MPhil/PhD Law

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Law
  • Application code M3ZL
  • Starting 2024
  • Home full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

LSE Law is the UK's pre-eminent research institution for law. Our academics are the authors of influential and often path-breaking scholarship, and many have globally leading reputations. As one of UK's largest law departments, with over 70 academic members of staff, LSE Law is well known for its interdisciplinary and contextual approaches to the study of law.

Our PhD Law programme offers the opportunity to undertake advanced legal research at one of the world's best law schools. Students in our PhD programme receive excellent training, and work under the supervision of leading scholars with strong international, comparative and interdisciplinary commitments. Our doctoral students become members of a lively academic community which is at the cutting-edge of legal scholarship and which plays a major role in the education of lawyers and law teachers from around the world.

Students in our PhD programme work under the supervision of two academics. We also provide specialised training for PhD students, both through our own training course and through courses run by other units of LSE, especially the Department of Methodology and the PhD Academy. PhD students are also welcome to attend any other LSE course, subject to the approval of the lecturer.

We aim to provide our PhD students with the opportunity to gain teaching experience, and also offer the opportunity to become involved with the organisation of mooting, academic conferences, pro bono work, and our working paper series. Each year two PhD students also serve as Masters advisers/PhD Representatives.

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD Law
Start date 30 September 2024
Application deadline 1 December 2023
Duration Three to four years full-time (minimum 2). Please note that LSE allows part-time PhD study only under limited circumstances. Please see for more information. If you wish to study part-time, you should mention this (and the reasons for it) in your statement of academic purpose, and discuss it at interview if you are shortlisted.
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (see 'Fees and funding')
Minimum entry requirement LLM or equivalent with an average of 70 per cent
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Law (see 'Assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD Law 

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.

Research proposal

Your application should give us a clear idea of what you want to research and why.

You should state the general area in which you wish to undertake research, and provide a detailed outline of the specific questions you intend to investigate within that field. You should indicate the ways in which your proposed study would be a significant and original contribution to knowledge. You should identify the materials you expect to need, where you expect to find them, and the methods and/or framework of analysis you propose to use. Finally, you should explain how your proposed project is a good fit with other research work done within the Law School.

More detailed information on the admissions requirements for the programme, and guidance on what is required to form a successful research proposal is available in the LSE Law PhD programme FAQs page.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from students whose proposed research projects complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying. 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. 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.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- statement of academic purpose
- references
- CV
- outline research proposal
- sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do. See our English language requirements.

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.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 1 December 2023. To be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that any necessary supporting materials (e.g. letters of reference sent by referees on their behalf) reach the LSE in good time, and are advised to start the admissions process as early as possible as a result.

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2024/25 for MPhil/PhD Law

Home students: £4,829 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas students: £22,632 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges home research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (i.e. 4 per cent per annum).

The Table of Fees shows the latest tuition amounts for all programmes offered by the School.

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification.

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide generous scholarships each year to home and overseas students.

LSE Law School nonetheless aims to ensure that all students have adequate funding for their studies, typically through the award of an LSE PhD Studentship. A Studentship covers the cost of the student’s tuition fees and also provides a generous annual maintenance stipend (£23,000 for 2023/24). Studentships come with a teaching requirement of approximately 100 hours of classroom teaching to be completed over the course of the candidate’s PhD studies. The Law School also offers an annual personal research allowance of £1,000, and other benefits such as access to our PhD Field Work fund.

There is no separate application process for LSE PhD Studentships, as funding awards are considered alongside admission to the doctoral programme. All applicants must apply by the ordinary application deadline of 1 December 2023.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. Find out more about financial support.

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do.  

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page). 

2) Go to the International Students section of our website. 

3) Select your country. 

4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page.

Programme structure and courses

In addition to progressing with your research, you are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. You may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with your supervisor. At the end of your first year (full-time), you will need to satisfy certain requirements and if you meet these, you will be retroactively upgraded to PhD status.

