staff with detailed knowledge of the doctoral programme and supervision process. You will meet with your adviser regularly and they will act as a source of confidential support. In addition to your adviser, you are welcome to contact the co-directors of the research degrees programme at any point.

Supervisors also act as an important source of support. Throughout the duration of your studies you will develop a strong working relationship with your supervisors, and they will provide you with assistance and support as you carry out your research.


The school has a generous fund to assist postgraduate students with research-related expenses, such as attendance at conferences and workshops, field trips for data collection or to access specific resources. You will have an allocated fund to support you for the duration of your studies.

In addition to allocated funding, you will have the opportunity to apply for other school funding, such as the JC Smith and Reuben Lipmann travelling scholarships, and our Postgraduate Fund for Short Courses in Europe, which offers financial support for attendance at a range of different summer schools.


The Legal Research Methods module considers the diverse spectrum of legal scholarship and methodologies. You will refresh or enhance your legal research skills and receive training in a range of research methods and techniques.

It will enable you to identify various approaches to legal scholarship and characterise your research interests, apply research skills and methods, including being able to use, interpret and locate legal sources, and design, write and evaluate a research proposal. You are also encouraged, where appropriate, to undertake modules offered as part of the school’s LLM programme, which is one of the most extensive in the country.

The University is an advocate of Vitae's Researcher Development Framework, and as such, we provide significant opportunities for students to develop personally and professionally. You will be able to subscribe to the Researcher Development Framework Planner which allows you to map the training you have undertaken against the core competencies and behaviours needed to be a successful career researcher. In this way, you can take ownership of your developmental needs and identify any further training that may be required.

Bespoke courses (online and face-to-face) are offered on subjects such as methodological training, presentation skills, understanding the doctorate process, preparing for the viva, and more. You will undertake a training needs analysis with your supervisors when starting your studies, so relevant development opportunities can be identified.

Teaching opportunities

Second and third-year research students can apply to undertake paid teaching experience by delivering undergraduate tutorials. Teaching is subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. Training courses on teaching methods are on offer.

Student Services

Student Services provide a range of support and information to enhance your student experience. They are part of a comprehensive network of University services that includes academic and disability support, counselling, financial support and childcare services.

International Office

The International Office ensures EU and international students have all the information they need to live and study at Nottingham. It offers a welcome programme just before the start of the academic year.

Centre for English Language Education

Accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, the University's Centre for English Language Education provides high-quality preparation and English language support, as well as a social programme for its students.

Students' Union

The Students' Union is an important source of support with their own Student Advice Centre and dedicated postgraduate officer.

Researcher Development Programme

Working closely with academic schools, the Graduate School's dedicated training team contribute to faculty specific and doctoral training programmes. They deliver core training in line with the standards set out by the UK's major research funders through their researcher development programme.

As well as helping you to develop your research skills, this offers you opportunities to enhance your communication skills, career prospects, time management and entrepreneurship, as well as meet and work alongside researchers from other disciplines.


Find a supervisor

You will be assigned two supervisors appropriate to your field. Please make sure that we have a supervisor who shares an interest in your proposed area of research before applying. Details of research supervisors at the University can also be found on our research A to Z.

The school offers supervision in most subject areas, and for interdisciplinary projects which have a legal aspect to them.



There are many ways to fund your research study including studentship opportunities. Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

The School of Law offers a number of PhD scholarships each year. All full-time applications received by Wednesday 31 January will be automatically considered, unless a scholarship has already been awarded by another funding body.

Midlands Graduate School

Nottingham is part of the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership, which offers funding opportunities for postgraduate students each year.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of research scholarships for outstanding international and EU students.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your research course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Many PhD graduates go on to secure academic roles in the UK and wider world. Some enter the legal profession or return to their prior career with enhanced prospects. Others work for governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations.

Employability and average starting salary

96.6% of postgraduates from the School of Law who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £23,214 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £32,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

The University's award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.


Get in touch

+44 (0)115 951 5559
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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

School of Law

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The University of Nottingham
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NG7 2RD 

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