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 2021

Programme overview

This programme will develop your knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena. It provides sound research training if you are planning to progress to a PhD or 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.

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.

For further information about the Law School, visit our Why Bristol Law School? web page, which includes short videos. Please also view our Socio-Legal Research Centre web page for more information.

Fees for 2021/22

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time (two years)
Overseas (including EU): 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 2021/22

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.

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 also 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 web pages for more information about the support and opportunities we provide during your studies.

How to apply
Application deadline:

29 July 2021 for all applicants. Early applications recommended; places may fill before the deadline. As students from different regions tend to apply at different points in the application period, applications from some regions may close earlier in the year.

The closing date for ESRC studentship applications will be in January 2021, 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.

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Get in touch

Contact details

Mrs Stephanie Dimberline Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 394 0062/63 Email:

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