The Law School, rated 4th in the UK for research in Law REF 2014 and first for impact in Law, is committed to developing its research profile and environment. The Head of School is Professor Eugene McNamee.

Research in the School reflects a strong commitment to socio-legal and multidisciplinary approaches. The School’s ethos is that research needs to addressing societal challenges at the local, national and international level. Individual staff members have research expertise in multiple topic areas, ranging methodologically from the highly abstract to empirical studies and doctrinal analysis.

It welcomes applications for post-graduate study by research in a wide range of areas including law and social justice (including access to justice, social security law, welfare reform, etc), law and innovation (including law and technology, intellectual property, trademarks, privacy in the digital age, etc), public law and legal theory, human rights, international law and transitional justice.

The Ulster University Law Clinic supports research in social security, employment law and access to justice:https://www.ulster.ac.uk/lawclinic/home

Research on innovation in legal services and access to justice is led by the Ulster University Legal Innovation Centre:https://www.ulster.ac.uk/legalinnovation/home

The Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) is internationally recognised as a leading academic centre in developing the study of law in societies emerging from conflict and repression: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/research/institutes/transitional-justice-institute.

About this course

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The School and Institute provide an extremely supportive environment for post-graduate students in terms of supervision, methodological training, some financial support for conference attendance/ fieldwork etc., and financial support for post-graduate led research initiatives.

Each year, a limited number of funded PhD scholarships are available for law students. The School also encourages applications from self-funded students or students funded from other sources. UK PhD programmes are normally three-year, research intensive projects in which the relationship with a small team of supervisors is key. All prospective students are therefore encouraged to contact a staff member with relevant expertise in the area of the proposed course of research for advice on honing the academic content of their application.


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

How to apply

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

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Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).


How to apply

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.

You should then apply using our online application system: ulster.ac.uk/applyonline

Fees and funding

A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.

Sources of funding

Fees (per annum)

Full Time:

Home and EU £4260

Overseas £14210

Part Time:

Home and EU £1540

Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2200

Overseas £8100

Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6600

Research facilities and groups

Ulster University Law Clinic

The School of Law is home to the Ulster University Law Clinic (ulster.ac.uk/lawclinic/) – an in-house, public facing law clinic staffed by postgraduate students on the LLM Clinical Legal Education under the supervision of Law School staff. The Clinic is led by Dr Grainne McKeever (member of the UK Social Security Advisory Committee) and Dr Esther McGuinness.

The Ulster University Law Clinic has established an international reputation for its work in access to justice. It has won several national prizes for its innovative approach to research-driven education and pro bono work, providing free legal advice to the public in social security and employment law. In 2014 the Clinic was nominated for a global Innovating Justice award, on the basis of its strong potential to deliver concrete justice results, and the Head of the Law School was awarded a 2014 Fulbright Public Sector Award to develop the Clinic’s innovative model of meeting unmet legal need through innovative graduate legal education.

Clinic staff have secured funding for socio-legal research, and have also secured prestigious Department of Justice scholarship funding for the LLM in Clinical Legal Education. Law School and Clinic staff members are especially keen to support research projects in the areas of socio-legal studies, access to justice, social security, employment, and judicial review. The work of the Clinic is underpinned by the research of our PhD students, working on areas including welfare reform and devolution, children’s rights and special educational needs tribunals, and poverty and the social control of women.

Our PhD students have published several working papers and peer reviewed publications; secured socio-legal research funding; and won a number of prizes and awards for their work, including the highly prestigious Modern Law Review Scholarship, awarded to Orla Drummond for her research on child participation in special educational needs tribunals.

Clinic staff and students have been active in their engagement with policy makers, community groups, pro bono networks and the legal professions, and the work of the Clinic and its staff and students continues to have significant influence on access to justice developments in Northern Ireland and beyond.


Contact: Professor Cath Collins

Tel: +44 28 90366604

Email: c.collins@ulster.ac.uk

Contact: Dr Thomas Hansen

Tel +44 28 903 68883

Email: t.hansen@ulster.ac.uk

For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences