Law PhD/MPhil


The School of Law strives to promote research excellence among all its scholars. It recognizes that high-quality legal research may take many different forms. A wide variety of legal research methods are employed in the numerous research projects ongoing in the School. The School takes the view that postgraduate research students and academics are all engaged in the same scholarly endeavours and can learn a great deal from each other. 

Postgraduate research students are invited to play a full role in all the research activities of the School. While legal research is often an individual activity, many collaborative research activities, including co-authorship of publications, collaborations with visiting scholars, seminars, reading and discussion groups and distinguished visitors' seminars, take place in the School. Postgraduate research students are welcome to participate in all such activities.

The School of Law offers supervision for research degrees in most subject areas of law, and also for interdisciplinary projects which have a legal aspect. We currently have around 30 registered research students, who come from all over the world. The School has ESRC recognition for its research degrees in the areas of socio-legal and criminology. Research candidates may study either for the Degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). 

Those candidates wishing to study for a PhD are normally admitted first to the MPhil programme, and may then transfer to the PhD later if progress warrants this. In line with the majority of law schools within the United Kingdom, the normal length of an MPhil thesis is about 60,000 words, and the normal length of a doctoral thesis about 100,000 words.

Research interests of members of the School of Law fall within the following subject areas: 

  • Administrative Law 
  • Administrative Liability
  • Admiralty
  • Banking Law
  • Biorisks
  • Carriage of Goods by Sea
  • Civil Liberties
  • Commercial Law
  • Company Law
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Contract Law
  • Corporate Insolvency
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology and Penology
  • Critical Theory
  • Drug Control Law
  • E-Commerce Law
  • Employment Law
  • English Common Law
  • English Legal System
  • Environmental Law
  • Estoppel; Equity
  • Evidence
  • EC Trade Law
  • EU Law: Environmental Law
  • EU Law: General
  • EU Law: Sex and Race Equality
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Government Liability
  • Healthcare Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • International Property
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Economic Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Law Theory
  • International Trade Law
  • Land Law
  • Landlord and Tenant
  • Law of International Organisations
  • Legal History
  • Legal Theory
  • Local Government Law
  • Marine Insurance Law
  • Maritime Law
  • Mental Health Law
  • Partnership
  • Property
  • Private International Law
  • Public International Law
  • Public Procurement Law
  • Queer History
  • Restitution
  • Refugee Law
  • Sentencing
  • Socio-Legal Studies
  • Taxation
  • Tort
  • Transnational Criminal Law
  • Treaty Law
  • Trusts
  • Use of Force
  • Welfare Law
  • World Trade Organisation

Course Facilities

As well as benefiting from very extensive library holdings, research students in the School of Law enjoy a number of excellent facilities.

All research students currently registered in the School of Law have 24-hour access to a private study carrel, each with its own computer (wired for Internet access), lockable desk space and access to unlimited free printing (students simply provide their own paper). The carrels are located in the School of Law Research Student Room (on the ground floor of the Law and Social Sciences Building).

The School also has a generous fund to assist research students with expenses incurred in connection with their research work, such as field trips and attendance at conferences. The amounts available are generally sufficient to enable students to attend at least one or two conferences each year (although this may vary according to demand). Money from this fund can also be used to pay for photocopying and inter-library loan expenses in excess of the amounts set out below.

All research students are also entitled automatically to the following:

  • Photocopying cards to the value of £30 per term plus £30 for the summer vacation (total £120 pa) for full time students; or £20 per term plus £20 for the summer vacation (total £80 pa) for part time students.
  • 40 subsidised inter-library loan vouchers each year. (These vouchers allow students to obtain inter-library loans at a cost of £1 instead of the usual cost of £4.76).

Course Research support

A number of University support services  exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Postgraduate Students' Association (PGSA) are a particularly important source of support.  

The School provides a short induction course at the start of each year to introduce its research candidates to the Research Programme and to the School's facilities and resources. This induction course and its accompanying social programme also gives new research candidates the chance to get to know their peers and also provides an excellent opportunity to meet the staff of the School. There is also a short induction programme organised by the University's Graduate School. This provides information about broader university facilities, and will give you your first opportunity to meet postgraduate candidates from other Schools within the University.

The School of Law provides a one-semester module in Legal Research Methods. This module considers the diverse spectrum of legal scholarship and methodologies. Students will refresh or enhance their legal research skills and receive training in a range of research methods and techniques. On completion it is expected that students should be able to:

  • Identify various approaches to legal scholarship and characterise their own research interests and scholarship;
  • Apply research skills and methods, including being able to use, interpret and locate legal sources, as is necessary to address a research topic;
  • Design and write a research proposal and evaluate it.

The School offers a wide range of courses on specific areas of law, and you may also find it useful to attend some of these classes as part of your work schedule. You may, in particular, be interested in some of the specialist courses offered on the School's thriving Masters of Law (LLM) Programme, which is one of the most extensive LLM Programmes in the United Kingdom. Your supervisor can provide advice on which courses you could benefit from. 


UK/EU Students

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding. The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of funding. Studentship opportunities

are also available.

International Students

The International School at the University of Nottingham has more information about funding for overseas students.

Please also visit our online funding information.  

Additional opportunities

Visit the School page for additional opportunities.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2013, 90% of postgraduates in the School of Law who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,333 with the highest being £25,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2012/13.

Career Prospects and Employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia. 


Postgraduate Programmes Administrator
School of Law
University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD 
t:   +44 (0)115 951 5732 

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The Enquiry Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
f: +44 (0) 115 951 5812
e: postgraduate-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk
w: Frequently asked questions