Law - PhD - 2016/17 Entry

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
Course Code:
  • Full Time (3-4 years)
  • Part Time (4-7 years)
  • Distance Learning (4-7 years)
School of Law
City Centre

Our experienced academics in the School of Law, many of whom are engaged in internationally recognised research, will provide you with supervision as you pursue a research programme for the award of a PhD degree. Once enrolled, your appointed supervisors, supported by a Director of Research will help you prepare a proposal for registration, the next formal stage in the research programme. Once registered you will then undertake your research and write up your thesis. You may undertake research on either a full-time or part-time basis.

Why Choose Us?

  • We aim to enhance your academic and personal development and equip you with the skills and resources to undertake high-quality research.
  • You will join a thriving research community and be part of the Centre for American Legal Studies (CALS), one of the University’s research centres of excellence which promotes excellence in research, teaching and consultancy in American law and policy.
  • Research students, who have access to a dedicated research room, are encouraged to publish in collaboration with their supervisors and to take part in research conferences.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for a PhD will usually need to have an MA, MSc or MPhil degree that has given them the specialist knowledge of the major academic literature, theories and frameworks and awareness of current practice to enable them to challenge conventional wisdom in their proposed field of study. They also need to have experience of research methods and design.

Applications for research degrees are assessed on the following criteria: that the proposed research seems likely to satisfy the academic requirements of a research degree; that the proposed research is feasible in practical terms; that you seem likely to be able to cope with the academic demands of a research degree; that the School is able to provide the appropriate supervisory expertise and resources.

Once assessed, you will be either invited to a formal enrolment interview or asked to revise your application and resubmit it.

In addition, international applicants must satisfy the university's proficiency in English Language requirements, for example, IELTS Grade 6.0 in all bands or 6.5 average; TOEFL at least 575.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete the most appropriate online application form from the list below.

For general information about applying to study at Birmingham City University, please refer to the Making Your Application section.

International enquirers may contact the International Office for further help and advice, or visit the how to apply section of the international pages.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,120 per year
Feb 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,060 per year
Feb 2017 DL 4-7 years PhD £2,575 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD TBC
Sep 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD TBC
Sep 2017 DL 4-7 years PhD TBC
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Feb 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £6,000 per year
Feb 2017 DL 4-7 years PhD £7,500 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Sep 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £6,000 per year
Sep 2017 DL 4-7 years PhD £7,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Fully funded PhD studentships

We're offering Midlands3Cities Arts and Humanities scholarships on our arts, design, media and law PhD courses.

Find out more

For more information on fees please contact us:
Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5595

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Postgraduate Open Event

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be held on Wednesday 23 November 2016, between 2pm and 7pm.

PG Open Evening

Our postgraduate open event offers you the chance to:

  • Meet with lecturers and other prospective students to discuss study options
  • Meet and chat with our current students
  • Obtain advice on fees and funding opportunities.

93 per cent of our graduates find work or further study within six months (DLHE). Explore your potential at our open evening.

Who is it for?

Whether you are coming to the end of your undergraduate studies, or have been in your job for a while and want to progress in your career or change direction, a postgraduate qualification gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Our graduates are already shaping the world in a variety of high-profile roles – and you could be next. Read some of our inspiring case studies.

For more information, visit our Open Days page or call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Register now
Book your place
Wednesday 23 November 2016

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

The PhD award is well established and valued professional qualifications within the legal sector and will enhance your career prospects. Should you want to follow a career in teaching and researching academic law in higher education, a PhD is highly desirable.

Course Structure

The School of Law has particular experience in a range of research activities, these include:

  • American Criminal Justice System
  • Death Penalty Studies
  • US Constitutional Law
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • International Human Rights
  • Conflict Resolution
  • EU Competition Law
  • Corporate Insolvency
  • Corporate Accountability
  • Corporate Trusts
  • Pensions and Investment Regulations
  • Child Law
  • Corporate Crime
  • Criminal Justice Process
  • Jurisprudence of Natural Rights, Legal Theory and Ethics
  • Employment Law and Labour Relations

You can find out more about which specific research proposals are currently on offer below. 

Find out more

Once enrolled, your appointed supervisors, supported by the Director of Research, will help you to prepare a proposal for registration, the next formal stage in the research programme. Once registered, you will then undertake your research and write up your thesis.

