Law’s Emotional Impact: The Overlooked Emotional Character of Legal Authority and the Rule of Law

The studentship will support a project that expands our understanding of the traditionally neglected emotional dimension of the law, either by investigating the emotional character of legal authority in general, or by studying the way in which the emotional character of the law is manifested in one or more specific areas of law. 

Start date
1 October 2021
3 years plus 1 year writing up. Please note that the funding only covers the first three years and not the writing up year.
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information

Funding covers:  

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee  
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21)  
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a.  
  • Personal Computer (provided by the department)  


The traditional view of the law as governed by reason alone—as neither directly involving, nor having any regard for, emotional responses and experiences—has become increasingly untenable, due to the emergence of a vibrant interdisciplinary research programme on law and the emotions. As the study of law and emotions matures and enters a dynamic and fruitful new phase, the Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy is in a unique position to foster research that uses our improving empirical and theoretical understanding of the emotions both to illuminate fundamental questions about the nature and authority of law, and to address urgent new challenges confronting legal institutions. 

The studentship will support a project that expands our understanding of law’s emotional dimension, either by directly investigating the emotional character of legal authority, or by studying the way in which the emotional character of the law is manifested in one or more areas of law—potentially including areas that have been relatively neglected in the law and emotions literature, such as constitutional law, administrative law, tort law, contract law, or the law of property. The project would be expected to draw on relevant scholarship from across disciplines; depending on its precise contours, these could include doctrinal legal scholarship, general jurisprudence, moral and political philosophy, the theory of the emotions, social psychology, and neuroscience. 

The primary supervisor, Dr Stephen Bero, holds an advanced degree in law and a doctorate in philosophy, and works on issues at the intersection of legal theory, moral psychology, and moral philosophy, with a particular focus on private law theory and the theory of the emotions. The secondary supervisor, Dr Ambrose Lee holds a doctorate in philosophy, and works on the relationship between our moral emotions, our everyday responsibility practices, and the nature and justification of criminal punishment. 

Eligibility criteria

Applicants may approach the project with their own research questions as relevant to the theme. Applicants from a variety of academic disciplines are invited to apply. A strong background in legal theory, philosophy, and/or relevant substantive areas of law is highly desirable. 
Applicants should hold a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree, along with a Master’s degree at a minimum of a merit level in law, philosophy, or another relevant discipline, from an approved university. Applications should show the ability for self-direction, excellent writing skills, and time management skills.

UK, EU or overseas students are welcomed,  but note that the tuition fee waiver only applies to the UK/EU tuition fees and does not cover the difference between that and the overseas tuition fee.

IELTS requirements: 7.0 or above (or equivalent) with 6.5 in each individual category. 

How to apply

To apply for this studentship: 

  1. Firstly apply for the Law PhD Programme.
  2. During your application, please mention your desire to apply to this studentship in order to be considered.   
  3. When the system asks you to add your ‘Research Project’ please copy and paste the project description previously provided under the ‘About’ tab.   
  4. You will need to provide transcripts for all HE qualifications and CV. 
  5. You will need to submit a research proposal that also includes an explanation of how your proposed research is relevant to the research project of this studentship. 

Interviews will be held shortly after the application deadline.  

Application deadline

Contact details

Stephen Bero
34 AB 05
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683032

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.