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PhD Programme in Law: FAQs

The opportunity to undertake advanced legal research at one of the world's best law schools.

If your question is not answered below, please contact us.

FAQs for Visiting Research Students can be found further down this page.

1. When can I apply to the PhD?

Applications open in October for the following academic year. We encourage you to apply as early as possible, to ensure that all the required materials have been received by the PhD selectors by the application deadline. 

2. Is there a deadline for applying?

The deadline is 1 December 2023.

3. How do I apply?

Full details of how to apply are provided on the Graduate Studies page.

4. Research proposal guidance

The strength of an applicant’s research proposal is one of the primary ways by which we identify promising candidates. Your proposal should be no more than 1,500 words in length. You should state your research topic as accurately as possible, and should address the following questions in the proposal:

1. What is your general topic?

2. What questions do you want to answer?

3. What is the key literature and its limitations?

4. What are the main hypotheses of the work?

5. What methodology do you intend to use?

6. What are your case studies, if any, and what are your case selection criteria?

MPhil/PhD applications that are received without a research proposal that addresses these questions will not be considered.

Your research proposal must be your own work. We recommend that you proofread your proposal carefully before you upload it, and that you make sure to upload the final corrected version. Please ensure that each page of your research proposal bears your name in a header or footer. Finally, you must stick to the word limit, as the PhD selectors are not required to read documents that exceed the word count.

5. How do I apply for funding from LSE?

LSE Law School aims to ensure that all students have adequate funding for their studies, typically through the award of an LSE PhD Studentship. There is no separate application process for LSE PhD Studentships, as funding awards are considered alongside admission to the doctoral programme. Further information on funding opportunities at LSE more generally is available from the Financial Support Office.

6. What are the admission requirements?

Our normal minimum entry requirement is a completed LLM degree or other masters-level qualification, awarded with an average mark of 70% (distinction/first class honours) or equivalent. Exceptionally, we may admit students who do not meet this requirement, where there is strong, alternative evidence of your suitability for our PhD programme.

Although we accept applications from students who have not yet completed their LLM or equivalent degree by the application deadline, we give priority within the admissions process to students who have already obtained the required grade by this date. Strong candidates who are currently completing their LLM/other masters degree may therefore wish to defer their application until they have received the requisite grade. Offers of admission and funding that are made to applicants who are currently undertaking their LLM/other masters degree are made on a “conditional” basis, meaning that the offer cannot be confirmed until the minimum entry requirement has been achieved. Conditional offers must be confirmed by the end of July of the year of entry at the latest. This means that current master students who will not have their final grades/transcript by the end of July (including students on the LSE LLM degree) are not eligible to apply to the PhD programme, unless they already hold another masters degree with the requisite grade.

It must be emphasised that meeting the minimum entry requirement does not guarantee entry. The PhD programme is heavily over-subscribed, meaning that the large majority of applicants who meet this requirement each year do not receive a place. We select students based on a variety of factors, including past academic performance, motivation for doctoral study, the viability of the applicant’s research proposal and its anticipated contribution to legal scholarship, the availability of suitable supervisors, and the diversity of the incoming PhD cohort, including diversity of subject-areas.

7. Can I apply if I do not have a law degree?

The LSE PhD programme in Law provides students with the opportunity to undertake innovative advanced legal research. Students without a law background may apply to the PhD programme, but they must demonstrate a high level of academic competence in areas closely related to their proposed research. Each application is considered on its own merits. 

8. Is there an interview as part of the admission process?

Yes, in most instances we hold a brief interview with shortlisted applicants as part of the admissions process. This is typically conducted by an applicant’s potential supervisors, it takes place virtually (e.g. over Zoom), and it lasts about half an hour. The purpose of the interview is to further assess both the applicant’s motivation for doctoral study and the feasibility of the proposed research project. No preparation is required for the interview, although we recommend that you look over the material that you have submitted with your application beforehand.

9. What is the application process and fees?

See Application Process & Fees. BAME applicants of UK nationality may wish to apply through the ACE PGR Initiative.

10. Can I do the PhD part-time?

Yes. The programme can be taken over an 8-year period. However, part-time students must reside in the UK, attend weekly seminars (especially in their first year), and meet with their supervisors regularly. Applicants should indicate in their personal statement that they wish to be considered for part-time study. Such applicants may also wish to contact one or more potential supervisors in advance, to gauge their willingness to take on a part-time PhD student, as not all supervisors wish to do so. 

11. Is there a residency requirement?

Yes. You must live in London or within easy reach.  This applies to full time and part time students.

12. Do I need to approach an academic member of staff to supervise before applying?

No. Applicants may wish to approach potential supervisors at the Law School to gauge their availability in a particular year and/or their willingness to supervise a specific research topic. The research interests of Law School academic staff can be found at Co-supervision with staff members from other LSE departments or research centres is also possible, though more unusual. You should indicate in your application if you have discussed your proposed research with any member of LSE academic staff and the name of that person. Potential supervisors are unable to give detailed feedback on draft research proposals.

However, you are not required to contact potential supervisors before applying, and doing so provides no advantage in the admissions process. If your application is successful, two academic members of staff will be appointed to supervise you. 


Visiting Research Students

13. Is there a deadline for applying?

There is no deadline to apply for the Visiting Research Student Scheme but you are encouraged to apply as far in advance of your proposed visit as possible.

14. How do I apply for funding from LSE?

We do not offer funding to Visiting Research Students. You are required to have sufficient personal or other sources of funding for the duration of your visit. 

15. Can I visit the Law School on a part-time basis?

It is not possible to apply for the Visiting Research Student scheme as a part-time student.

16. Is there a residency requirement?

Yes. You must live in London during the programme.

17. Am I entitled to supervision?

Yes. All Visiting Research Students are allocated a supervisor.