Law PhD

Why choose this course?

Our PhD in Law aims to train the next generation of legal thinkers, law reformers, policy advisors, political activists, and academics. Our emphasis in the School of Law on combining theory and practice makes us unique in the UK, and a world-class centre for deep and creative legal research.

Surrey’s specialisms in law offers you the opportunity to explore a diverse range of areas. We have particular research strengths in legal philosophy and legal theory, neuroscience and law, criminal law, Chinese law, international economic law, Roman legal history, environmental law, health sciences and law, artificial intelligence and law, human rights law, and public international law. Our unique concentration of expertise in legal philosophy and legal theory is largely unparalleled worldwide.

Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their research and are experienced legal practitioners, providing consultancy to law firms, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses around the world. As a School of Law doctoral student, you’ll be part of this thriving community of researchers engaged in a wide range of projects, and – depending on your area of study – will be able to join a subject or research group as well as participating alongside academic staff in the activities of the School of Law.

The School also enjoys excellent links with local, national and international legal communities. You’ll benefit from stimulating roundtables seminars, workshops and lectures delivered by distinguished academics, eminent judges and law practitioners.

What you will study

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. You will work on a structured, supervised programme of research in one of the areas of law in which we have expertise.

You’ll be able to develop your teaching skills, as well as the ability to think theoretically and provide innovative practical solutions to legal problems. We encourage our postgraduate research students to present work and discuss ideas in both formal and informal settings. We can also support you intellectually and financially to present and exchange ideas and discuss your research in an international setting.

In your first year, you’ll 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’ll 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.

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 48 months October
PhD Part-time 96 months October
Stag Hill

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. 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 students

  • Katrien Steenmans, PhD Law

    "There have been many opportunities for collaboration during my PhD in different formats and forums – through workshops, conferences, talks, and publications."

    Read more

  • Chantal Frindall, PhD Law

    "I chose to study at Surrey as it has a beautiful location and campus. From the moment I applied to Surrey I had brilliant correspondence with the academics and all my queries were always dealt with promptly."

    Read more

  • Erasmus David Taylor

    Professionally it helped in that I got an unbelievable experience in working on one of the biggest cases in international criminal law at the United Nations, working alongside some of the best lawyers in the world.

    Read more

Discover

  • Find out how our Doctoral College can support your research career

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  • Stay up to date with our latest research news

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  • Explore how our research is making a difference to the world

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Research themes

  • Artificial intelligence and law
  • Chinese comparative law
  • Criminal law and neuroscience
  • European Union law
  • European Union law and healthcare law
  • Health sciences and law
  • Human rights law
  • International economic law
  • Kantian legal philosophy and other intellectual historical approaches to legal problems, such as terrorism, human rights and refugee law
  • Language and law
  • Mental health law and neuroscience
  • Methodology of intellectual legal history
  • Philosophy of constitutional law
  • Philosophy of contract law
  • Philosophy of criminal law
  • Philosophy of humanitarian law
  • Philosophy of neuroscience and law
  • Philosophy of tort law
  • Philosophy of WTO
  • Public international law
  • Roman legal history and private law
  • Rule of law and transnational law
  • Rule of law in China
  • Socio-legal approaches to mental health and law, sex crimes, sentencing
  • Technology and law
  • Terrorism and law
  • The logic of war
  • The nature of law
  • The normativity of law
  • The philosophy of law and economics
  • Topics in international public law, such as state succession

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Law.

Research facilities

The research centres at the School of Law are a core part of our research activities, and provide an important platform for the intellectual development of our research students.

We currently have 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
  • The Surrey International and European Law Research Group.

You’ll get office space, PCs, access to major electronic databases and a wide range of online research tools and resources. You’ll also have access to the latest e-resources and to our Library and Learning Centre facilities.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to 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.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

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

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.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Fees

Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time October To be confirmed £16,000
Part-time October To be confirmed £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 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Funding and studentships

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Studentship

Supervisor(s) To be confirmed
Application deadline 18 March 2018
Opportunities across all subjects

How to apply

Research proposal

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

Writing sample

Applicants should submit an academic essay or other writing sample, written in English. If the text is an excerpt, please preface the text by a short note that puts the writing sample in context. The essay will be assessed for:

  • general understanding of the relevant area and its main problems
  • the ability to analyse and assess, and to construct and defend arguments
  • the clarity, structure and coherence of expression.

Contact us

Admissions enquiries

+44 (0)1483 682 222

admissions@surrey.ac.uk

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