MSc Socio-Legal Studies

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Awards available MSc
Programme length One year full-time
Two years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Part time study requires daytime weekday attendance.
Open to international students Yes
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

This programme develops your knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena. It provides a sound research training for students wishing to proceed to a PhD or a career in socio-legal research through the study of different research methodologies across the social sciences and law. You will pursue independent, in-depth study in socio-legal studies, engaging in lively debates in a thriving research culture across social sciences and law.

A range of units is offered, suitable for graduates from any discipline who have an interest in the way law works (or fails to work) in society. Methods of assessment may include essays, presentations and/or written examinations, depending on the optional subject(s) chosen, together with the dissertation.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

Core units

Three units in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies:

  • Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Two units in the Law School:

  • Advanced Legal and Socio-legal Research Methods
  • Social and Legal Theory

Optional units

You will take optional subjects up to a value of 30 credit points, chosen from across most of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and beyond. Units designed especially for the MSc offered by the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies are usually worth 20 credit points each. Units in the Law School are taken along alongside LLM students, and are each worth 30 credit points. 


The dissertation accounts for 60 credit points. It should build on the optional units and develop the approaches taken in the core units. You will be expected to demonstrate an ability to:

  • frame a research question and use an appropriate methodology in response to that question;
  • organise discussion and select material pertinent to the topic;
  • show appropriate higher-level knowledge and understanding of the background context.

Entry requirements

An upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent), in law, social sciences, or another relevant discipline. A background in Law is not essential as training will be given during the programme. Recognised Prior Learning is currently not accepted. Previous or professional experience is not required.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile B
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.


The MSc in Socio-Legal Studies offers useful preparation for a number of careers. The first of these is that of academic work, often after the completion of a doctoral degree. The emphasis on practical research training, on the ability to plan, research and write a sophisticated dissertation, and on the ability to think in broad theoretical terms about law in society, provides an ideal introduction to academic research.

The skills of research and writing, which are central to the programme, are ideal preparation for working for an NGO or other organisation working for legal or social change. A third possibility is working within government, again through the development of rigorous research training skills and the ability to engage in broader social understanding.

Finally, some students choose to enter the legal profession, carrying with them a broader understanding of the way law operates within society.

How to apply
Application deadline:

1 September 2017

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 41% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 44% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 14% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Get in touch

Mrs Stephanie Dimberline Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 5357 or +44 (0)117 954 5225 Email:

University of Bristol Law School
Wills Memorial Building
Queens Road
Bristol BS8 1RJ


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