Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time;
eight years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date September 2022

Programme overview

PhD study is substantially different from other types of postgraduate work as each candidate devises their own independent research project. At the University of Bristol Law School, comprehensive research training is provided by expert academics, who also offer guidance and supervision of your research project. If you are undertaking socio-legal research, initial research training will take the form of the MSc Socio-Legal Studies programme, which is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council.

As a PhD Law student you will become part of the school’s primary unit system, which provides support for research students, and you will be invited to participate in the Law School's staff seminar programme. There may also be opportunities to undertake some part-time teaching within the school. Travel and conference funding is available for research students.

Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time
Overseas: full-time

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2022/23

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 (MSc and PhD) and +3 (PhD) ESRC scholarships. Applicants may also be interested in applying for funding from the AHRC, the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund.

There may be a graduate teaching assistantship available in the Law School. Visit the school's fees and funding web pages for further information.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class honours degree in law (or equivalent) and normally at least a merit at master's level (or equivalent). Alternatively, a first-class honours degree in law (or equivalent) and evidence of ability to conduct independent and original research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile B
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

A wide variety of subject areas are covered in the Law School. This reflects a range of different approaches to legal research - doctrinal, socio-legal/interdisciplinary and theoretical. The school has a strong portfolio in human rights, housing, corporate governance and regulation, international law, employment law, and health law and policy.

The school usually has 50 research postgraduates at any one time, working in a wide variety of subject areas and adopting a range of different approaches to legal research.

Research in the school is facilitated by: a generous policy of study leave, teaching relief and payment for student research assistants; a system of research pairing to assist with project development, review of work in progress and effective dissemination of research; and a vibrant programme of staff seminars, with roughly equal division between internal and external contributions.

Please visit our research web pages for more information.


The PhD offers useful preparation for several different careers. The first of these is academic work, particularly if the dissertation or parts of it are published in well-respected academic journals. The ability to plan, research and write a sophisticated dissertation, including an ability to conduct detailed doctrinal analysis, to think in broad theoretical terms and to engage in empirical research can provide a firm foundation for a career in the academy.

A second possible career is that of working for an NGO or policy organisation, drawing on skills in research and writing, which are invaluable for work of this kind. A third possibility is working within governments, again building on analytical, doctrinal or empirical research skills developed through the PhD, which incorporate both an ability to undertake rigorous research and to see the bigger picture.

Finally, some students choose to enter the legal profession, carrying with them a rich understanding of legal principles and practice.

Staff profiles

Dr Lawrence A Hill-Cawthorne LLB, BCL, MPhil, DPhil, (Associate Professor)

Professor Diego Acosta Arcarazo LLB(Madrid), MA(Stockholm), PHD(Kings College London), (Reader in European and Migration Law), EU migration law; migration law and policies in South America.

Dr Katie Bales BA(Northumbria) PhD(Northumbria), (Lecturer in Law), Employment Rights; Labour Law; Law of Social Movements; Migration

Dr Lindsey Bell LLB(Hons), PhD(Bristol), (Lecturer in Law), Legal History; Privacy and Security; Terrorism Law and Policy in the UK

Prof. Lois Bibbings Professor of Law, Gender and History, (Professor), Criminal law; gender and law; gender studies; historical studies; human rights; literary studies; medical law; social policy.

Professor Eirik Bjorge MJur(Oxon), PhD(Oslo), DPhil(Oxon), (Senior Lecturer in Public International Law), Human Rights; International Law/Public International Law; Public and Constitutional Law

Professor Alan Bogg BCL, MA, DPhil, (Professor in Law), Employment Law; Labour Law; Work Law

Professor Jonathan Burnside MPhil (Cantab), MA(Cantab), PhD(Liv), (Professor of Biblical Law), Criminal Law and Justice; Jurisprudence and Theory; Law and Religion

Professor Patrick Capps BA (Hons), MA(Sheff), PhD(Bristol), (Professor of International Law), Jurisprudence; public international law; sociology of law.

Professor Andrew Charlesworth LLB(Warw), (Professor in IT and Law), E-commerce law; information technology law; intellectual property law; privacy law.

Dr Tania Cheng-Davies LLB(Leic.), LLM(Lond.) PhD (Bristol), (Lecturer in Law), copyright; intellectual property law; moral rights doctrine

Professor John Coggon PhD, LLB, (Chair in Law), Health Law ; Medical Law; Public Health

Dr Jennifer Collins BA(Oxon), BCL(Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Crime and Criminal Justice

Professor Joanne Conaghan BA Hons(Oxon), BCL(Oxon), (Professor of Law), Feminism and gender, including legal aspects of violence against women; jurisprudence and legal theory; labour law; tort.

Professor David Cowan LLB(Soton), (Professor of Law and Policy), Government; housing; regulation.

Dr Katie Cruz PhD (Nottingham), MA (Nottingham), LLB (King's College London), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Gender; Labour Law

Dr Manoj Dias-Abey PhD, LL.M (Research), LL.B, BA, (Lecturer in Law), Immigration Law; Labour Law; Law and Inequality

Dr Peter Dunne LLM, PhD, (Senior Lecturer in Law), family law; gender, sexuality and the law; human rights; transgender equality

Prof. Michael Ford LLB, MA, BSc, (Professor of Law), Employment law, labour rights, social rights, EU social law, discrimination, human rights.

Dr Clair Gammage LLB(Nott), LLM(Nott), MSc(Bristol), PhD, (Senior Lecturer in Law), EU Law and Policy; Globalisation and Development and the Sociology of International Law; Human Rights; International Economic and WTO Law; International Law/Public International Law; Jurisprudence and Theory (Law and Political Economy)

Professor Paula Giliker BA, MA, BCL(Oxon), PhD(Cantab), (Professor in Comparative Law), Comparative law; contract law; tort law.

Professor Sarah Green MA, MSc, (Professor of Private Law), Contract Law; Criminal Law; Property Law; Tort

Dr Emma Hitchings LLB, PhD(Wales), (Senior Lecturer), Family law.

Professor Paddy Ireland BA(Kent), (Professor of Law, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise), Business law; corporate governance and theory; critical commercial law; law and political economy; legal theories and philosophy; regulation.

Dr Chathuni Jayathilaka LLB(Edin), PhD(Edin), PGCertHE(DeMont), (Lecturer in Law), Commercial Law; Obligations; Private Law

Dr Catherine Kelly BA/LLB (Hons) (ANU), MSc(Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), (Reader in Law), Health Law; Legal History; Medicine and Public Health

Dr Katarzyna Kryla-Cudna MJur (Oxon), PhD (Warsaw), (Lecturer in Law), comparative contract and tort law; contract and tort law in the context of environmental sustainability; Contract law; international and domestic sale of goods

Professor Judy Laing LLB, PhD(Leeds), (Professor of Law), Criminal law and justice; medical and mental health law.

Professor Sir Malcolm Evans OBE, MA, DPhil(Oxon), (Professor of Public International Law), Human rights; international law, particularly law of the sea and religious liberty; prevention of torture.

Dr Jacopo Martire LLB, LLM, PhD, (Senior Lecturer in Law), jurisprudence; law and literature; law and technology; legal theory; Michel Foucault; political theory

Dr Lee McConnell LLB, PhD, (Lecturer in Law), Business and Human Rights; Legal regulation of non-state actors; Legal theory; Public International Law

Dr Joanna McCunn MA (Law with Law Studies in Germany) (Oxon), BCL (Oxon), PhD (Cantab), (Lecturer in Law), Contract Law; Legal History

Professor Morag McDermont BA(Oxon), LLM(Bristol), PhD(WEngland), (Professor of Socio-Legal Studies), Administrative law; housing law and policy; regulation and risk; social theory.

Dr Sheelagh McGuinness BA (Galway), LLB (Galway), MA (Manchester), PhD (Manchester), (Reader in Law), Health Law Regulation of Production Gender and Law

Dr Jule Mulder PhD, LLM, LLB, (Senior Lecturer in Law), Employment, European law, equality, comparative law

Dr Cian Murphy BCL (Hons), LLM, PhD, (Reader in Law), International Law/Public International Law

Professor Rachel Murray LLB(Leic), LLM(Bristol), PhD(WEngland), (Professor of International Human Rights), Human rights, particularly national human rights commissions and African systems; public international law.

