A good honours degree in law.
Months of entry
Our full-time MPhil/PhD programme in Law and Social Change is offered under an international consortium arrangement led by the University of Roma Tre. The programme provides the opportunity to obtain a double doctoral qualification at Birkbeck and at the University of Roma Tre, spending one year of your doctoral research programme at the University of Roma Tre. You will also participate in annual consortium activities, involving students and academic staff from the other four universities that are members of the consortium: University College Dublin, University of Lyon 2, University of Luxembourg and the University of Vilnius. Entry into this programme is limited to a maximum of three students per year for each of the consortium members.
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 and at the University of Roma Tre 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.
We also offer financial assistance for conference attendance, comprehensive independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress, and postgraduate student representation on our board. Ours is a vibrant community of researchers that organises a series of workshops, reading groups and a work-in-progress group, as well as frequent social events.
This international doctoral programme aims at studying and better understanding the impact of social changes arising from the increasing exposure of national legal systems to transnational influences. The main focus of the programme is on the governance of transnational markets and on the interplay between transnational regulation and European law. Increases in global trade and investment flows, the opening of new markets, the development of new technologies (in particular ICTs and biotechnologies), have led in many areas to significant shifts in the axis of regulation: from the domestic to the transnational; from the public to the private; from the formal to the informal. Such developments in the regulatory arena raise a set of important questions, which deserve careful analysis. They may be grouped along two major dimensions: (a) phenomenology, features, and consequences of transnational private and public regulation; and (b) impact of transnational regulation on national legal systems.
The research conducted as part of this programme will contribute to a deeper understanding of transnational regulation and assess its impact on the development of national and European law. The programme attributes great importance to the cultural dimension of legal phenomena, understanding the law as part of a tradition. You should, therefore, be capable of engaging in synchronic and diachronic comparisons. Interdisciplinary approaches are welcomed.
At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year.
- Research students 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 our 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 2021 Research Excellence Framework with 83% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
- 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 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.
Birkbeck 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
- full time48 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details
- Student Advice Service
- +44 (0)20 3907 0700