Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur

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For over 85 years Birmingham Law School has made a major contribution to teaching and scholarship. Our academic staff are amongst the country's most eminent legal scholars and provide a supportive research culture that encourages and facilitates research activities.

As well as providing expert supervision from an experienced member of staff, the School cultivates a friendly and supportive environment for its community of research students. We currently have over 70 students engaged in research degrees in the School.

We regard postgraduate research students as playing an important part in maintaining and strengthening the research traditions of the School, and we are committed to increasing the number of such students and the range of the research which they are undertaking. It is not without significance that several members of the School’s academic staff were themselves postgraduate students here.

Doctoral Training Partnership studentships available

The University of Birmingham is part of the Midlands4Cities AHRC DTP and the Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP, both of which are offering postgraduate research studentships to campus-based UK/EU applicants across each DTP's partner institutions. AHRC awards are available across arts, law and humanities disciplines, and ESRC awards are available for a range of social science disciplines including Applied Linguistics, Area Studies (African Studies), Economic and Social History, and Socio-Legal Studies.

Find out more

Matthew Ayibakuro

Matthew Ayibakuro

PhD Law

“PhD study affords you the time and space to plan your research and skills development needs on your own and at your pace. There are also a wide range of support services on campus especially with the graduate school, readily available to meet your training and other needs had been invaluable.”

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The 2014 Research Exercise Framework (REF) confirmed our excellent reputation for doctrinal, empirical and theoretical research, particularly in the fields of commercial law, criminal law, criminal justice, judicial administration, European law, public law, human rights, international law, private law, restitution, conflicts of law, international economic law, comparative law, health and social welfare, socio-legal studies and legal theory. Many of our research students have obtained academic careers in the top law schools in the country. 

The University of Birmingham was also ranked as a top 100 law school in the world in the 2018 QS World Rankings. These rankings are compiled annually to help prospective students to identify the leading universities worldwide in a particular subject.

  • The PhD programme requires you to research and write a thesis of 80,000 words with supervision from academic staff, the work should make an original contribution to knowledge. Full-time students are expected to complete their work within three years. This programme can also be studied by Distance Learning see whether distance learning is an option for you.
  • The MPhil programme requires you to research and write a 60,000-word thesis under the supervision of a member of academic staff. Full-time students are expected to complete their work within two years.
  • The MJur programme requires you to research and write a 40,000-word thesis under the supervision of a member of academic staff. Full-time students are expected to complete their work within one year.

Why study this course

  • Academic expertise - PhD supervision from internationally renowned researchers
  • Seminars and conferences: Invited to attend various staff seminars and guest lectures during the academic year
  • Employability - Birmingham is one of the top universities in the UK for graduate employment

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2019.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2019-20 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate funding database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

A first class or upper second class UK honours degree in law (or a subject related to the proposed area of research) or equivalent.

International students:

All international qualifications which are equivalent to a UK honours degree will be considered. Learn more about international entry requirements

If your first language is not English you must provide an English language qualification. Recognised qualifications include:

  • IELTS: 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band

How to apply

Application deadlines

Applications are accepted at any time though we strongly encourage students to begin their studies at the start of the UK academic year (September).

Before you make your application

Full details of our requirements can be found on our Applications page

As part of the application for admission onto our MJur, MPhil and PhD programmes, you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study. For more information, please see our guidance on how to write a research proposal

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Members of Birmingham Law School are active in research and publication, and many of their books have become standard works on numerous areas of law. Academics working in the School are well known for carrying out important applied legal research, much of it commissioned by the government and other public bodies.

Below are the areas of research expertise we offer, with links to our academic staff:

Banking Law, Banking Regulation

Civil Law (including French & German Law)

Commercial Law & International Commercial Law

Common Law

Comparative Law

Conflict of Laws; Private International Law

Constitutional Law; Administrative Law

Contract Law

Corporate Governance

Criminal Evidence and Justice

Criminal Law (inc. Criminology; International Criminal law; Criminal Justice; Restorative Justice)

Development, Law and

Disability Law

Environmental Law

European Union Law

Family Law

Gender, Sexuality and Law

Global Legal Studies

Health Care Law; Medical Law; Mental Health Law; Mental Capacity; Bioethics

Human Rights; Civil Liberties

Intellectual Property

International Law

International Economic Law

International Sale of Goods

International Trade Law

Judicial Administration (operation of courts and judicial appointments)

Jurisprudence; Legal Theory

Law and Religion

Legal Education

Legal Responses to Terrorism

Property Law; Land Law

Restitution

Socio-Legal Studies; Law and Society

Tort Law

Transnational Justice

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Postgraduate Research students have the opportunity to benefit from extensive careers advice and employability support in their time in the Law School. Those interested in a qualifying as a lawyer have access to a wide range of events and activities, as we have regular visits from major law firms and barristers’ chambers. All of our careers and employability activities are organised through the Law School’s Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER).

For those interested in pursuing a career in academia, we have an annual lecture on that route. In addition, we offer a specific session exclusively for postgraduate researchers, which includes advice on developing one’s career profile and ultimately securing a job in higher education. Students are also able to seek individual advice on their career progress. The Careers Network of the University of Birmingham provides information and advice on opportunities for employment available to graduate students and offers consultations on CV writing and interview skills.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.