Law (MPhil / PhD)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017 or January 2018

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

Up to four years full-time or seven years part-time

Attendance

Regular meetings with your supervisor(s)

Other entry years for this course

2018

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

MPhil/PhD Law students benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts and secondary supervisors, classes in legal theory and research and presentation skills, seminars and extensive library facilities. We offer financial assistance for conference attendance where appropriate, a comprehensive programme of independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress, and postgraduate student representation on the school board. In addition, our present body of researchers constitutes a vibrant community that organises, with the support of the school, a series of workshops, reading groups and a work-in-progress group, as well as frequent social events.

We encourage applications for research in the areas listed below, but it is important to stress that we can only offer supervision in areas where members of the school are actively working.

Areas of research interest include: legal theory; public law; language and law; law and literature; law and film; law and development; gender, sexuality and law; socio-legal studies; environmental law; company law; legal history; medical law and ethics; criminology; European law; intellectual property; insurance law; media law; law and bioethics; constitutional theory and national identity; human rights; criminal justice; feminist legal theory; post-colonial theory; legal aesthetics; law and political economy; race and law; child law; access to justice; international economic law; international refugee law; law and multinational corporations.

Highlights

  • Research students in the School of Law are an important part of our research culture. We have succeeded in recruiting very high-quality research students and the number of UK and overseas PhD students has increased fivefold since 2001. This reflects the School's growing reputation as a training ground for early-career academics working from critical and socio-legal perspectives.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top 3 in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 REF rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • The PhD programme is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's leading research council addressing economic and social concerns. The PhD is tailored to students' needs and can include generic modules from our postgraduate Master's programmes such as Research Frameworks and Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods.
  • In-house seminars, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Interdisciplinary Research Training Network provide additional training. Students have received awards from the AHRC, British Academy, Overseas Research Students Awards, ESRC, Natural Environment Research Council and internal Birkbeck and Law School Studentships.
  • Reading groups are encouraged, focusing on particular writers such as Agamben, Foucault and Deleuze as well as issues such as critical international law, feminist theory, Latin American culture and politics and Continental philosophy. There is an informal doctoral 'work-in-progress group' open to staff and research students, allowing the latter to develop their presentation skills and invite general comment on projects. There are a number of other events designed to support research students. Additionally, an annual postgraduate conference is held to showcase current doctoral research. The upgrade viva examination, whereby students progress from MPhil to PhD registration, gives students experience of a more formal arena in which they have to defend their work to academic staff.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good honours degree in law or a related discipline from the humanities or social sciences.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £2226 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4195 pa
    Part-time international students: £6050 pa
    Full-time international students: £11995 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    The School of Law attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    The School of Law is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. It provides an exciting and innovative environment for a wide range of research with a strong theoretical and policy focus. The School publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal ThoughtRead more about our research.

    Study resources include an induction programme for all postgraduate students, which offers classes on methodology, and regular research seminars, workshops and conferences.

    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, which are available online 24 hours a day. You 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.

    Birkbeck is also home to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) and the Centre for Law and the Humanities.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course.

    At Birkbeck School of Law, we concentrate on a number of clearly defined research areas in which our expertise is internationally recognised. We aim to:

    • specialise in distinctive and innovative research
    • establish and foster critical and multidisciplinary scholarships, by building links with other disciplines and by introducing the scholarly values and methods of the humanities and social sciences into the discipline of law
    • promote a culture of joint research, publications and other forms of collaboration among our staff
    • pursue a programme of national and international links.

    The unifying themes our research are social and legal theory and interdisciplinary study. Accordingly, we welcome applications both from lawyers and non-lawyers who wish to undertake research within the broad range of substantive areas of national, European and international law.

    Examples of current research topics include:

    • Real-world dynamics of commercial-contractual relations
    • The orthodox, neo-liberal approach to land tenure reforms in sub-Saharan Africa
    • The history of copyright law in Latin America
    • A critical defence of the Rule of Law
    • The quest for legitimate governance and social justice: the emerging trend in postcolonial African political philosophy
    • Pharmaceutical ethics
    • The ephemeral art form of dance and copyright law.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply throughout the year. Entry months for the programme are October and January of each year.

    With your application you must send a research proposal of 300-1000 words containing a statement outlining the main themes of your proposed research project, a section addressing questions of methodology, an overview of the literature in the field and a statement relating to the project's intended contribution to legal scholarship.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in law is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the school.

    Read more about the expert supervision we offer in a wide range of legal subjects, from administrative law and bioethics through criminal law and development to legal theory and refugee studies.