Law - Research

Coming to UCD Law School creates the possibility of expert supervision by leading researchers in a wide variety of fields. We have the largest group of academic lawyers in Ireland and leading researchers of high international standing across many of the main fields of law including European Union law, commercial law, criminology, criminal justice and criminal law, regulatory studies, constitutional law and governance, human rights, administrative law, employment law, environmental law, intellectual property law, WTO law, legal history, agricultural law and private law.

The aims of the PhD programmes offered by the School of Law in UCD are:

•that candidates will conceive, design and give effect to a substantial and innovative piece of research which will expand the frontiers of knowledge. This is done by developing of a substantial body of work (leading to publication of a monograph or a series of academic articles);

•that candidates will be able to evaluate and synthesise new and complex ideas;

•that candidates will become effective communicators orally and through writing;

•that candidates will demonstrate knowledge and understanding
in their chosen field of legal study. They will develop advanced conceptual frameworks and provide systemic understanding of the problems they identify; and

•that candidates will be able to promote intellectual, social and cultural advancement in a knowledge-based society.

The doctoral programme in law is a structured programme. The core element in the programme is of course the carrying out of research leading to the completion of a thesis. Students are also required to complete a minimum number of taught modules (30 credits).

These modules include one compulsory course - Introduction to Advanced Research in Law - Optional courses which a student might choose to take include a course in qualitative and quantitative research methods, in substantive areas of law or in other areas where the student feels skills might be required to advance his or her PhD studies, for example languages or economics.

Students are assigned to a main supervisor before arrival at the Law School. The supervisor, in turn, is supported by a team of two other members of academic staff with expertise in the field of research. The supervisor plus the other staff members constitute your 'doctoral panel'.

At the end of the first year of the PhD programme each candidate is required to complete a transfer process in order to move from the first to the second stage of the PhD programme. This process provides an opportunity for students to review the progress they have made in the first year. It also enables the School of Law to ensure that all candidates are making sufficient progressing towards completion and accruing the transferable skills which PhD studies are designed to foster in a student - independence of research, originality of thought and competence in advanced research methodologies and skills.

Entry requirements

What are the admissions requirements?

Applications are invited from graduates with a degree (normally of a first class or very high 2.1 standard or equivalent). The degree should either (a) in law or (b) in an inter-disciplinary degree in which law was a major component. Holding a masters degree in law will normally enhance considerably an applicant's chances of acceptance on one of our PhD programmes.

Exemption from these requirements may be given to those with significant, relevant, practical experience. Such applicants should state clearly in their application why they feel their qualifications/experiences are appropriate for admission to the programme.

English Language Requirements for the PhD in Law Programme
•Applicants whose first language is not English must submit satisfactory evidence of competence in written and spoken English, i.e. overall IELTS 6.5 (including a minimum of 6.5 in the reading and writing parts and no part below 6.0) or 90 in the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum of 22 (reading) and 24 (writing) and no part below 20.) The test results must be less than 2 years old.
•International applicants should visit the UCD International Office website ( for information regarding our campus, location of UCD, visa information, registration and orientation.

Please note that admission to the programme is at the discretion of the Graduate Admissions Committee

To obtain further information please contact

Niamh McCabe
Graduate Programme Manager


PhD Research 3 Years FT / 6 Years PT
Master of Laws 1 year FT / 2 years PT


Fees 2018/19 FT €6,170 EU FT €11,885 Non-EU and PT €4,080 EU PT €7,955 Non-EU

Enrolment dates

Starting September & January

Post Course Info

Apart from being the highest level of academic achievement, obtaining a PhD is now regarded as an essential feature in the curriculum vitae of anyone aspiring to a career in academia. Many graduates of UCD Law School's PhD Programme are now themselves academics either in or outside Ireland. Graduates in recent years from UCD Law School's PhD programme have been appointed to academic positions in HEC Paris, the Queen's University Belfast, the University of Portsmouth, the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, University College Dublin, the University of Maynooth, Dublin City University and NUI Galway, among other institutions and universities.

Of course, PhD graduates don't just end up in academia. For those who decide that they would prefer a career in legal practice, we have an excellent Careers Development Centre here at UCD, designed to help you with information regarding future employment or studies. UCD hold a number of graduate events throughout the year including a dedicated law fair at which at which many of the big law firms are in attendance. The School of Law has a dedicated careers advisor on its academic staff, Dr. Oonagh Breen, and a staff member from the careers office will be in attendance at the School of Law on a number of occasions throughout the academic year. To see the full range of services offered by the careers office go to

More details
  • Qualification letters

    Master of Law / PhD

  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time

  • Apply to

    Course provider