First year - Training courses

Doctoral Research Seminar (Compulsory)
Equips students with the skills required to undertake advanced legal research.
Law Department Seminar Series (Compulsory)
One other relevant course:(Compulsory)

Second year - Training courses

Doctoral Research Seminar Series (Optional)
PhD Seminar Series (Optional)
Staff Seminar Series

Third year - Training courses

Doctoral Research Seminar Series (Optional)
PhD seminar Series (Compulsory)
Staff seminar Series (Optional)

Fourth year - Transferable skills courses

Doctoral Research Seminar Series (Optional)
PhD Seminar Series (Optional)
Staff Seminar Series (Optional)

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.  

You must note, however, that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page..

Supervision, progression and assessment


You will be assigned two supervisors who are specialists in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. 

Progression and assessment

Full-time PhD students must complete their doctorate within four years, and part-time students must complete it within eight years.

At the end of the first year (or, in the case of part-time students, second year), your progress is formally assessed. Successful completion of this assessment then sees you registered as a candidate for the PhD degree. 

As part of this assessment (or ‘upgrade’) process, you will present your work-in-progress at our Upgrade Conference, attended by academic staff and PhD students. Third year doctoral students also give a seminar on their work-in-progress, again attended by academic staff and PhD students.

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small, there are a range of people you can speak to who will be happy to help.  

Department librarians – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies. 

Accommodation service – they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries.

Class teachers and seminar leaders – they will be able to assist with queries relating to specific courses. 

Disability and Wellbeing Service – they are experts in long-term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as student counselling, a peer support scheme and arranging exam adjustments. They run groups and workshops. 

IT help – support is available 24 hours a day to assist with all your technology queries.  

LSE Faith Centre – this is home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.  

Language Centre – the Centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in nine languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication; and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers ­– with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights. 

LSE Library  founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and is a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide. 

LSE LIFE – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom; offers one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision; and provides drop-in sessions for academic and personal support. (See ‘Teaching and assessment’). 

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU) – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding. 

PhD Academy – this is available for PhD students, wherever they are, to take part in interdisciplinary events and other professional development activities and access all the services related to their registration. 

Sardinia House Dental Practice – this offers discounted private dental services to LSE students. 

St Philips Medical Centre – based in Pethwick-Lawrence House, the Centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients.

Student Services Centre – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.  

Student advisers – we have a Deputy Head of Student Services (Advice and Policy) and an Adviser to Women Students who can help with academic and pastoral matters.

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective. 

Student societies and activities

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in extracurricular activities. From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from. 

The campus 

LSE is based on one campus in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community. 

Life in London 

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more. 

Want to find out more? Read why we think London is a fantastic student city, find out about key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners. Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about London on a budget


Quick Careers Facts for the Department of Law

Median salary of our PG students 15 months after graduating: £36,000

Top 5 sectors our students work in:

  • Law and Legal Services  
  • Government, Public Sector and Policy   
  • Accounting and Auditing              
  • Health and Social Care  
  • Education, Teaching and Research

The data was collected as part of the Graduate Outcomes survey, which is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Graduates from 2020-21 were the fourth group to be asked to respond to Graduate Outcomes. Median salaries are calculated for respondents who are paid in UK pounds sterling and who were working in full-time employment.

Once completed, the majority of our students undertake academic appointments, whether as lecturers or post-doctoral researchers. The remainder have received tenancies in barristers’ chambers or work in law firms, or NGOs and consultancies. Over the last four years, our PhD graduates have been appointed to lectureships at universities that include London School of Economics, City, Cardiff, Durham, King’s College London, Birkbeck, Liverpool, Middlesex, Queen Mary, SOAS, Southampton, University College London, Warwick and York, and outside the UK at the Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva), University College Dublin, Victoria University (New Zealand), Queen’s University (Canada) and St Thomas University (Canada). Other graduates have been selected for post-doctoral fellowships at the London School of Economics. New York University, Humbolt University,  the European University Institute and the University of Haifa.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

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