Research Degrees in Law
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
The School of Law accepts candidates for research work leading to a PhD. The central feature of PhD work is the close relationship between the doctoral candidate and his or her supervisor, in which they meet regularly and consult closely. This relationship is supported and strengthened in various ways. Every doctoral candidate has an adjunct supervisor, another member of staff with a close interest in the candidate’s region and/or subfield of the discipline.
There is a research tutor with overall responsibility for doctoral candidates who is available for a discussion of general problems. In addition, there are a number of other activities which contribute to a doctoral candidate’s work and training. All incoming MPhil/PhD candidates are required to take the School of Law’s Research Seminar Programme in their first year.
Doctoral candidates are encouraged to contribute to the research activities of the department. Several of them are active in the various Research Centres run in the School of Law and are encouraged to participate in conferences and other projects organized by the department. The School of Law hosts Reading Groups, which doctoral candidates are encouraged to participate in. Doctoral candidates are expected to participate in the School of Law PhD Colloquium which is held once a year. The colloquium gives doctoral candidates the opportunity to present their research and progress to colleagues and staff.
Many SOAS doctoral candidates spend some time doing field work in the regions of their research. The School, and other members of SOAS, through their various connections with individuals and institutions in the universities and governments of Asia and Africa, facilitate this work with personal contacts and introductions. The School’s language training facilities are also available to doctoral candidates to develop their facility in an appropriate language for research purposes.
Applicants must normally have an advanced degree equivalent in level and content to the School of Law’s LLM or MA.
During the first year, MPhil/PhD candidates are required to attend the School of Law’s Postgraduate Research Training Seminar, whose purpose is to introduce them to the principal practical and methodological issues associated with postgraduate legal studies. This course introduces MPhil/PhD candidates to both an array of methodologies, as well as different bodies of legal scholarship and theory. MPhil/PhD candidates are also able to avail themselves of general seminars on research methodology offered by the SOAS Doctoral School.
By the beginning of the third term of the first year, MPhil/PhD candidates are required to hand in a draft Research Plan that is an integrated document based on the methodology paper, research paper, draft dissertation abstract, draft table of contents, draft bibliography and working schedule.
All doctoral candidates are first registered as MPhil candidates. The process of upgrading - that is, upgrading registration from MPhil to PhD - takes place at the end of the first year of study (or part-time equivalent) and involves all members of the Supervisory Committee in the assessment of the candidate's work to date. Specifically, the potential of the work to be developed into a PhD thesis of University of London standard. It is based on the Research Plan and a presentation of that plan to the Supervisory Committee. Candidates who are not upgraded in accordance with this process will not be eligible to proceed to submission of a PhD thesis, although they may proceed to submit for an MPhil at the end of two years of full-time registration or part-time equivalent.
Important notice: Doctoral students as of 2017/18 academic year will be required to completed Research Integrity Online Programme, as part of their upgrading requirement.
After Year 1
After their first year, doctoral candidates must carefully plan their time so that they can finish their draft thesis well in time before the end of their third year of registration. The process followed by each doctoral candidate is guided by their research project. This may include a period of field research if required by the nature of project undertaken. Doctoral candidates are encouraged to take part in the Law School's research activities and events, including the PhD Colloquium, activities organized by Research Centres, informal reading groups, and the Law School Research Seminar series.