The School is home to over 90 doctoral researchers. Their projects cover a broad range of topics from intellectual property to information technology, from competition law to counter-rules, from global justice to gender equality.
Our research courses
MPhil/PhD Law Research from The Dickson Poon School of Law at King's College London.
Our research courses are overseen by the Vice Dean for Research, Professor Michael Schillig and the Director for Doctoral Studies, Dr Nicola Palmer. Please direct any queries to our School Research Officer by contacting LawResearch@kcl.ac.uk.
Candidates should identify and approach their potential first supervisor before applying. Applications from candidates without a named, agreed supervisor from the School will not be considered. View our people page to match your interests with our academic's broad range of research expertise.
The Dickson Poon School of Law is home to one of the largest communities of doctoral researchers in the country and prides itself on the vibrant life of its doctoral programme. Our researchers are an integral part of the King’s community and fully participate in staff research events alongside faculty members.
The Dickson Poon School of Law is also home to various research centres and groupings which enjoy strong international and national reputations. These centres contribute to legal and wider public discourse on important current issues. You may find that your PhD project and research interests align with the themes and scope of one of our research centres or groups, where you will find opportunities to be involved with their projects and activities. For more information, see Our Centres.
You will join our academic staff on the premises in Somerset House East Wing where we have a dedicated suite of hot desking spaces available to our research students. Mere minutes from the Strand Campus you will find the Maughan Library which serves as King College London’s library for law, social science, and the arts and humanities. As a King’s researcher you will also have access to the resources of other London universities including those at Senate House (home to the University of London’s research library), the British Library of Economics and Political Science at LSE, and the libraries of both Birkbeck College and the School of Oriental and African Studies in Bloomsbury. You also have access to The British Library, and The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) - the premier legal research library in London.
As a PhD student, you will be represented at the Faculty level by our Postgraduate Research Student Committee. This is a student-staff liaison committee which includes 4 representatives from the PhD cohort who take a lead in specific areas of concern and make sure that research students’ voices are heard. You are also represented at College level by the King's Doctoral Students' Association which includes members from each Faculty.
Our Law Student Reps provide input into training, inclusion, research activities, and social events. They have organised career development seminars, online writing sessions, and an annual Doctoral Student Sympsium where you will have an opporunity to present work-in-progress to your peers and members of our academic community.
Timeline of a PhD
The structure of the Law PhD is 3 years full-time (or part-time equivalent) + 12 months of a Writing Up year. This means most full-time students submit their thesis toward the end of their 4th year.
Entry to the Law Research MPhil/PhD programme is 1st October of each academic year. Over the course of the PhD, students will undertake independent research under the guidance of their supervisors to produce an innovative thesis of up to 100,000 words.
During your PhD, progress will be monitored by formal progress reports submitted to our Student Records system every 6 months. You will be expected to regularly meet with your supervisory team and engage in the research community of The Dickson Poon School of Law.
The School runs a series of induction events to complement the events King’s offers to all its postgraduate research students. These events introduce the School, its facilities and allow students to meet your enrolling peers and the wider PhD community. You should meet with your first supervisor within a week or two of enrolment. This meeting will serve to identify your second supervisor, agree the frequency of your meetings, discuss ethics approval and your upgrade. You will submit a student-supervisor agreement following this meeting.
Introduction to PhD Research in Law is a compulsory course that runs over the first year. This seminar series will introduce you to the idea of methodology in legal research. It will provide an overview of different legal research methodologies and explore the link between theory and methodology and outline key research skills such as conducting a literature review, analysing qualitative and quantitative data and applying for ethical approval for research. At the end of the course researchers should be able to make informed decisions about their research methodology and build their project in accordance with it.
All new students initially register for the MPhil degree with the expectation that they will transfer to the PhD. Law research students upgrade between 9 -12 months after their initial registration. To successfully upgrade, you will produce a significant piece of written work (approximately 20,000 words, usually two draft chapters), a draft abstract (approximately 250 words) and a work plan for completion of the thesis (with goals and completion dates). There is then an oral assessment (a mini-viva) to discuss this work. This meeting is with your first supervisor, an independent assessor (usually from within the School) and a Chair.
The key principle for upgrading is that you are well on course to produce research of the required standard within the permitted timescale.
Regular supervisory meetings will continue, and you may spend time away doing fieldwork or studying abroad. We encourage you to engage with the community of The Dickson Poon School of Law. We will require you to present your research to peers and the Faculty. There may be opportunities to gain teaching experience during this stage of your degree.
At the end of three years most students transfer into a ‘writing up’ year. This period marks the end of the data collection and research required for the PhD. Once you formally transfer, you are no longer required to pay full fees only pay a small writing-up fee. Writing Up is for a maximum of one year. You must adhere to your final submission date (usually four years after registration), regardless of when you transfer into Writing Up, though some students submit earlier than the final submission date.
Assessment is by a thesis, not to exceed 100,000 words and an oral examination of your thesis (your viva). The viva is by two external Examiners who are experts in the field of research being examined.