Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD , MPhil
Programme length Four years full-time;
seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date Most students will start in September 2017, however other dates can be considered. Please contact the senior postgraduate admissions administrator to discuss the options available.

Programme overview

PhD study is substantially different from other types of postgraduate work as each candidate devises their own independent research project. At the University of Bristol Law School, comprehensive research training is provided by expert academics, who also offer guidance and supervision of your research project. If you are undertaking socio-legal research, initial research training will take the form of the MSc Socio-Legal Studies programme, which is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council.

As a PhD Law student you will become part of the school’s primary unit system, which provides support for research students, and you will be invited to participate in the Law School's staff seminar programme. There may also be opportunities to undertake some part-time teaching within the school. Travel and conference funding is available for research students.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2017/18

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships. Applicants may also apply for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund.

The Law School may also have a limited number of graduate teaching assistantships. AHRC funding and University studentships may also be available. Details can be found on the Law School website.

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

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree in law (or equivalent) or a Master's qualification. 

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.

Research groups

A wide variety of subject areas are covered in the Law School. This reflects a range of different approaches to legal research - doctrinal, socio-legal/interdisciplinary and theoretical. The school has a strong portfolio in human rights, housing, governance and regulation, criminal justice, the legal profession, and family law and practice.

The school usually has 50 research postgraduates at any one time, working in a wide variety of subject areas and adopting a range of different approaches to legal research.

Research in the school is facilitated by: a generous policy of study leave, teaching relief and payment for student research assistants; a system of research pairing to assist with project development, review of work in progress and effective dissemination of research; and a vibrant programme of staff seminars, with roughly equal division between internal and external contributions.


The PhD offers useful preparation for several different careers. The first of these is academic work, particularly if the dissertation or parts of it are published in well-respected academic journals. The ability to plan, research and write a sophisticated dissertation, including an ability to conduct detailed doctrinal analysis, think in broad theoretical terms or engage in empirical research, can provide a firm foundation for a career in the academy.

A second possible career is that of working for an NGO or policy organisation, drawing on skills in research and writing, which are invaluable for work of this kind. A third possibility is working within governments, again building on analytical, doctrinal or empirical research skills developed through the PhD, which incorporate both an ability to undertake rigorous research and to see the bigger picture. Finally, some students choose to enter the legal profession, carrying with them a rich understanding of legal principles and practice. 

Staff profiles

Dr Diego Acosta Arcarazo LLB(Madrid), MA(Stockholm), PHD(Kings College London), (Senior Lecturer in Law), EU migration law; migration law and policies in South America.

Dr Ardavan Arzandeh LLB(Bristol), LLM(Bristol), PhD(Bristol), (Lecturer in Law), International commercial law.

Dr Katie Bales BA(Northumbria) PhD(Northumbria), (Lecturer in Law)

Prof. Lois Bibbings Professor of Law, Gender and History, (Professor), Criminal law; gender and law; gender studies; historical studies; human rights; literary studies; medical law; social policy.

Ms Nina Boeger LLB(Lond), LLM(Florence), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Comparative law; EU law.

Professor Jonathan Burnside MPhil (Cantab), MA(Cantab), PhD(Liv), (Professor of Biblical Law), Criminal justice; criminal law; Jewish law.

Dr Luke Butler LLB (Hons), LLM (European Law), Pg Dip (Professional Legal Skills), PhD, (Lecturer in Law), Contract law, trusts law and commercial law; international trade law; regulatory dimensions of government procurement contracts.

Professor Patrick Capps BA (Hons), MA(Sheff), PhD(Bristol), (Professor of International Law), Jurisprudence; public international law; sociology of law.

Mr Andrew Charlesworth LLB(Warw), (Reader in IT and Law), E-commerce law; information technology law; intellectual property law; privacy law.

Dr Jennifer Collins BA(Oxon), BCL(Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), (Lecturer in Law), Criminal law criminal law theory criminal justice European human rights law

Professor Joanne Conaghan BA Hons(Oxon), BCL(Oxon), (Professor of Law), Feminism and gender, including legal aspects of violence against women; jurisprudence and legal theory; labour law; tort.

Professor David Cowan LLB(Soton), (Professor of Law and Policy), Government; housing; regulation.

Professor Malcolm Evans OBE, MA, DPhil(Oxon), (Professor of Public International Law), Human rights; international law, particularly law of the sea and religious liberty; prevention of torture.

Prof. Michael Ford LLB, MA, BSc, (Professor of Law), Employment law, labour rights, social rights, EU social law, discrimination, human rights.

Professor Paula Giliker BA, MA, BCL(Oxon), PhD(Cantab), (Professor in Comparative Law), Comparative law; contract law; tort law.

