Law - Research
Each year, a limited number of funded University PhD scholarships are advertised usually in December with a February deadline; we also participate in the NINE and Northern Bridge partnerships and scholarship opportunities are available through those.
We encourage applications from self-funded students or students funded from other sources, to start in October or, possibly, at other times of year.
According to the UK's independent review of research excellence, 46% of the Law unit's research has been rated as world-leading (REF2021). In REF2021 Law submitted case studies on real-world impact, including work on embedding dignity in the Scottish social security system; and as well as monographs and journals articles, the Law submission included an award-winning film (It Stays With You).
The Head of the Law School is Dr Esther McGuinness; the Research Director is Prof Rory O'Connell.
The School espouses a commitment to socio-legal and multidisciplinary studies as well as supporting doctrinal research.
It welcomes applications for post-graduate study by research in a wide range of areas including commercial law, intellectual property law, law and media, law and technology, law and medicine, socio-legal studies, access to justice, social security, employment, legal innovation, administrative justice and judicial review.
The School provides an extremely supportive environment for post-graduate students in terms of supervision, methodological training, ongoing financial support for conference attendance/ fieldwork etc., and financial support for postgraduate led research initiatives.
UK PhD programmes are normally three-year, research intensive projects in which the relationship with a small team of supervisors is key. All prospective students are therefore encouraged to contact a staff member with relevant expertise in the area of the proposed course of research for advice on honing the academic content of their application.
The unit of assessment includes the work of the School of Law, Transitional Justice Institute as well as the Ulster University Law Clinic and Legal Innovation Centre.
For research on Law and Social Justice and the work of the Ulster University Law Clinic, see Law and Social Justice.
For research on Law and Innovation and the work of the Legal Innovation Centre see Law and Innovation.
For research on transitional justice, and more broadly human rights, public international law, gender and transition and conflict resolution, see the Transitional Justice Institute.
Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in good time to discuss draft research proposals. We have drafted guidance on developing a research proposal which you may find helpful (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/578374/Putting-a-proposal-together.pdf).
For general enquiries please contact the Research Director for Law Prof Rory O'Connell or one of our PhD coordinators, Prof Cath Collins, Dr Thomas Hansen.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master's Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
Get additional information for International applicants at https://www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/apply/international-students
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.
How to Apply
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.
Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application (see "Application Date Weblink" below).
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system (see "Application Weblink").
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
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Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.