Law PhD/MPhil


A reputation for research excellence

The School of Law strives to promote research excellence among all of its scholars. We recognise that high-quality legal research may take many different forms, with a wide variety of legal research methods being employed in the numerous ongoing research projects within the school.

We are recognised by the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014) as disseminating world class research of international significance, and are ranked 6th in terms of research power.

The School of Law is also recognised as the 41st ranked law school in the world by the QS World Rankings 2016. We also have ESRC recognition for our research degrees in the areas of socio-legal and criminology, as well as AHRC recognition for socio-legal studies.

The School of Law's postgraduate research community

The school currently has around 50 registered research students, who come from all over the world, and we actively seek to encourage and promote a vibrant and diverse community, not only from an academic perspective but also socially.

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. To this end, our doctoral students are actively encouraged to engage in the wider scholarly community of the school and play a full role in our research activities.

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.

Moreover, our research students organise their own seminar series, through which they have the opportunity to present their research to their peers, as well as develop their professional research skills. Information relating to previous presentations as part of the seminar series can be found on the school website.

Supervision expertise

All doctoral students are allocated two research supervisors, who will have the appropriate topic and/or methodological expertise to support the research project being undertaken.

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.

Candidates are asked to be aware that the school cannot guarantee that two appropriate supervisors may be found to oversee their project, as this is dependent upon the available capacity of colleagues in any given academic year.

Key features of the PhD programme

  • A comprehensive induction to the school and social welcome event
  • Annual Research Presentation Day which involves the participation of all research students, with all academic colleagues invited
  • Compulsory Legal Research Methods module to support and embed methodological knowledge appropriate to research in the field of law
  • An annual review of progress for monitoring and support purposes
  • A minimum of ten supervision meetings per year for full-time students, and a minimum of six supervision meetings per year for part-time students
  • Funding opportunities for conference, summer school and workshop attendance
  • Opportunities to apply for teaching experience in the form of delivering undergraduate tutorials
  • Access to free personal and professional development courses facilitated by the Graduate School
  • Submission of a 100,000 word thesis which is assessed by a viva voce examination

Entry criteria

In order to be considered for entry onto our doctoral programme, candidates are required to have:

  • An LLM degree (or appropriate alternative masters degree), for which an average of 65% was achieved for the taught stage, and the mark for the dissertation was 65% (or relevant international equivalent) AND
  • An undergraduate degree (preferably in the field of law) for which a classification of at least a 2:1 was achieved (or relevant international equivalent)

International and EU students are also required to meet the following English Language proficiency standards:

  • IELTS 7.0 (with no less than 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading, and 6.0 in speaking and listening) OR
  • Successful completion of the appropriate presessional English course delivered by the University's Centre of English Language Education

Course Facilities


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

Students are also entitled to 40 free inter-library loan vouchers per academic year, which allow them to obtain loans from other libraries and institutions. 

The School of Law has its own dedicated office for PhD students. Students have 24-hour access to a private study space, each with its own computer, lockable desk space and access to unlimited free printing. As well as the school's computer and social space, students have 24 hour access to the Graduate School space in Highfield House, which is also located directly opposite Law and Social Sciences.


The school has a generous fund to assist research students with expenses incurred in connection with their research work, such as attendance at conferences and workshops, and field trips for data collection or to access specific resources. Each research student has their own allocated fund to support them for the duration of their registered studies.

In addition to the allocated funding, our postgraduate research students 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.

Outside of the school, the University offers a number of opportunities to help support students to engage in research activities.


The School of Law provides a one-semester module in Legal Research Methods, which is compulsory for all PhD students in the autumn term of their first year. 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

Postgraduate research students are also encouraged, where appropriate, to undertake any of the modules offered as part of the school's thriving LLM programme, which is one of the most extensive LLM Programmes in the United Kingdom. 

The University is an advocate of Vitae's Researcher Development Framework, and as such, we provide a significant amount of opportunities for students to develop on both a personal and professional level. Students are able to subscribe to the Researcher Development Framework Planner which allows them to map the training they have undertaken against the core competencies and behaviours needed in order to be a successful career researcher, so that they can take ownership of their own developmental needs and identify areas in which further training may be required.

Bespokes courses (both online and face-to-face) are offered to target areas such as methodological training, presentation skills, understanding the doctorate process, preparing for the viva and much more. 

All students will undertake a Training Needs Analysis with their supervisors upon commencing the programme, so that relevant opportunities for development can be identified.

Teaching opportunities

Research students in their second and third year of study are given the opportunity to apply to undertake paid undergraduate tutorial teaching.

The Graduate School provides training courses on teaching methods for research students involved in teaching.

Please note: The availability of teaching opportunities does depend on the subjects for which teaching is needed in any particular year, as well as the student's academic background. Because of this teaching opportunities cannot be guaranteed.

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 of Law has a multi-faceted approach to supporting students within the department.

All postgraduate research students are allocated a Postgraduate Student Advisor (PSA), who will be a member of academic staff with detailed knowledge of the doctoral programme and supervision process. Students will meet with their PSA regularly throughout their study period, with the purpose of the PSA acting as a source of confidential support for any problems you may be experiencing throughout your studies.

In addition to the PSA, students are welcome to contact either of the Co-Directors of the Research Degrees Programme for support at any point. The Postgraduate Programmes Manager for the School of Law is also a point of contact for students experiencing difficulties, and is responsible for providing all students with pastoral care during their studies. 

More generally, day-to-day adminsitrative and procedural queries can be directed to either the Postgraduate Programmes Administrator or the Postgraduate Programmes Manager, who provide constant support to students with all non-academic matters. 

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 the assistance and support needed to ensure that you succeed in achieving the doctorate. 


UK/EU students

Both the Arts and Health Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship Schemes have a socio-legal pathway. Home and EU students applying to undertake a PhD with the School of Law have the opportunity to apply for one of these Studentships which cover tuition fees and provide a stipend. Full details of both of these Studentship schemes, as well as internal school requirements for eligibility, can be found on the school's research funding opportunities webpage.

All students

The School of Law awards scholarships to PhD candidates on a yearly basis. All applications received before 31 January 2016 will be automatically considered for a scholarship, to fund the commencent of the PhD programme in October 2016.

Full details of the school's general scholarship can be found on our funding opportunities webpage.

The Graduate School also has an online funding database which advertises a number of scholarship schemes which may be appropriate.

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. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. 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.

Additional opportunities

Average starting salary and career progression

Over 94% of our postgraduates who were available for work entered employment or further study within the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for a Nottingham taught masters student is £23,082 with the highest salary being £48,000.*

According to the Postgraduate Premium report, there is a significant wage premium for those with postgraduate qualifications. Students who take on postgraduate study earn an average of £200,000 more over their working life than those without a postgraduate qualification.**

* Data is taken from known destinations of the 2013/14 leaving cohort of Nottingham home/EU postgraduates who studied full-time.

** Postgraduate Premium, The Sutton Trust - February 2013.

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.

Make an enquiry


School of Law

Law and Social Sciences Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD 

t:   +44 (0)115 951 5700
Social Science videos

Social Science videos


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
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry