Law PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Why choose this course?

Whether you are planning a career as an academic within the education sector, or as a professional researcher within the public or private sectors, the Kingston University's Law PhD will develop your research skills, help you make an original contribution to your chosen field of enquiry and enhance your professional credibility.

The Department of Law's expert academic team includes National Teaching Award winners and Fellows from the Higher Education Academy, as well as lecturing staff who combine teaching with legal practice.

You will research a topic of your choice in great depth. We particularly invite applications in the areas of:

  • Gas and energy law
  • Misuse of private information and breach of confidence
  • AI embedded in transportation, communication and toys
  • Indigenous and tribal peoples' rights
  • IP law, particularly on trademarks or patents of biotechnological inventions
  • Stress at work in tort
  • Collective labour law
  • Restorative justice
  • Space law and cyber law
  • The gig economy
  • Natural law theory
  • EU law

Please view the Department of Law's staff profiles to see if our staff specialisms are a good match with the topic you would like to study.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 3 years You are required to attend supervision meetings, Graduate Research School training sessions, training sessions run by the Department of Law, and other research events or training beneficial to your research skills and personal development. March 2024
October 2024
Part time 6 years You are required to attend supervision meetings, Graduate Research School training sessions, training sessions run by the Department of Law, and other research events or training beneficial to your research skills and personal development. March 2024
October 2024
Main Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • At Kingston University you will have access to an expert academic supervisory team, as well as training and teaching opportunities to help you develop your ideas and achieve your goals.
  • You will have the support of the academic and postgraduate community; the high calibre of Kingston University's students and alumni provide excellent networking opportunities.
  • Your PhD supervision will be highly specialised to your needs and interests. In addition the course is delivered in a flexible format, so you can choose a full or part-time programme according to what suits you best.


UKRI - Economic and Social Research Council logo

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

UKRI - Economic and Social Research Council logo

The Department of Law is a recognised Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) outlet for research training for doctoral students.

This programme is recognised by the ESRC as fulfilling its requirements to provide a broad-based programme of research training for those studying at doctoral level in the UK.

What you will study

The programme is made up of individual supervision and as such can be extremely flexible to accommodate your needs.

As a PhD student within the Department of Law, you will be expected to attend the University's research training sessions and a series of in-house training seminars run by the Department. The latter take the form of research 'masterclasses', where an experienced member of the Department leads a session intended to reflect on different aspects of conducting research in law. You are also invited to attend the Department of Law research seminars arranged for members of the academic staff.

There is also a series of sessions on the Philosophy of Enquiry and a series of sessions on the Conduct of Enquiry. These non-compulsory modules, held with other PhD students and run by various members of the faculty, will help prepare you for your independent studies, and introduce you to the other students and staff in the department.

The Department of Law is small and very friendly, and has a real community feel with other postgraduate students. There will be opportunities to engage with many members of staff beyond your supervisor.

For further information about the Law PhD programme (including the availability of supervision in an area of your interest) please contact Dr Phil Harris.

Teaching experience

You will have the opportunity to teach undergraduates and undertake an ‘academic apprenticeship' to help you pursue a career in academia.

Presenting ongoing research

Once a year, all PhD students are given the opportunity to present to the faculty about their PhD research. This ongoing engagement offers students and staff the chance to share and help each other develop their ideas.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

You should have:

  • a first or second class honours undergraduate degree and a masters degree in Law or a law-related subject; and
  • two personal references from academic referees confirming your suitability for the programme.

You will also need to provide evidence of:

  • relevant educational, professional and personal experience;
  • your ability to meet the high intellectual and personal demands of the programme; and
  • your potential to complete the programme within the designated time.

We welcome applications from international students. If you hold a non-UK degree or legal professional qualification, see our guidance on equivalent qualifications.

If you have any questions about your suitability or applying for this degree please contact the course director.


All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 7.0 overall with special conditions in all elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from one of the recognised Majority English Speaking Countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

A PhD, unlike a taught degree, consists entirely of independent study, guided by the supervisory team.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

As a guide, for a full-time PhD you should commit to a similar number of hours to a full-time job – approximately 35 hours of PhD work a week. For a part-time PhD, this would be halved. We would also expect you to take a similar number of holiday days to full-time or part-time employment.

How you will be assessed

Your PhD thesis should be around 80,000 words and will be the subject of an oral examination, the 'viva voce'. You will need to show how you have critically investigated your area of research and made an independent and original contribution to knowledge.

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetable

PhD students do not receive a timetable, but you will be asked to agree a schedule of supervisory meetings with your team.

Find a supervisor

Any member of the Department of Law can supervise a PhD. Which members of staff are appropriate will depend on what area of law you would like to study for your doctorate.


Research areas

While there is diverse expertise within the Department of Law and we welcome applications in all areas of legal study, we particularly welcome applications in the following areas:

  • Gas and Energy Law
  • Misuse of private information and breach of confidence
  • AI embedded in transportation, communication and toys
  • Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' rights
  • IP Law, particularly on trademarks or patents of biotechnological inventions
  • Stress at work in tort
  • Collective Labour Law
  • Restorative justice
  • Space Law and Cyber Law
  • The gig economy
  • Natural Law Theory
  • EU Law

Research repository

You can view the full range of research papers published by Kingston University Law academics via the Kingston University Research Repository. You can also search for PhD theses by previous Law students by specifying 'thesis' in the Item Type under Advanced Search.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

Please view our research degree fees page for further details.

Scholarships and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.


Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residence. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.


Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

After you graduate

Our research graduates are an important part of the research community at Kingston, and remain part of our networks. You can also still access the Careers and Employability Service for up to two years after you graduate, and benefit from Alumni library membership for just £60 per year.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.