MSc Socio-Legal Studies

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Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
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.
Start date September 2022

Programme overview

The MSc in Social Legal Studies presents an exciting opportunity to explore the role of law in society at a critical time in history - and cultivate a deep understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena.

On the programme you will develop rigorous research skills and the ability to engage in broader social understanding, providing a sound basis to progress to a PhD or a career in socio-legal research through the study of different research methodologies across the social sciences and law.

The MSc has an emphasis on practical research training, on the ability to plan, research and write a sophisticated dissertation - and to think in broad theoretical terms about law in society.  In addition to presenting an ideal introduction to academic research, it also offers excellent preparation for working for NGOs and other organisations that works for legal or social change or within government.

On the MSc you will pursue independent, in-depth study of socio-legal topics, and engage in lively debates in a thriving research culture across social sciences and law. The range of units offered makes this master's programme suitable for graduates from any discipline who have an interest in the way law may work in society.

The programme is one of five South West Doctoral Training Partnership interdisciplinary pathways delivered by world-leading researchers from the University of Bristol, University of Bath, University of the West of England and University of Exeter.

Find out how you can do more with law at the University of Bristol Law School. Please also view our Socio-Legal Research Centre web page for more information.

Virtual open week

This programme was covered in our Law (MA) and Socio-Legal Studies (MSc) webinar.

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Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time (two years)
Overseas: full-time

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

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 2022/23

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 (MSc and PhD) and +3 (PhD) ESRC scholarships. Information about funding and scholarships can be found on the University of Bristol Law School fees and funding web pages.

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

Programme structure

You will study three core units in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies and two core units in the Law School.

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

Methods of assessment will depend on the optional subjects chosen, but could include essays, presentations or written examinations.

The dissertation accounts for 60 credit points. It should build on the optional units you have chosen 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.

Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for our MSc in Socio-Legal Studies.

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 not currently accepted. Previous or professional experience is not required.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.


See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile B
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement


The MSc in Socio-Legal Studies offers useful preparation for a number of careers. Foremost, the MSc is the academic basis and preparation for students choosing the 1+3 PhD programme (with three years of doctoral training following completion of this interdisciplinary master's degree). This is achievable if a student is awarded ESRC funding. It also provides an ideal introduction to working for NGOs and other organisations that work for legal or social change or within government. Some students choose to enter the legal profession, carrying with them a broader understanding of the way law operates within society.

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Find out how to apply

Expected application closure date

The closing date for non-funded places is 1 July 2022. Early application recommended; places may fill before the deadline.

The closing date for ESRC studentship applications will be in January 2022, exact date to be provided when available. For further details on applying for ESRC funding, please visit the SWDTP website.

Please view the Law School fees and funding web page for further information.

Virtual events

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Find out more about studying with us or request a prospectus.

Get in touch

Contact details

Enquiries Team Phone: +44 (0) 117 394 1649 Email:

School website: University of Bristol Law School

International students

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

REF 2014 results

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

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


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