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Entry requirements

Good honours degree in law or a related discipline from the humanities or social sciences.

Months of entry

January, October

Course content

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. MPhil/PhD researchers in law at Birkbeck benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts, classes in legal theory and research and presentation skills, seminars and extensive library facilities. The unifying themes of our research are social and legal theory and interdisciplinary study. Accordingly, we welcome applications both from lawyers and non-lawyers who wish to undertake research within the broad range of substantive areas of national, European and international law.

We also offer financial assistance for conference attendance, comprehensive independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress, and postgraduate student representation on the School of Law board. Ours is a vibrant community of researchers that organises, with the support of the School, a series of workshops, reading groups and a work-in-progress group, as well as frequent social events.

Concentrating on a number of clearly defined research areas in which our expertise is internationally recognised, we aim to:

  • specialise in distinctive and innovative research
  • establish and foster critical and multidisciplinary scholarships, by building links with other disciplines and by introducing the scholarly values and methods of the humanities and social sciences into the discipline of law
  • promote a culture of joint research, publications and other forms of collaboration among our staff
  • pursue a programme of national and international links.

Our key areas of research are:

  • Race, gender and culture
  • Law and humanities
  • Policy, practice and activism
  • Regulation, risk and surveillance
  • Human rights.

At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two.

Highlights
  • Research students in the School of Law are an important part of our research culture. We have succeeded in recruiting very high-quality research students and the number of UK and overseas PhD students has increased fivefold since 2001. This reflects the School's growing reputation as a training ground for early-career academics working from critical and socio-legal perspectives.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top three in London in the latest Times Higher Education REF rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • The PhD programme is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's leading research council addressing economic and social concerns. The PhD is tailored to students' needs and can include generic modules from our postgraduate Master's programmes such as Research Frameworks and Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods.
  • In-house seminars, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Interdisciplinary Research Training Network provide additional training. Students have received awards from the AHRC, British Academy, Overseas Research Students Awards, ESRC and Natural Environment Research Council, and internal Birkbeck and Law School Studentships.
  • Reading groups are encouraged, focusing on particular writers such as Agamben, Foucault and Deleuze as well as issues such as critical international law, feminist theory, Latin American culture and politics and Continental philosophy. There is an informal doctoral work-in-progress group open to staff and research students, allowing the latter to develop their presentation skills and invite general comment on projects. There are a number of other events designed to support research students. Additionally, an annual postgraduate conference is held to showcase current doctoral research, and our academic staff and research students regularly attend and present papers at the annual Critical Legal Conference. The upgrade viva examination, whereby students progress from MPhil to PhD registration, gives students experience of a more formal arena in which they have to defend their work to academic staff.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Fees and funding

PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

The School of Law attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil/PhD
    part time
    24-84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Name
Student Advice Service
Email
studentadvice@bbk.ac.uk
Phone
+44 (0)20 3907 0700