The School of Law supports a thriving PhD community, largely through its three main research centres: The Centre for American Legal Studies, The Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Law, Science and Policy. We also contribute to the work of the University-wide Centre for Brexit Studies.
We are currently supporting students to undertake doctoral research on a variety of topics, including capital punishment, international human rights standards and trade agreements, and the interface of law and science in the context of public health and criminal justice.
There are currently both funded and self-funded PhD opportunities in the School of Law. Find out more about these proposals, and how to apply by clicking here.
Doctoral research allows students to development advanced skills in research, project management, critical thinking, argument construction and drafting, and to be innovative.
Our PhD students benefit from regular supervision meetings with academics who are experts in their field; and have the opportunity to become members of our proactive research community made up of academics, postgraduate researchers and external partners.
Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 24 November. Register your interest and we'll send an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
PhD degrees are research programmes. They allow you to learn as you work through the issues associated with solving a particular problem. Each research degree student is supported by a team of supervisors appointed for the particular study. In all years of study, students will be required to present their work in meetings of fellow students and staff conducting parallel research.
The School of Law supports cutting-edge research that falls broadly within the themes of our three research centres, and aims to inform the resolution of global challenges. Our academics collaborate with international organisations, including the United Nations, Amicus, and the Nuffield Foundation, and their research has been cited widely by scholars, courts and practitioners.
You can find out more about our scholarship, external partnerships and members by visiting the centres’ websites.
Our research interests include topics that fall broadly within the themes of our three main research centres, which are:
And the School of Law actively participates in research in the following areas:
At present, we have students undertaking doctoral research on a variety of topics including projects examining:
You can view a full list of our research projects here.
Starting: Sep 2020
Starting: Feb 2021
Starting: Sep 2020
Starting: Feb 2021
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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.
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.
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.
Students will be expected to achieve certain goals throughout each year of their PhD.
Generally, in year one, students will be expected to successfully complete the PgCert in Research Practice, define their research questions, and complete full drafts of their literature review and methodology chapters. In Year Two, students will be expected to apply their methodology, complete data-collection and undertake data analysis. In Year 3, students will be expected to write-up their findings and complete their thesis.
Students will also be expected to contribute to the academic community through attending and disseminating their research at internal and external conferences throughout their studies. Students in the later stages of their PhD will also be expected to consider writing papers for publication in law journals.
Students will also be expected to successfully complete regular progress reviews as required by the Faculty.
The School of Law uses a ‘Model of Supervision’ to support students to achieve their goals.
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:
The criteria to be awarded a PhD is to make a ‘unique contribution to knowledge.’ Whether a student has achieved this is determined by a panel of experts, including internal and external academics. The panel will assess the student’s written thesis, and the student’s oral defence of that thesis in a viva voce.
Our PhD programmes are offered full-time or part-time. These modes of study ensure that we can create a PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment or overseas.
As a full-time PhD research student you will undertake your research both on and off-campus. You will usually spend at least 37 hours per week engaged in research.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.
You would chose part-time PhD research if you opt to study whilst in employment or if full-time study is impractical.
You will be encouraged to use the campus facilities when you can and may often work from home.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.
The School of Law offers PhD students, where available, opportunities to teach, contribute to and/or organise research events, and to collaborate with academics and external partners. Supervisory teams will support PhD students to apply for funding to travel to conferences and other such events as appropriate.
Alice talks about her research into the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the abolition of the death penalty in the United States.
For the first six months of your PhD you will undertake the PGCert in Research Practice, which is a taught and compulsory part of the PhD programme. You will meet with your supervisors and attend classes every week. This is an essential part of the PhD which will help you to get your research started and set you up for the rest of your PhD journey. The PGCert programme covers literature review and research methods which are specific to your faculty.
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.
The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry, government, policy-making, or commerce. Our law-based PhD research degree has been designed to help you achieve a career in research or academia.
Completing a PhD in law can open many doors, including to careers in academia, government, non-profit organisations, and private business.
PhD researchers funded under the Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership have the opportunity to undertake industry placements as part of their research. For more information visit the Midlands 3 Cities website.
For those students not funded by Midlands 3 Cities, the PhD still allows you the opportunity to work with other institutions and companies as part of your research. You can discuss your options with your potential supervisors, if you feel a placement would benefit your research.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
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 international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
This course is based at the City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other Law, Business, Social Sciences and English courses
The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.
The facilities at the Curzon building include two bespoke Law Courtrooms, replicating a Crown court and a Magistrates court. These rooms will play a key part in your learning experience, allowing you to try your hand in mock court cases, whilst also being the venue for our Mooting and Debating Societies.
On top of this, the Curzon building houses an extensive Law library, with books covering every aspect of Law history.
Our academics collaborate with international organisations, including the United Nations, Amicus, and the Nuffield Foundation, and their research has been cited widely by scholars, courts and practitioners. You can view a full list of the current research areas here.
Chipo Mwale is Programme Director for LLM International Human Rights and also a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law. She currently teaches the following courses: LL.B.; LL.M. Corporate and Business Law; LLM International Human Rights; BA Joint Honours Programme (Business Law Pathway).