PhD Opportunities

PhD opportunities in the School of Law

There are currently the following funded PhD opportunities in the following areas. For further information, contact the named staff below.

You can find further details on studying for a PhD and details of how to apply by clicking here. 


Funded PhD Opportunities

The School of Law is seeking to recruit a new cohort to undertake research in a number of key areas. The funding consists of a tax-free stipend paid monthly and has a current value of £15,009 per annum. The bursary is renewable annually for up to 36 months in total, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD research.

Successful applicants for our funded PhD studentships will receive a tax-free research stipend that tracks UK Research Council rates (currently £15,009) and a fee waiver to the value of Home / EU student PhD fees (currently £4,327). The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Friday 28 June 2019.

You can find further details on studying for a PhD and details of how to apply here. To apply, please click on the ‘How to Apply’ tab and quote the Reference Number and Title on your Research Proposal.


Compassionate Release in the United States: Exploring Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Reference Number: 13

School: Law

Supervisory Team: Dr. Sarah Cooper; Dr. Friso Jansen; Dr Anne Richardson Oakes; and Ms. Katie Puzauskas, Esq

Compassionate release procedures allow prisoners to apply for release on ill-health grounds. In the light of mass incarceration, and the generally poor health status of prisoners, developing evidence-based recommendations for the enhancement of compassionate release procedures is an urgent issue in the USA. The National Academy of Sciences has specifically called for researchers to “work closely with the national and state governments and nongovernmental institutions to develop an ambitious and multifaceted portfolio of study to fill knowledge gaps in this field.” (NAS, 2014) This includes research that would inform the creation of “a national medical release or so-called compassionate release guideline” (NAS, 2013).

In 2017/18, BCU’s School of Law led a Leverhulme Trust/British Academy-funded study of compassionate release procedures in the USA. The study’s data-set shows a variation in eligibility requirements, exclusions, definitions for qualifying medical conditions and terminal illnesses, decision-makers, and release requirements. Using this data-set as a starting point, this PhD project provides the opportunity for a candidate to, based on their interests, and expertise - make an interdisciplinary contribution to generating further knowledge on compassionate release. The aims of the project are to:

1. Critically interrogate the data-set and, as a result, develop an interdisciplinary perspective on a facet of compassionate release in the USA. This could take various forms. For example,

a)  (e.g., how procedures define illness in the context of compassionate release, and how this sits within medical science constructs)

b)  (e.g., focusing attention on a state that does not have a formal compassionate release procedure, such as Illinois, and interrogating relevant factors i.e., political frameworks, correctional policy etc),

c)  (e.g., an examination of the impact of release requirements across US state procedures through empirical research);

2. Design a project that investigates the issue or theme; and

3. Produce a model compassionate release policy (or policies) for stakeholders

Law PhD - Compassionate Release in the United States: Exploring Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Contact information: Dr. Sarah Cooper
Email: sarah.cooper@bcu.ac.uk
Tel: 0121 331 6248


Promoting Global Health: An Investigation of the Universal Periodic Review and United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Reference Number: 14

Centre for Human Rights and Centre for Law, Science and Policy

Supervisory Team: Prof. Jon Yorke, Dr. Friso Jansen, Alice Storey, and Dr. Sarah Cooper

This research will investigate the bilateral and multilateral challenges to promoting and safeguarding healthcare within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda. 

The UPR involves a periodic review of UN member states’ human rights record, and in this mechanism national governments, civil society stakeholders, and the Working Group, will engage with relevant issues such as health/healthcare. In 2015, the UN established the Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda. This agenda covers a broad set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and 167 targets. These “will serve as the overall framework to guide global and national development action for the next 15 years, and SDG3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.”

Against a backdrop of advances in both the safeguarding of health and new threats to physical and mental health worldwide, this project aims to explore the synergies of the UPR and the SDGs, and analyse the opportunities and obstacles for promoting global health.

The application can be further developed in collaboration with a successful applicant to suit relevant expertise and interests.

Law PhD - Promoting Global Health: An Investigation of the Universal Periodic Review and United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Contact information: Dr. Friso Jansen
Email: friso.jansen@bcu.ac.uk
Tel: 0121 300 4171