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Research degrees

Edinburgh Law School offers expert supervisors in a wide range of subject areas for PhD study. As a doctorate student you’ll join a community of around 100 PhD students and will be a vital part of the intellectual life of the School.

Students studying in the library

Edinburgh Law School is ranked 3rd in the UK for law for the quality and breadth of our research by Research Professional, based on the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). 

80% of our research outputs are rated as either world-leading or internationally excellent and we are recognised as having a 100% world-leading research environment in the REF2021 exercise. You can therefore be confident that you will be joining a dynamic centre of research excellence when you begin your research career with us.

Edinburgh Law School’s PhD programme seeks to train the future world leaders in law and criminology research and is available to study full time over three years or part time over six years (UK and EU students only).

A PhD at Edinburgh Law School involves undertaking independent research, culminating in the submission of a 100,000 word thesis, which should be an original piece of work that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in a chosen field of study and contains material worthy of publication.

We offer a supportive environment for PhD study to help you to develop the skills to communicate your findings to a wide variety of audiences. You will benefit from:

  • supervision by a team of experts in your chosen field of study
  • a PhD training programme which provides a basic foundation in legal and criminological research methods, as well as key transferable skills
  • opportunities to undertake individual advanced training that is necessary for a particular research project
  • the chance to integrate with a community of established researchers and benefit from a rich and diverse intellectual environment.

Find out more about training and support

In this video playlist Dr Ali Malik talks about his experience of studying for a PhD at Edinburgh Law School and the impact of his thesis.

Dr Leonardo Cofre Perez, Chile

Dr Leonardo Cofre Perez completed his Law PhD at Edinburgh Law School. In this video, he talks about his experience studying the PhD and what it's like to live in the city of Edinburgh.

PhD supervision is available across an extensive range of legal and criminological subjects. If you have a particular PhD topic in mind, you can find out if we have a potential supervisor for you by looking at our areas of research.

Research areas

By becoming a PhD student at Edinburgh Law School, you will be joining an ambitious and successful community of scholars.

Our PhD students go on to pursue careers in a variety of fields. Many of the former students have gone on to undertake an academic career in law or criminology at leading universities around the world. Others have also gone on to work in private practice, for national governments or for international organisations.

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any questions about studying a PhD at Edinburgh Law School.

The LLM by Research is an excellent opportunity to focus on a piece of dedicated research and can be a bridge to further doctoral study.

Student in the library

The degree of LLM by Research aims to consolidate and build on legal research and writing skills acquired through undergraduate legal studies by enabling students to plan, undertake and complete a 30,000 word dissertation, working independently but under specialist academic supervision, within their chosen field of law.

The topic of your dissertation can be chosen from any of the School's legal and criminological research areas.

Find out more about our research subject areas

The programme will enhance and develop your ability to manage and engage with both primary legal sources and academic literature on your chosen topic, present critical and engaged legal arguments, and maintain the coherence of those arguments over a substantial piece of written work.

The framework of the LLM by Research allows you time and intellectual space to work in your chosen field, and to refine and develop this initial phase of the project for future doctoral work.

The programme does not have formal coursework elements, other than initial training seminars alongside PhD students. This makes the LLM by Research a particularly attractive option for those wishing to undertake postgraduate research on a part-time basis, while pursuing legal practice or other employment.

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any questions about the LLM by Research.