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 2018
PHD Part-time 96 months January 2019
PHD Part-time 96 months October 2018

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).

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.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here. The University of Surrey is also an IELTS test centre.

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 Oversees fees
Full-time October 2018 £4,260 £16,000
Part-time January 2019 £2,130 £8,000
Part-time October 2018 £2,130 £8,000

For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

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.

Studentships

We have a host of partly and fully-funded studentship opportunities available.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences studentship

Funding information:
This studentship includes a tuition fee waiver (home/EU or international) and a maintenance stipend at current research-council rates for a full-time PhD.

Development of novel radiation-grafted powder ionomers for use in high performance alkali membrane fuel cells

Funding information:
Funding status: Directly Funded Project (European/UK Students only) EU/UK  fees for 3 years: 2018-19 level £4195 Standard stipend for 3 years: 2017-18 level £14,553 £5k bench fees across three-year project

Integrated Control Systems for Safe Automated Driving in Emergency Conditions

Funding information:
The studentship will cover fees and a stipend for Home and EU applicants.

Metal Halide Perovskites for Photovoltaic and Light-Emission Applications

Funding information:
Applicants must have a masters degree or first class undergraduate (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics or Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the time of start of the PhD. The post is open for home-fee qualifying applicants.

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