Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Our research programme

Qualification(s): MPhil  PhD 

MPhil/PhD Law Research from The Dickson Poon School of Law at King's College London.

View course


We have a thriving cohort of PhD students from all over the world. 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.

You can meet some of our current PhD students on our Faculty's People pages. 

Our research programme is overseen by the Vice Dean for Research, Professor Michael Schillig and the Director for Doctoral Studies, Dr Aleksandra Jordanoska.

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.

Our PhD programme accepts projects in any area of legal research, subject to supervisory availability. 

What We Offer

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 Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) - the premier legal research library in London.

We provide a research allowance to each PhD student to support you with conference attendance, training, and development during your PhD. Additionally, we run multiple internal schemes for Research Development that can help you with the costs of travel and accomodation related to your PhD research. The Dickson Poon School of Law has also had great success supporting students with the Modern Law Review bursary over the last four years. 

Student life 

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

Student Representation

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.

Over the course of the PhD, your will undertake independent research under the guidance of your supervisors to produce an innovative thesis of up to 100,000 words. This means much of your work is independent and based upon agreed targets with your supervisors.

Entry to the Law Research MPhil/PhD programme is 1st October of each academic year.

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.

Over the course of your first year, you will undertake the compulsory Introduction to Law Research training module. 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. At the end of the course you should be able to make an informed decision about your project's research methodology.

All new students will be registered for the MPhil degree with the expectation that they will transfer to the PhD via a process we call the Upgrade. We expect our PhD students to upgrade between 9 -12 months (FT) or 18 - 22 months (PT) 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.

The middle part of your PhD has significantly less structure than your first year. Your should continue to have regular supervision meetings and complete regular progress reports throughout your PhD. Depending on the nature of your project and area of study, you might be doing any of the following things in your second, third, or even into your fourth year: Fieldwork, participating in conferences and workshops, undertaking a fellowship or internship, teaching at King's or another London university, coaching one of our several Mooting Teams, continuing to attend training and development seminars, participating in our yearly Doctoral Symposium, or engaging in opportunities with our academic staff and teams such as impact, knowledge exchange, public talks and events. We encourage you to engage with the community of The Dickson Poon School of Law as much as possible during your time here.

Your final year is often focused on writing a draft of your PhD thesis. After 3 years of full-time registration (or PT equivalent) you will qualify to transfer to 'pending submission' status (also known as 'writing up'). This period marks the end of the data collection and research required for the PhD. 'Pending submission' is a possible registration status which signals you are likely to submit within twelve months. 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. You will also start thinking about examiners for your viva in your final year. These must be formally appointed and approved by the Faculty, so you will want to discuss it with your supervisory team early on.

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.