Research students are entitled to all the University facilities and have access to their own dedicated research room. In addition, the School is committed to providing as much support as it is able to meet the specific needs of research students.

All research students are required to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice when they begin their research degree at Birmingham City University. The Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice is specifically designed to meet the needs of all students at Birmingham City University who are embarking on a programme of research for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Professional Doctorates. The course lasts one semester and is intended to complement and support the traditional practice of research degree supervision, which remains central to the teaching and learning of research.

The course will provide students with:

  • Preparation for carrying out academic work for a research degree
  • An introduction to the research skills, practices and procedures that are essential with postgraduate research study
  • An opportunity to explore a range of theoretical and practical research issues and their application to particular phenomena
  • A supportive environment in which to develop a specific area of research interest into a viable research proposal
  • A structured programme that assists in the development of an individual research project

A day in the life of a PhD student

If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies. Read more in Karen's blog.

Course Modules

The following modules are undertaken as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods during the first semester:

(i) Research Methods

This module covers issues such as the nature of PhD study, supervision, research proposal development and writing, literature review and information management. The principal means of delivery for this content will be a seminar/workshop programme delivered by members of the research team drawn from all Schools at Birmingham City University.

Assessment of this module requires students to submit the outcomes of their initial literature review and to write a 1,500-2,500 word preliminary literature survey, to contextualise their proposed research within previous research and current knowledge.

(ii) Research Skills

This module will develop an appreciation of the range of tools and techniques that are available to help you carry out your research and to enable you to situate your own research within a broader methodological context. This will involve consideration of the epistemologies and methodological frameworks that are appropriate to the types of phenomena that research degree students are likely to study.

The module will commence with generic lectures and workshops for all students. Subsequently, students, depending upon their ‘domain’ will be provided with lectures that acknowledge ontological issues inherent in utilising methods appropriate to issues being researched. Lectures and workshops are complemented by presentation of research case studies and individual student presentations. Students will be expected to carry out independent study on individual research topics supported by regular tutorial meetings.

Assessment for this module requires students to submit a 2,500-3,500 research proposal/plan that provides an explanation of the type of data that they intend to elicit and the method(s) they wish to utilise. It is also expected that all students undertaking the Certificate programme will deliver a paper on their research topic at Day 1 of the university annual RESCON research conference, held normally in late June or early July of each year.

The Research Methods and Research Skills modules must be completed successfully for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice and will be a factor in determining progression to subsequent years of the PhD or Professional Doctorate programme.

Assessment Methods

Progress of PhD students is subject to formal written annual review. There is frequent informal monitoring of progress by the Director of Research and the Director of Studies.

You will be assessed by means of a thesis of approximately 80,000 words and by viva voce examination.

Gareth Lee

I chose Birmingham City University for my PhD because it is one of the only universities with a specific department for American Legal Studies so I knew that it would be well equipped for me to carry out my PhD in American public law. My supervisor is excellent and has a very wide knowledge of American law so I feel very confident in their help and knowledge. As my PhD is about how the norms of American law are created by the Supreme Court in relation to the death penalty, it is really useful to know that my university is so individual in having the American Centre of Legal Studies.

With a PhD I mostly work alone, so am quite self reliant, but the structure of the PhD is good because I can have as much or as little contact with my supervisor as I like, so any day to day issues are easily sorted. I have a private office available to me, as well as the post graduate centre, and I also have access to my supervisor’s office, which is good because although I do most of my research from home it’s good to have a base at the University itself. The library on campus is really well stocked so there is a lot available to help me. 

Although I don’t live in Birmingham itself, it’s a good place to study as it has everything you could want from a big city. There are so many bars, shops and restaurants there are always things to do for any student, whatever their tastes.

For now, I’m not too sure of my plans once I finish my PhD; because I’m doing it part time I still have three years left to decide! I think I’ll continue with further research or go into teaching, possibly in the United States itself, but we’ll see where the future takes me. One thing I’ve learned so far from my PhD is that you have to be prepared for things to go wrong, or not follow the route you expected. When I reached my first bump in the road I was really disappointed, but quickly learned that it isn’t really a problem and you just have to deal with problems as they arise! Luckily when you’re really interested and enjoy a subject it’s much easier to deal with any issues.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).

Further Information

Contact Haydn Davies Director of Research in the School of Law: 

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 7721