Postgraduate study

Law

Awards: PhD, LLM by Research

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Law

Edinburgh Law School is renowned for its research excellence. We strive to produce work that has real-world reach and influence. Our postgraduate research body is key to the School’s research activities and we work hard to ensure that our research students are fully engaged with staff and projects across all our legal disciplines.

If you are considering following an academic research career, Edinburgh Law School can provide a supportive and inspiring environment to help you take your first steps towards carving out your own research specialism.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework we were ranked 4th in the UK for the breadth and quality of our research. We have research excellence in a vibrant range of fields, spanning an exciting spectrum of law, socio-legal studies and criminology.

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
LLM by ResearchHistory and Philosophy of Law1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2017/18

PhD Law

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 100,000-word thesis, 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 community of around 100 postgraduate researchers and will be an integral part of the intellectual life of the School.

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 and HM Prison Service.

We offer excellent research training and support for PhD students through the Doctoral Research Training Programme. In the first year of the programme, PhD students take part in a structured course covering legal research methods and transferable skills (such as presentation skills), with the option of taking more specific training as required by the project (such as empirical research skills). The focus of training in the second year is on supporting the external dissemination of work. In the third year, all students participate in our Student Presentation Series while they also work on refining their thesis in readiness for submission.

As a doctoral student at Edinburgh Law School, you will be assisted by two supervisors who are experts in their field of study and who are carefully chosen to provide you with the best possible support to develop your thesis. PhD supervision is available across an extensive range of legal and criminological subjects. If you have a particular PhD topic in mind, you can find out if we have a potential supervisor for you by looking at our research fields online:

LLM degrees by Research

The LLM by Research presents an excellent opportunity to focus on a period of dedicated research, and is a fantastic bridge to doctoral study. We offer two LLM by Research programmes:

LLM by Research in Law

As a student on this programme, you will consolidate and build on the legal research and writing skills you acquired during your undergraduate legal studies, by planning and completing a 30,000-word dissertation. You will work independently but under specialist academic supervision, within your chosen field of law.

The topic of your dissertation can be chosen from any of the School’s legal research fields in which we have supervisory expertise, including commercial law, criminal law and evidence, criminology, EU law, IP, media and technology law, international law, legal history and legal theory, medical law, private law, and public law.

The programme will enhance and develop your ability to manage and engage with both primary legal sources and academic literature on your chosen topic, present critical and engaged legal arguments, and maintain the coherence of those arguments over a substantial piece of written work.

The framework of the LLM by Research allows you time and intellectual space to work in your chosen field, and to refine and develop this initial phase of the project for future doctoral work.

The programme does not have formal coursework elements, other than initial training seminars alongside PhD students. This makes the LLM by Research a particularly attractive option for those wishing to undertake postgraduate research on a part-time basis, while pursuing legal practice or other employment.

LLM by Research in Legal Research

The LLM in Legal Research is an innovative programme designed to offer you the opportunity to undertake in-depth, guided study in an area in which you wish to specialise.

Through core, taught courses you will develop an understanding of the basics of legal research, legal scholarship and research methods, while the dissertation allows you to undertake a piece of supervised independent research in which to practice these skills. Your dissertation topic may be chosen from any of the Law School’s research fields in which we have supervisory expertise, including commercial law, criminal law and evidence, criminology, EU law, IP, media and technology law, international law, legal history and legal theory, medical law, private law, and public law.

You will take 80 credits worth of courses (semester-long courses are 20 credits and full-year courses are 40 credits), chosen from the wide selection offered by Edinburgh Law School.

This is supplemented by a 15,000-word independent dissertation, carried out under academic supervision, which forms the bulk of the programme.

  • PhD Law: A UK 2:1 honours degree in law, arts or social sciences, and a UK masters degree with a strong mark in the dissertation, or their international equivalents.
  • LLM by Research: a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law, or a social science subject.
  • LLM by Legal Research: a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law, or another humanities or social science subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Postgraduate Office (Research)
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2010
  • Email: phd.law@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Law (Postgraduate Office)
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL
Programme start dates Application deadlines
10 January 2018 10 November 2017
10 September 2018 30 June 2018
10 September 2018 31 July 2018

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit two references with your application.

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Office (Research)
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2010
  • Email: phd.law@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Law (Postgraduate Office)
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL