Research course

Law and Social Change at Birkbeck

Institution
Birkbeck, University of London · School of Law
Qualifications
MPhil/PhD

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in law.

Months of entry

January, October

Course content

The Law School’s 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 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.

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.

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
    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