Law PhD

Our academic research is respected internationally for its rigour and significance. We are committed to contributing, through the excellence of our research and policy work, to critical exploration of the role of law in promoting (or inhibiting) social justice. We take as the inspiration for our legal investigations core values such as equality and citizenship, participation and exclusion, vulnerability and social responsibility – whilst also reflecting upon how such values are themselves constructed and critiqued.

Why study with us?

My time at the University of Liverpool has been amazing! I have had the chance to work with knowledgeable academics who are leaders in their field, but I have also had access to resources and opportunities which have allowed me to develop as a researcher. The Law School has continually helped me to push my boundaries and grow into a successful academic.

Ruari McAlister - Law PhD student
  • 10th

    in the sector for research impact classified as 'outstanding' (4*) in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021)

  • 14th

    in the sector for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021)

  • 100

    years Liverpool Law School have taught Law and remains a leader in helping students to reach their full potential.


Our Department hosts eight Research Clusters, which are crucial in supporting the building of external partnerships, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, and coordinating timely responses to current legal and policy developments.

The Charity Law and Policy Unit (CLPU) carries out research into the legal issues facing charities and third sector organisations, often with a strong empirical element and leading to proposals for legal and regulatory reform, which have made important contributions to policy change in this field. Examples are the unit's path-breaking work on charity mergers, disputes in the charitable sector, the legal structure of charities, housing the mentally vulnerable, and charities and equality legislation.

International Criminal Law (ICL) has become one of the most prominent aspects of international law. The International Criminal Court and other tribunals have captured the imagination of the public, and international criminal justice has become a much commented-upon scholarly topic.  However, more recently, the engagement with international criminal law has also been marked by a sense of disillusionment. Increasingly, scholars, activists and practitioners are drawing attention to international criminal law’s biases and blind spots, as well as its role in perpetuating unequal global power relations.

EU Law@Liverpool has significant research strength and plays a key role in shaping academic research, public information and policy development in the context of the Brexit debate. The Unit was a leading contributor of both oral and written evidence to the UK’s Balance of Competence Review on the relationship between the UK and the EU, organises academic, policymaker and public events on the UK’s membership of the Union, and contributes to academic journals, public blogs and policy briefings on Brexit. Information is disseminated through extensive media (BBC Radio, Sunday Politics) social media and YouTube engagement (gaining millions of views online before and after the referendum). We have a dedicated website which details our work in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The European Children's Rights Unit (ECRU) works alongside many external members from a range of academic, non-governmental and other research-driven organisations, to pursue a participatory, interdisciplinary research ethos into children's rights. Its focus is on the European (including comparative) dimension and is particularly distinctive in exploring the interplay between different levels of governance and the impact of those interactions on children's rights.

The Health Law and Regulation Unit (HLARU) supports research and knowledge exchange activities in the field of health law and regulation. HLARU brings together a range of experts pursuing cutting-edge, impactful research into current legal, regulatory and policy dilemmas in healthcare. Our members’ expertise encompasses a wide range of health law topics, including medical malpractice, patient capacity and consent, reproduction, professional regulation, children and medicine, research ethics, and mental health. We are committed to conducting world-leading legal and policy research which will make a significant original contribution to health law scholarship and enhance the quality of public debate in a particularly controversial field.

The core objective of LEGU members is to conduct cutting-edge and internationally recognised research in economic governance. Globalisation and the rise of neo-liberal economic and political principles have resulted in a new and complex set of relationships between the state, society and markets. This new governance landscape provides researchers fertile ground to explore new phenomena.

The Law & Non-Communicable Diseases Unit (or Law & NCD Unit) was set up in January 2015 to conduct research into how law can be used to prevent non-communicable diseases, and more specifically on how effective, evidence-based policy interventions can be designed to regulate the tobacco, alcohol and food industries to promote better health. The Unit comprises legal academics who collectively specialise in a wide range of sub-disciplines, including international human rights and children’s rights, public health, trade and investment, consumer, food and advertising law. We embrace a multi-disciplinary, multi-partner approach to our work, and as such have forged sustained partnerships with the World Health Organization, its regional and country offices and other UN agencies, the European Commission, as well as many governments and non-governmental organisations worldwide.

Research themes

Our research themes are:

  • Charity Law and Policy Unit
  • Critical Approaches International Criminal Law
  • EU Law@Liverpool
  • European Children’s Rights Unit
  • Health Law and Regulation Unit
  • International Criminological Research Unit
  • International Law and Human Rights Unit
  • Liverpool Economic Governance Unit
  • Law and Non-Communicable Diseases Unit.

Study options and fees

PhD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,712
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £27,800 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £27,800 (Band A)^ or £21,850 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £21,850 (Band B)
Part time 4-6 years £2,356
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £13,900 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £13,900 (Band A)^ or £10,925 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £10,925 (Band B)

The fees stated in the table above exclude potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees’. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

* Please note that if you are undertaking a PhD within the Faculty of Science and Engineering the fee you pay, Band A or Band B, will reflect the nature of your research project. Some research projects incur a higher fee than others e.g. if you are required to undertake laboratory work. You will be informed of the fee for your programme in your offer letter.

^ Self-funded, full-time international students studying a PhD programme classified as Band A will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

Applicants for the Law PhD programme should normally hold a minimum of a 2:1 class Honours Degree in in a relevant subject (BA or LLB), in addition to a Masters in Law (LLM).

English language requirements

IELTS Academic requirement - SELT and non-SELT Overall 6.5 no band below 6.0
TOEFL iBT requirement Minimum 88 overall with L 19 W 19 R 19 and S 20
C1 Advanced CAE requirement Overall 176 with no less than 169 in any paper
Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE II)ISE II with an overall pass with merit in components
Cambridge IGCSE as a First LanguageGrade C
Cambridge IGCSE as a Second LanguageGrade B
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Proficiency)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

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Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal

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