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MPhil/PhD research degree

The Birkbeck School of Law is a leading centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. Our successful graduates hold prominent academic posts in law schools around the world. We attract many international students with excellent undergraduate and Master’s degrees. We provide rounded academic training with opportunities to teach when positions are available; focused doctoral training; and assistance to disseminate research through conferences and publications.  Students are required to first register for an MPhil/PhD degree, and then once the requisite research standards are met, they are upgraded to be registered for the study of a PhD.  We expect full-time students to complete their degrees within 4 years (7 years part-time).

Supervision

  • MPhil/PhD students benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts. You can search the profiles of individual academics for the areas of research they are willing to supervise; or you can search by theme on the page MPhil/PhD research supervision areas.
  • Joint-supervision from among our academic staff is also available and encouraged.Your research can thus benefit from the knowledge and experience of multiple scholars.
  • A comprehensive programme of independent monitoring of each student's progress is in place.

Sharing and disseminating research

  • We offer financial assistance for conference attendance with a budget allocated to every student for each academic year. This continues for the period of full registration and for one additional year when the candidate is ‘writing up’ their thesis.
  • The Law School is the home of  Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought – and many of our students publish their work in this journal.
  • Postgraduate students host their own conference annually.  The most recent Postgraduate Conference was held on 25 and 26 May 2017.
  • For three decades the annual Critical Legal Conference has been a site for presenting innovative critical legal research. Birkbeck Law School are closely involved with this conference. Our academic staff and research students regularly attend and present papers at this international conference. The 2017 Critical Legal Conference 'Catastrophe' was held at the University of Warwick on 1-3 September 2017.

Scholarships and studentships

Key areas of research

  • Critical legal theory (jurisprudence)
  • Criminal justice
  • Law and humanities
  • Human rights
  • International economic law, justice and development

Research resources

  • Study resources include an induction programme for all postgraduate students, which offers seminars on methodology, regular research seminars, workshops, reading groups, and conferences. We are at the centre of the intellectual hub of Bloomsbury in London, and there are regular conferences at Birkbeck and other universities nearby. We also host an annual Writer in Residence whose seminars in June are primarily focused on our postgraduate research students.
  • Birkbeck Library has an extensive collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines such as economics, politics and sociology. For example, it provides access to over 17,000 electronic journals, most of which are available 24 hours a day via the Internet. Students can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.

How to apply – expression of interest

  • A PhD is the highest degree awarded by a university.  We strive to maintain very high academic standards and only admit students who are likely to make a scholarly contribution to their field.
  • In order to ensure research excellence, we can only admit students where we have a capacity to provide adequate supervision, and when we are confident of the students capacities and potential.
  • We only offer supervision in areas where members of the School are actively working. Our academic staff are engaged in critical and interdisciplinary legal research in multiple fields. Candidates should be conscious of fitting this profile when approaching the Birkbeck Law School to study for a PhD.
  • We encourage candidates who are developing a research proposal to contact a prospective supervisor from among our academic staff.  A candidate who is supported by a member of our academic staff is more likely to be successful in their application. Once you have identified a supervisor (and attempted to contact them) we ask that you send us a curriculum vitae and complete an Expression of Interest Form.
  • The Director of Postgraduate Research reviews your Expression of Interest Form to ascertain whether it meets our threshold for promise of quality research, originality, and potential to make a contribution to research in the field. They will also liaise with prospective supervisors to determine whether the School has capacity to offer supervision.
  • The School of Law welcomes visiting PhD students as part of our vibrant research community. Please contact our Postgraduate Team for more information: law-pgt-pgr@bbk.ac.uk