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Law - Research

The Law School, rated 4th in the UK for research in Law REF 2014 and first for impact in Law, is committed to developing its research profile and environment. The Head of School is Prof Eugene McNamee and Associate Head of School is Amanda Zacharopoulou (Acting Head of School Spring Semester 2018-2019). 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.


Each year, a limited number of funded PhD scholarships are available for law students. The School also encourages applications from self-funded students or students funded from other sources, to start in October or, possibly, at other times of year. 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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

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.

Additional information for International applicants may be found

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.


PhD Research
You can study for a PhD on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis and by the end of your programme, you will have produced a body of work that makes a contribution to knowledge in your chosen field.

We have various routes to obtaining a PhD - for example, in some areas you can submit a practical element as part of your submission, such as a piece of art or a musical composition.

The MPhil programme is studied over a 2 year period on a full-time basis or 4 years on a part-time basis.

We would recommend that you contact one of our academic staff whose interests align with your own to discuss your intended research prior to submitting an application.

Careers or further progression

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.

Further enquiries

Contact supervisor
Professor Rory O'Connell
+44 28 9036 6693



Research facilities and groups
Ulster University Law Clinic
The School of Law is home to the Ulster University Law Clinic ( – an in-house, public facing law clinic staffed by postgraduate students on the LLM Clinical Legal Education under the supervision of Law School staff. The Clinic is led by Dr Grainne McKeever (member of the UK Social Security Advisory Committee) and Dr Esther McGuinness.

The Ulster University Law Clinic has established an international reputation for its work in access to justice. It has won several national prizes for its innovative approach to research-driven education and pro bono work, providing free legal advice to the public in social security and employment law. In 2014 the Clinic was nominated for a global Innovating Justice award, on the basis of its strong potential to deliver concrete justice results, and the Head of the Law School was awarded a 2014 Fulbright Public Sector Award to develop the Clinic's innovative model of meeting unmet legal need through innovative graduate legal education.

Clinic staff have secured funding for socio-legal research, and have also secured prestigious Department of Justice scholarship funding for the LLM in Clinical Legal Education. Law School and Clinic staff members are especially keen to support research projects in the areas of socio-legal studies, access to justice, social security, employment, and judicial review. The work of the Clinic is underpinned by the research of our PhD students, working on areas including welfare reform and devolution, children's rights and special educational needs tribunals, and poverty and the social control of women.

Our PhD students have published several working papers and peer reviewed publications; secured socio-legal research funding; and won a number of prizes and awards for their work, including the highly prestigious Modern Law Review Scholarship, awarded to Orla Drummond for her research on child participation in special educational needs tribunals.

Clinic staff and students have been active in their engagement with policy makers, community groups, pro bono networks and the legal professions, and the work of the Clinic and its staff and students continues to have significant influence on access to justice developments in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Application date


Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in good time to discuss draft research proposals. 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.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies. 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, is available at the link below.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

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.

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2020/21

Postgraduate Information Session 26 March 2020
Register at:

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