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PhD in Law

The Law PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) programme at Queen Mary University of London is one of the largest Law PhD programmes in the UK with more than 160 research students. The School of Law is ranked seventh in the UK for Law, based on the percentage of our staff rated 3* & 4* in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. There are several research programmes and units within the School of Law, each one focuses on a particular area of law and brings together staff with similar research and teaching interests.

As a PhD student at the School of Law, you will be part of a diverse and cosmopolitan research community as students come to Queen Mary from all over the world.

I have been exposed to one of the richest and most extensive programmes for research degrees in law in the country. In addition to a flourishing and vigorous research environment with a truly international reputation for excellence, the CCLS and the School of Law also have a reputation for taking great care of its students, showing them a friendly face and being concerned with their individual needs. PhD student, Fan Yang, China. Read more...

Research Culture

We regard our PhD students as a vital part of our research culture and encourage students to participate in the life of the School of Law. Students are invited to attend regular staff research seminars at which faculty members and visiting scholars present their work in progress.


Supervision is available in virtually all fields of law. All supervisors are qualified members of staff with their own major research projects and publications. Search our staff list to find staff in your proposed field of research.

Research training

Research training is offered through a series of seminars at which students are required to present their work, and through a formal research methods training course run at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Participation in these courses is a compulsory part of the first year of research. Additional courses are provided by the college on different aspects of the PhD research process.

Progress Review

All new students will enrol onto the PhD programme. Each student will be assessed at the six-month point to determine if their progression is satisfactory. Full-time students will be required to submit a 3000-word piece of writing for their initial six-month review. Their supervisors will produce a progress report based on this piece of work and the student’s performance in general, including attendance at mandatory training. If that report is satisfactory the students will continue on the PhD programme. If the report is unsatisfactory then the student will be given a chance to remedy this as a number of academic targets will be set which must be met or the student will be de-registered.

The normal period of registration is three to four years; full-time students must complete within four years and part-time students within six years. All students (both part-time and full-time) are required to reside in or around the London area for the duration of their doctoral studies.


The thesis, which must be presented in accordance with University of London regulations, is read by at least two examiners appointed by Queen Mary University of London, who also examine the candidate orally. A PhD thesis must form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality, shown either by the discovery of new facts or by the exercise of independent critical power. The length of a PhD thesis is a maximum of 100,000 words. An MPhil thesis is 50,000 words. College regulations require that each student is normally allocated two supervisors and you may expect to see your primary supervisor every two weeks or so during term-time in the initial stages of your research.

How to apply for the PhD programme

The School of Law requires additional documentation that is not specified on the online application form. Make sure you read our detailed 'How to Apply' instructions.

Apply online - choose the appropriate link in the right hand column of the page.

Contact us

For general enquiries about the application process contact Gareth Skehan, PhD Admissions Administrator

School of Law,
Queen Mary; University of London,
67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London WC2A 3JB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8214
Fax: +44 (0)20 7882 8101

What our PhD students say...

Ana Georgina Alba Betancourt, Mexico

Ana Georgina Alba Betancourt

PhD Student – Arbitration of Intellectual Property

“After qualifying in Mexico and having worked as a Law Clerk, I wanted to pursue my postgraduate studies abroad, since my main interest is in the international business law field. I heard about Queen Mary from one of my colleagues on the Master in Bucerius Law School, Germany, and after doing some research I discovered that Queen Mary is one of the best Universities in the UK, especially in my fields of interest. I am now finishing the first year of  research in Arbitration of Intellectual Property, thanks to the sponsorship of the Mexican government. During my first year, Queen Mary organised two intensive weeks of research seminars at IALS which I found very interesting and helpful. Once a week we also attended a seminar at Queen Mary, which I considered very important, especially at a very early stage of the research, when you don't really know how and where to start your research, or even how to coordinate it with your supervisor. PhD life can be very lonely, but with the activities that Queen Mary organises, you have the chance to meet up with the other PhD students, whom could be doing something related to your research, which is great for exchanging ideas. I think that interacting with fellow PhD students enriches your own research and I'm very glad that at QM this is encouraged, together with the support of the supervisors.''