Professor Steven Greer BA(Oxon), MSc(Lond), PhD(Belf), FAcSS, FRSA, (Professor of Human Rights), Human rights; legal and political theory.

Professor Jonathan Hill LLB(Birm), LLM(Cantab), PhD(Cantab), (Professor of Law), Private international law; property law.

Dr Emma Hitchings LLB, PhD(Wales), (Senior Lecturer), Family law.

Professor Paddy Ireland BA(Kent), (Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law), Business law; corporate governance and theory; critical commercial law; law and political economy; legal theories and philosophy; regulation.

Dr Judy Laing LLB, PhD(Leeds), (Reader in Law), Criminal law and justice; medical and mental health law.

Professor Antonia Layard BA(Oxon), MPA/MPH (Columbia), LLM(Lond), DPhil (Oxon), (Professor of Law), Environmental law; land use; law and geography; the ‘law of place’.

Professor Judith Masson BA(Cantab), PhD(Leic), (Professor of Socio-Legal Studies), Child law; family law; international child law.

Professor Morag McDermont BA(Oxon), LLM(Bristol), PhD(WEngland), (Professor of Socio-Legal Studies), Administrative law; housing law and policy; regulation and risk; social theory.

Dr Sheelagh McGuinness BA (Galway), LLB (Galway), MA (Manchester), PhD (Manchester), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Health Law Regulation of Production Gender and Law

Professor Harry McVea LLB (Belf), PhD(H-W), (Professor of Law), Company law; financial services; securities regulation.

Dr Jule Mulder PhD, LLM, LLB, (Lecturer in Law), Employment, European law, equality, comparative law

Professor Rachel Murray LLB(Leic), LLM(Bristol), PhD(WEngland), (Professor of International Human Rights), Human rights, particularly national human rights commissions and African systems; public international law.

Dr Michael Naughton BSc, PhD(Bristol), (Reader in Sociology and Law), Foucauldian theory; human rights; miscarriages of justice; penal policy; social harm; social justice.

Professor Tonia Novitz LLB(Hons) First Class, BCL (Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), (Professor of Labour Law), International and EU law; jurisprudence and legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights; labour law.

Professor Ken Oliphant BA, BCL(Oxon), (Professor of Tort Law), Compensation for incapacity.; English, European and comparative tort law.

Dr Margherita Pieraccini MA(Aberd), MPhil(Cantab), PhD(N'cle), (Lecturer in Law), Common pool resources; conservation law; environmental law; legal pluralism; social-ecological resilience.

Dr Devyani Prabhat LLM(NYU), PhD(NYU), (Lecturer in Law), Human rights law; public law; socio-legal studies.

Professor Tony Prosser LLB(Liv), (Professor of Public Law), Privatisation; public law; regulation.

Dr Athanasios Psygkas BA(Thess), LLM(Thess), LLM(Yale), JSD (Yale), (Lecturer in Law), EU; comparative public law (constitutional and administrative).

Dr Oliver Quick LLB, PhD(Wales), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Criminal law; medical law; professional regulation; risk and trust.

Professor Julian Rivers BA, LLM, Miur, MA (Cantab), PhD, (Professor of Jurisprudence), Law and religion; legal and constitutional theory; public law.

Dr Yvette Russell BA(Auck), LLB(Auck), LLM(NYU), PhD(Kent), (Lecturer in Law), Feminist theory queer theory poststructuralist philosophy critical legal studies criminal justice criminal law sexual offences.

Dr Albert Sanchez-Graells PhD (Eur), LLB, BA (Hons), (Senior Lecturer in Law), EU economic law EU internal market law and policy EU and UK public procurement law and policy EU and UK competition law and policy law and economics.

Dr Janine Sargoni BA, PGDL, LPC, LLM, MSc, PhD (Bristol), (Lecturer in Law), Regulatory theory environmental law innovation and climate-related technologies.

Dr Gwen Seabourne BA(Cantab), BCL(Oxon), PhD(Bristol), (Reader in Legal History), Legal history; medical law and ethics

Professor Keith Stanton BA, BCL(Oxon), (Professor of Law), Banking law; contract; professional negligence; tort.

Dr Philip Syrpis MA(Cantab), DPhil(Oxon), BCL, (Reader in Law), EC law; labour law.

Dr Georgina Tsagas LLM(London), PhD(London), (Lecturer in Law), Corporate Law

Professor Charlotte Villiers LLB(Hull), LLM(Lond), (Professor of Company Law), Company law; employment law; Spanish law.

Ms Chris Willmore LLB(Bristol), (Senior Academic Fellow), Countryside access; environmental law; forensic science; local government.

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year; early application is advised. The deadline for funded applications will be February 2017 (the ESRC and University of Bristol funding application deadline is still to be confirmed).

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

  • 15% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 40% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 35% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 10% 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.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

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

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


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

Edit this page