Skip to main content

How to apply

Edinburgh Law School welcomes outstanding applications from individuals wishing to join the PhD programme. You may apply to commence the PhD programme in September or January.

The PhD programme is available to study full time over three years or part time over six years (due to current UKVI regulations, the part-time programme is only available to UK and EU students). For further information please contact the PhD office at phd.law@ed.ac.uk

Before applying you should ensure that you meet our entry requirements and have all the relevant documentation ready to submit in support of your application. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

Apply now

The minimum admission requirement for the PhD programme a UK 2:1 honours degree in law, arts or social sciences, and a UK Masters degree with at least 60% in the taught section and 65% or more in the dissertation, or their international equivalents.

If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Check your degree

The majority of our applicants have studied law, but we are a comprehensive Law School covering a range of approaches to legal topics including social science, historical and philosophical enquiry; applications from non-law students with relevant studies and experience will be considered and if you require further guidance please contact us.

phd.law@ed.ac.uk

Students whose first language is not English must show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We do accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

The University runs a series of programmes for English Language Education, including a pre-sessional English Language Programme intended to strengthen your English Language skills before you start your programme of study.

Find out more about English language support offered by the University

  • The deadline for applying to commence a PhD in September 2019 is 30 June 2019 (4pm UK time).
  • The deadline for applying to commence a PhD in January 2020 is 31 October 2019 (4pm UK time).

Our applications are dealt with in a two-step process. Once all your documents are correctly submitted we aim to make a decision within 6 - 8 weeks.

Step one

Once you have submitted your application with all your supporting documentation, your application will be reviewed by an academic within the field in which you wish to study. Your written application will be evaluated against our rigorous admissions standards, and with a view to matching you to a suitable supervisor.

Step two

If we feel that your application is strong and if there is supervisory capacity in the field to which you have applied, your potential supervisor may arrange to discuss your application and your research proposal with you further by Skype. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about studying for a PhD at Edinburgh Law School.

It is usually only after this stage that you will be made an offer.

All applicants should supply the following supporting documentation:

  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study). If you are currently studying and awaiting a result, please ensure that your current interim transcript is included.
  • Degree certificates (for all awards to date) showing award of undergraduate degree at a level equivalent to 2:1 or higher
  • Degree certificate and transcript from your postgraduate study
  • Two academic references which need to be signed, dated (within the last two years) and on institutional letter headed paper. We cannot accept references from personal email addresses.
  • An English language proficiency test (if required - see below)
  • A research proposal – this should be no more than 2,000 (see below for further guidance)

Please note that applications (with all relevant undergraduate and postgraduate documentation uploaded) must be received by the deadline in order to be considered for entry. If you have not completed your postgraduate degree, you should provide interim transcripts at this stage.

Your research proposal should include:

Working title
What title, or title and subtitle, succinctly encapsulates your whole research topic?

Research questions
What are the key questions that you will ask that will enable your writing (or practice and writing) to be appropriately reflexive and interrogative?

Critical Framework and Theoretical Model
What is the context of your research proposal? What are your key concepts? How will you theorise, and position yourself in relation to, your primary sources? What secondary literature are you already aware of? Provide references to books, articles, websites, etc. 

Methodology
How do you intend to go about your research? Is your research predominantly doctrinal, theoretical, empirical? Do you need to engage initially in some form of field research, such as observing and interviewing practitioners or conducting practical experiments? What, if any, critical and expositional methods do you then intend to employ for the development, documentation and production of your written work and in the exploration of your research questions?

Research training
Above and beyond training that we will provide in generic research methods, do you need specialised training in practical and/or theoretical skills in order to carry out your research? For instance, do you need training in methods of qualitative analysis, or in the use of digital technologies? Also, will you need to travel to receive this training? For instance, will you need to intermittently attend workshops elsewhere?

Resources and implications
Do you need access to specialist literature? Do you need to engage in archival research or field work, and if so where, for how long and at what cost? If you cannot study without a scholarship or bursary, what sources of funding have you identified where you might be successful?

Bibliography
What, in alphabetical order, are the full bibliographical details of any references you have made above? 

We have a downloadable model form which you will find helpful.

If your supporting information is not in English, you need to provide a certified translated version of all documentation.

We aim to have a response for you within eight weeks of complete submission of evidence.

We expect our doctoral candidates to be living in Edinburgh during their studies, in order to fully participate in our dynamic training programme and to reap as much benefit as you can from our thriving research culture. 

The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

University of Edinburgh admissions terms and conditions

Apply now

Contact us

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

phd.law@ed.ac.uk

We recommend that you apply as early as possible. This is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the University's Edinburgh Global) and/or to apply for University accommodation.

The LLM by Research is available to study full time over one year or part time over two years (due to current UKVI regulations, the part-time programme is only available to UK and EU students). For further information please contact the PhD office at phd.law@ed.ac.uk

Before applying you should ensure that you meet our entry requirements and have all the relevant documentation ready to submit in support of your application. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

Apply now

The minimum basic admission requirement for the LLM by research degrees is UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, in law or a social sciences subject.

If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Click here to check your degree

You may not always need a prior qualification in law to apply for this programme.

Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.

Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We do accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

The University runs a series of programmes for English Language Education, including a pre-sessional English Language Programme intended to strengthen your English Language skills before you start your programme of study.

Find out more about English language support offered by the University

  • The application deadline for September 2019 entry is 31st July 2019.
  • The application deadline for January 2020 is 31 October 2019.

We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle and we monitor application numbers carefully to ensure we are able to accommodate all those who receive offers. It may therefore be necessary to close a programme earlier than the published deadline and if this is the case we will place a four-week warning notice on the relevant programme page.

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following with your application:

  • You must submit a reference with your application.
  • A research proposal
    Find out how to write a good research proposal
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study)
  • Degree certificates showing award of degree
  • An English language proficiency test (if required).

Once your completed application form has been received, together with supporting statements from your academic referees and other relevant documentation (including where relevant proof of proficiency in English), the School is committed to processing and considering your application speedily and efficiently.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  1. You may be offered a place unconditionally
  2. You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfill certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  3. Your application may be unsuccessful.

Candidates who do not fulfill the conditions specified, including our language requirements, cannot be admitted.

The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

University of Edinburgh admissions terms and conditions

Apply now

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any questions about applying to study an LLM by Research at Edinburgh Law School.

phd.law@ed.ac.uk