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.
Start date September 2018

Programme overview

This programme develops your knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena. It provides sound research training for students planning for 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 of socio-legal topics, and engage in lively debates in a thriving research culture across social sciences and law. 

Please visit our Socio-Legal Research Centre webpage for more information. 

In this degree 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 subjects chosen, along with the dissertation.

Lots more information about the Law School is available on our 'Why Bristol Law School?' webpage, which includes short videos.

Fees for 2018/19

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-time (two years)
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

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 2018/19

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 also be found on the 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 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.

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.

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, for example in academia, 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 excellent preparation for working for an NGO, or for another organisation that works 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.

Please visit our Careers and Employability and Student Society webpages for more information about the support and opportunities we provide during your studies.

How to apply
Application deadline:

1 August 2018. Early application recommended; places may fill before the deadline.

The closing date for ESRC studentship funding applications for 2018/19 is midday on Tuesday 30 January 2018.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa 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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