Wen Li


"As one of the truly global financial centres, studying in London will provide you unique opportunities to expand your vision, widen your horizon, as well as enhancing your educational background both academically and practically to your future career in the globalisation era.

The PhD of law programme in school of law Queen Mary, known as the largest one among its kindred programme in the UK, is absolutely the right choice for those who wish to deepen their legal knowledge in a very specific area, for at least three reasons: firstly, the school of law brings together leading figures from truly every area of commercial law and public law, which makes interdisciplinary legal studies becoming possible, myself have benefited greatly from talking and discussing with scholars from different fields of law.

Secondly, first-class legal scholars will guide you heuristically and creatively by doing regular one-to-one supervision, which is an extremely good chance to refine your legal thinking and to stimulate your academic inspiration. Thirdly, thousands of law firms, some of which are the best in the world, host their head offices and branches in London, which means it is more likely for you to be employed and work with excellent players in your field after your PhD course."

Luke McDonagh, Ireland


PhD - Intellectual Property Law 2010

"I am currently a PhD candidate researching under the umbrella of Intellectual Property law, specifically focusing on the intersection between Copyright law and the folk traditions of Ireland and Britain, especially those associated with the Celtic languages. I chose Queen Mary because of its excellent reputation for research, especially in the area of Intellectual Property. I was able to meet my supervisor, Mr Jonathan Griffiths, beforehand, and we discussed my potential topic in depth. We both felt that it was worthwhile.

Additionally, I was given the opportunity to teach as part of the Graduate Teaching Award, and I have had to learn the skill of balancing my own research with my teaching responsibilities. The teaching staff and my supervisor have provided me with support and advice about finding this balance.  

Since I joined Queen Mary in September 2007, there have been regular research seminars where myself and the other PhD students can meet and share ideas in a formal session, headed by Professor Kate Malleson.  

At this stage it's difficult to say what my plans are after the PhD, but I am enjoying the teaching as well as the research, so at the moment I am planning for an academic career..."

Fan Yang, China



'As a PhD student at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University of London, I have been exposed to one of the richest and most extensive programmes for research degrees in law in the country. In addition to a flourishing and vigorous research environment with a truly international reputation for excellence, the CCLS and the School of Law also have a reputation for taking great care of its students, showing them a friendly face and being concerned with their individual needs.

Each research student is allocated two supervisors, where possible, and you may expect to see your primary supervisor weekly during term-time in the initial stages of your research. All supervisors are qualified members of staff with major research projects and publications of their own. Scholarships, bursaries and opportunities for research students to gain teaching experience are often available.

In addition to all the excitement and amazement the capital city of London can offer, here you can enjoy a truly international community.'

Research Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
MCIArb (London), Barrister (England & Wales)
Member of the Practice & Standards Committee Arbitration Sub-Committee Working Group (PRC Representative), Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Laíse Da Correggio, Brazil



“I joined Queen Mary in September 2007 after being advised by colleagues that had studied there in the past and it has proven to be the right choice.

At Queen Mary I receive the personal and logistical support needed to conduct my research, which is concerned with competition law and policy in Brazil, particularly the creation of a policy for abuse of dominance cases. The academics are very approachable and members of staff are very helpful. I have regular and productive meetings with my supervisors. PhD students also have the support of the Department for the creation of seminars and conferences, where we can share our thoughts with other academics and peers.

One of the main reasons why I will be able to complete the PhD in the three-year envisaged period, is that PhD students receive methodological guidance from the outset, and we meet for special events and on a regular basis at Queen Mary’s location in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, given that it represents a stimulating academic environment, which offer the comforts of campus life with the prestige of world-class education.”

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