Accessibility statement

PhD and MPhil

York Law School was ranked joint first for the excellence of its research outputs in Times Higher Education's ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. 46 per cent of our publications were classed as ‘world leading’ (4*) and 34 per cent ‘internationally excellent’ (3*). We encourage research applicants from all over the world to join us in one of the best Schools in the UK for legal and socio-legal research.

Why York Law School?

Why York Law School?

  • We have an international reputation for research excellence in legal and socio-legal studies.
  • We are a vibrant community committed to research excellence.
  • Research in the School is focussed around six research clusters, which include PGR students.
  • YLS has a wide range of research expertise, spanning a diverse array of topics, and applying a variety of research methods: from doctrinal to philosophical, empirical, historical and critical. 

Supervision and training

Supervision and training

What to expect from your supervisor

At York Law School you will be allocated a supervisor at the beginning of your first academic year (you should already have met or engaged with your supervisor before being offered a place – see further below). Where relevant to the your research interest, a second supervisor from the School or another Department may be appointed.

You will meet with your supervisor at least once every six weeks, often more frequently, especially in the first year. This relationship will have a major influence on the progress of your research. The learning process should be two-way, from which you both should benefit. However, a supervisor will help to maintain and develop your intellectual interests, offering new perspectives on your research topic, drawing attention to new work in the area, providing appropriate academic contacts, giving notice of useful conferences and seminars, and advice on publication. The supervisor will also direct you to relevant short courses offered in other departments or in the university’s service departments.

Thesis Advisory Panels

As well as the main supervisor(s), a Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP) will be appointed to each student. The TAP meets with you and your supervisor twice a year. It monitors progress, checks directly with you about whether the supervisory relationship is working well, and offers advice where necessary. 

Research training

The Law School offers a programme of research skills workshops for 1st year research students, spread across the three main terms of the academic year. As well as offering support in designing your research project, refining your research question, and in critical reading and thinking, it offers a forum for research students to meet together as a cohort, to learn together and support each other.

At faculty level, the Research School of Social Sciences permits student to audit certain modules (subject to availability) on its MA in Social Research. YLS students, where appropriate, may gain training in quantitative and qualitative research methods.

At University level, all research students take part in transferable skills training, which develops competence in communication skills, career management, networking and team building and personal effectiveness. Students undertake six days of training per year, which will be selected from the generic transferable skills courses offered by the University’s Graduate Training Office. 

Additionally, the University’s Researcher Development Team provides a central suite of training opportunities for all researchers (research students, research associates, research assistants and research fellows) and works with departments to provide subject specific training.



Entry requirements

You would normally have a good undergraduate degree in Law or in a discipline related to the research area in which you intend to work. We would normally expect you have obtained an average of at least 65% overall and a minimum of 65% in your undergraduate dissertation. In addition, you would have a Masters degree in Law or another discipline relevant to your research topic. We would normally expect you have obtained an average of at least 65% in the Masters degree overall and a minimum of 65% in the dissertation module.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language and you have not completed an undergraduate degree in English we will need evidence of your English language ability to the required level, in addition to any academic entry requirements.

Before you apply

You should not submit a formal application until you’ve informally discussed your research proposal with the member(s) of staff that you have identified as the most appropriate supervisor. For more information about research interests please see: Staff Research Areas

Supervisors may be contacted by email. You should only submit a formal application if your supervisor provisionally supports it.

How to apply

Application for Research degrees are made online:

Apply for the PhD

Apply for the MPhil

As part of the application process, you must include:

  • a transcript of your undergraduate and, where relevant, Masters degree results
  • a research proposal
  • a sample of your written academic work.

Writing your research proposal

The proposal should be around 1,500-2,000 words (excluding bibliography). It should be structured as follows:

  • Introduction: this section should briefly delimit the area of research and identify the major issue, problem, or gap in knowledge which forms the background to your proposal, including any recent literature.
  • Key research questions: you need to explain the issues you are addressing which have not been studied before, or not in the way that you intend to address them. 
  • Identify existing literature: candidates need to identify the main literature in the area and to demonstrate awareness of the major existing debates.
  • Methodology: you should show awareness of different methodological tools that could be used to answer your research questions.
  • An outline and timescale for the research: this schedule should attempt to break down the work required into manageable segments, which will often be based on sections of the thesis. 
  • Indicative bibliography: the bibliography should include work that you have cited in the rest of the proposal as well as references to literature that will be followed up or used in the research project.

After you apply

The Chair of the Graduate School Board will review your formal application with the proposed supervisor. If both agree that your proposed field of research is one in which the School is able to offer appropriate supervision, then you will be offered an interview to discuss your application further. After the interview, a decision on your application will be made and communicated to you.

The University pursues a policy of equal opportunities in offering places on postgraduate degrees, as in all appointments.

Who to contact