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Postgraduate Admissions

The PhD in Law is a full-time research degree and may be awarded after three to four years (including a probationary year) of supervised independent research on the basis of a thesis not exceeding 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography, table of contents and any other preliminary matter. While individual arrangements may vary considerably, PhD students may normally expect to receive one-to-one supervision once a month during the early stages of their research. Meetings may be less frequent thereafter.

A PhD thesis must take due account of previously published work on the subject and must represent a significant contribution to learning, through, for example, the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views. A PhD research proposal of between 2,000 and 3,000 words in length should be submitted at the time of application for consideration and approval by the Faculty's Degree Committee. In the first year of study, candidates are initially registered for the Certificate of Postgraduate Study in Legal Studies and are required to attend the weekly classes (in term-time) provided by the Faculty's Research Training and Development Programme, which aims to provide an introduction to advanced research techniques and methods in law and cognate disciplines.

Towards the end of May of their first year, candidates are required to submit three items for a progress review: a personal progress log, a 15,000-word thesis, and a short explanation of the proposed topic of the PhD. The work is formally assessed (normally by two teaching members of the Faculty) and students must attend an oral examination.

After this examination, the assessors' reports, along with a recommendation from the supervisor(s), are considered by the Faculty's Degree Committee whose members then decide whether the candidate be upgraded to doctoral status. The PhD registration date is normally backdated so as to include the year spent working on the Certificate.


Open Days

The Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. The event is suitable for those considering applying for postgraduate study at the University. It provides opportunities to meet with academics, explore the Colleges, and find out more about the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

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Key Information


3-4 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty of Law

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2021

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Dec. 3, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 3, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020

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