Dr Michael Naughton BSc, PhD(Bristol), (Reader in Sociology and Law), Foucauldian theory; human rights; miscarriages of justice; penal policy; social harm; social justice.

Professor Tonia Novitz LLB(Hons) First Class, BCL (Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), (Professor of Labour Law), International and EU law; jurisprudence and legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights; labour law.

Professor Ken Oliphant BA, BCL(Oxon), (Professor of Tort Law), Compensation for incapacity.; English, European and comparative tort law.

Dr Joshua Paine, (Lecturer in Law), international adjudication; international investment law

Professor Gavin Phillipson BA(Hons), CPE, LLM, (Professor of Law), Anti-terrorism law and human rights; Freedom of public protest, esp direct action; Freedom of Speech and Media Freedom in English law esp defamation law; Hate Speech, Comparative Free Speech Law; Privacy in English law and comparative privacy law.; Public Law esp constitutional dialogue, the prerogative, bicameralism, constitutional conventions; The Human Rights Act esp judicial deference horizontal effect

Dr Margherita Pieraccini MA(Aberd), MPhil(Cantab), PhD(N'cle), (Reader in Law), Common pool resources; conservation law; environmental law; legal pluralism; social-ecological resilience.

Professor Aurora Plomer LLB, PhD, MA, BA Hons, (Professor of Intellectual Property and Human Rights), EU Law and Policy ; Health Law ; Human Rights; Intellectual Property; International Law/Public International Law; Medicine and Public Health

Dr Holly Powley, (Lecturer in Law), Banking Law and Financial Markets

Dr Devyani Prabhat LLM(NYU), PhD(NYU), (Reader in Law), Human rights law; public law; socio-legal studies.

Professor Tony Prosser LLB(Liv), (Professor of Public Law), Privatisation; public law; regulation.

Dr Oliver Quick LLB, PhD(Wales), (Reader in Law), Criminal law; medical law; professional regulation; risk and trust.

Professor Julian Rivers BA, LLM, Miur, MA (Cantab), PhD, (Professor of Jurisprudence), Law and religion; legal and constitutional theory; public law.

Dr Yvette Russell BA(Auck), LLB(Auck), LLM(NYU), PhD(Kent), (Lecturer in Law), Feminist theory queer theory poststructuralist philosophy critical legal studies criminal justice criminal law sexual offences.

Dr Roseanne Russell LLB (Hons), PhD (Bristol), (Senior Lecturer in Law), Corporate Governance; feminist legal theory; Labour Law

Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells PhD (Eur), LLB, BA (Hons), (Professor of Economic Law), EU and UK competition law and policy; EU and UK public procurement law and policy ; EU economic law .; EU internal market law and policy; law and economics

Professor Gwen Seabourne BA(Cantab), BCL(Oxon), PhD(Bristol), (Professor of Legal History, Research Fellow in Bristol Law School), Legal history; medical law and ethics

Professor Keith Syrett MA, PhD(Lond), BA (Oxon), (Professor of Health Law and Policy), Health Care Law; Public Law

Professor Philip Syrpis MA(Cantab), DPhil(Oxon), BCL, (Professor of EU Law), EC law; labour law.

Dr Clare Torrible LLB (Bristol), LPC, MSc (Bristol), PhD (Bristol), (Lecturer in Law), police practice and police accountability

Professor Charlotte Villiers LLB(Hull), LLM(Lond), (Professor of Company Law), Company law; employment law; Spanish law.

Dr Asma Vranaki LLB (LSE), LLM (QMUL), BVC (City), DPhil (Oxon), Fellow (HEA), (Lecturer in Law), Information Law and Regulation; Socio-Legal Studies

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline

The closing date for a September start date is 1 June 2022. 

The closing date for ESRC studentship applications (September 2022 start) is January 2022. For further details on applying for ESRC funding, please visit the SWDTP website.

Please view the Law School research programme funding web page for more information.

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 394 0062 Email:

University of Bristol Law School
Wills Memorial Building
Queens Road
Bristol BS8 1RJ
School website: University of Bristol Law School

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2021 results

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education), with 94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Full REF 2021 results for the University of Bristol.


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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