Postgraduate study

Law PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Law

The Edinburgh Law School is a vibrant, collegial and enriching community of legal, sociolegal and criminology researchers and offers an excellent setting for doctoral research.

Our doctoral researchers are key to the School’s research activities, and we work hard to ensure that they are fully engaged with staff and projects across all of our legal disciplines.

You will find opportunities in the following fields:

  • company and commercial law
  • comparative law
  • constitutional and administrative law
  • criminal law
  • criminology and criminal justice
  • environmental law
  • European law, policy and institutions
  • European private law
  • evidence and procedure
  • family law
  • gender and sexuality
  • human rights law
  • information technology law
  • intellectual property law
  • international law
  • labour law
  • legal theory
  • media law
  • medical law and ethics
  • obligations
  • contract delict
  • unjustified enrichment
  • property, trusts and successions
  • Roman law and legal history
  • socio-legal studies
  • tax law

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
PhD6 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

Doctoral researchers enjoy full access to the University’s research skills training which the Law School complements with a tailored research and wider skills programme.

The training programme in Year One (six seminars) includes workshops on research design, writing and research ethics.

The focus of the training programme in Year Two and Three is on supporting the dissemination of work with opportunities to present work.

Opportunities are also available for research exchanges through the League of European Research (LERU) network, as well as an annual research training exchange programme with KU Leuven.

Doctoral researchers are able to draw upon a fantastic range of resources and facilities to support their research.

The Law School has one of the most significant academic law libraries in the UK which offers outstanding digital resources alongside a world-leading print collection (almost 60,000 items including a unique collection for Scots law research).

You will also have access to the University’s Main Library which has one of the largest and most important collections in Britain, as well as the legal collection of the National Library of Scotland.

Upon completion of the PhD, the majority of our students progress to postdoctoral research or lecturing and teaching roles.

Recent graduates have also found employment in roles as diverse as prison governor, solicitor and policy adviser for organisations including:

  • the International Criminal Court
  • The Hague
  • Anderson Strathern
  • HM Prison Service

Edinburgh Law School can offer expert supervision across an exceptional range of subject areas for PhD study.

A PhD at Edinburgh Law School involves undertaking independent research, culminating in the submission of a thesis of up to 100,000 words, which should be an original piece of work that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of study and contains material worthy of publication.

As a doctoral student, you will join a diverse community of around 100 postgraduate researchers and will become an integral part of the intellectual life of the School.

  • PhD Law: a UK 2:1 honours degree in law, arts or social sciences, and a UK Masters degree with at least 60% in the taught section and 65% or more in the dissertation, or their international equivalents.

The majority of our applicants have studied law, but we are a comprehensive Law School covering a range of approaches to legal topics including social science, historical and philosophical enquiry; applications from non-law students with relevant studies and experience will be considered and if you require further guidance please contact us.

Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 7.0 in the writing component and 6.5 in each other module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 25 in writing and 23 in each other module)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 185 in writing and 176 in each other module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Research Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2022
  • Contact: phd.law@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Law (Postgraduate Research Office)
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 30 June 2021
17 January 2022 30 September 2021

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Research Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2022
  • Contact: phd.law@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Law (Postgraduate Research Office)
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL