Law PhD

My supervisors have been everything that any research student could dream of and for this I am very grateful to them. They have made my decision to come to Surrey worthwhile.

Walters Nsoh PhD Law

Why choose this course?

The University of Surrey is a global university with a world-class research profile and an enterprising spirit. Inventive and forward-thinking, its heritage shows a recurring theme of going its own way, doing things differently – and achieving notable results: The University was named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

The University’s School of Law aims to become one of the UK’s top 10 law schools, and there are firm strategic plans in place to support this growth and ambition. We aim to expand our academic programme and our strong commitment to scholarship by continuing to hire exceptional research staff and to attract excellent research students by providing a stimulating and supportive environment for postgraduate study. Members of the School of Law academic staff have international reputations for research and are experienced legal practitioners, providing consultancy to law firms, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses around the world. The School also enjoys excellent links with local, national and international legal communities.

What you will study

As a School of Law doctoral student, you will be part of a thriving community of researchers engaged in a wide range of projects, usually joining a subject or research group as well as participating alongside academic staff in the activities of the School of Law.

Through a variety of approaches, from doctrinal to socio-legal, contemporary to historical, single jurisdiction to comparative, we will help you challenge ideas, hone your skills and develop the hallmarks of a leading researcher.

We will also provide you with office space, PCs, access to major electronic databases and a wide range of online research tools and resources.

Meet our alumni

Learn more about our completed PhD students.

Programme content

Our programme is a traditional UK-style PhD. You will undertake a structured, supervised programme of research into one of the areas of law in which we have expertise.

In your first year, you will take up to three modules of core research methods training, alongside advanced research training modules that further support your particular research. These include a range of modules focused on developing the practical skills required for subsequent careers.

Research training is selected from the University’s excellent offerings, and is supplemented by law-specific seminars. Our PhD researchers also organise and run their own annual research conference and attend research group seminars.

At the end of your time as a PhD researcher at Surrey you will be expected to submit an extended thesis for examination. This thesis will demonstrate your ability to pursue scholarly research which makes an original contribution to knowledge. You will also be expected to answer questions on your thesis and your research in a viva voce examination.

Research topics

The School of Law currently has three research centres and two research groups: The Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy, the Sir James Fitzjames Stephen Centre for Criminal Law and Criminalisation, the Centre for Chinese Law and Socio-Legal Studies, the Environmental Regulatory Research Group and the Surrey International and European Law Research Group. The School particularly welcomes doctoral project proposals in the following areas:

  • Environmental Law
  • Corporate and Commericial Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Health Sciences and Law
  • Chinese Comparative Law
  • International Economic Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Public International Law
  • European Union Law
  • Tax Law
  • Legal Philosophy and Legal Theory

Please see our Research page and browse our People page for more information on the School of Law staff and research students.


You may be considered for a Faculty postgraduate research studentship to cover fees and an annual stipend. To be considered for a studentship, you first need to apply for a PhD. For more information on deadlines and funding, please see the Entry Requirements section on this page.

Related research areas

Related departments/schools

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 30-48 months September, January
PhD Part-time 60-96 months September, January

Entry Requirements

Our expectation is that you hold at least a 2.1 Bachelors degree along with a Masters degree at a minimum of a merit level in Law, or other relevant discipline, from an approved university.

If you are unable to offer these qualifications, you may still be considered for admission if you hold a first-class Bachelors degree in Law, or other relevant discipline, from an approved university, or a professional or other qualification deemed to be appropriate and equivalent.

Before you apply

Before applying, please download our research proposal guidance document for information on submitting a suitable research proposal.

The latest you can apply and be considered for a studentship is 4pm 22nd March 2017. After this deadline, applications will still be considered on a case-by-case basis until 4pm 1st June 2017, but please note that applying after the March deadline is likely to significantly diminish the chances of receiving an offer and applications during this extended period cannot be considered for studentship funding.


Please note that we will only be reviewing applications once the deadline has passed on 22 March 2017. If you do not hear from us in the meantime, please do not assume you have been unsuccessful.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

Non-native speakers of English will normally be required to have IELTS 7.0 or above (or equivalent) with 6.5 in each individual category. Please note, applications will only be considered once they have met this requirement.

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time £4195 £16,000
Part-time £2100 £8,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2017 entry should please note that annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Doctoral College

Our Doctoral College supports researcher excellence and employability across the doctoral and early career stages of the researcher journey.

Find out more

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.

The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Our academic staff

Our students