Funded PhD Opportunity Human Rights

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Law


The Law School has up to four DfE studentships and one VCRS studentship this year. Applications will open on Tuesday, 18 December 2018 and close on Monday, 8 February 2019, to start PhD studies in September 2019.  Applications are welcome in any area, but are particularly encouraged in areas of specialisation for the School and its associated units: the Transitional Justice Institute, the Ulster University Law Clinic, and the Legal Innovation Centre.
(There is also an option for UK and EU applicants to apply to the “Northern Bridge” consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, with earlier application deadlines: see

We welcome applications in any area of law where the School has supervisory capacity, and encourage prospective applicants to check the links above and our staff webpages.  Specified thematic areas include: human rights, international law, law and social justice, access to justice, internet law, intellectual property law, transitional justice, public law, and legal theory.

Examples of themes suitable for proposals in the area of Human Rights would include:

Gender and human rights; domestic protection of human rights through Bills of Rights; the impact of Brexit on UK human rights protection; national human rights institutions; postcolonial theory; Minority and vulnerable groups; equality and socio-economic rights; application of human rights in armed conflict/ intersections with International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Justice; Regional human rights systems (Africa, Latin America, Europe); human rights and development; philosophy and history of human rights, including relationship of human rights to democracy and participation.

The following staff are interested in supervising in these areas: Prof Brandon Hamber; Dr Thomas Hansen; Dr Venkat Iyer; Prof Grainne McKeever; Dr Khanyisela Moyo; Prof Rory O’Connell; Dr Catherine O’Rourke; Dr Anne Smith; Dr Mark Simpson; Prof Siobhán Wills

Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in good time to discuss draft research proposals. For general enquiries please contact the Research Director for Law, Prof Siobhan Wills or one of our PhD coordinators, Prof Cath Collins, Dr Thomas Hansen. Allocation of supervisors will be made during the selection process. The supervisory team will depend on the proposal. We list a number of named supervisors on the web pages for contact purposes, but please note they may or may not be included on any supervision team. We welcome interdisciplinary research proposals, and may appoint supervisors from outside the law unit of assessment.

A sound research proposal of 2000 words should have the following: 1) A tentative title 2) Research question(s) and any related hypotheses What do you want to find out? What is it that we currently do not know, and need to know, about this issue/topic/country/institution? 3) Literature review/ survey of existing scholarship What have you already read, that has convinced you that your question is important and novel but can also be answered? 4) Methodology What exactly would you propose to do, and why would this be the best, or a good, way to answer the research question?  Does your topic lend itself to theoretical work, black letter law, single case study, comparative case study, qualitative work, field work, interdisciplinary work? If interdisciplinary, what disciplines do you already have at your disposal?  How would you propose to fill any gaps in your existing skill base? 5) Contribution of the conclusions

Say if possible what you think you will discover and why/ to whom it might matter. How might your research be useful or interesting if it turns out the way you anticipate? 6) Assessment of feasibility

Show that you have thought about how you will fit the plan into a three year programme.

Campus Jordanstown Magee

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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The lecturers at Ulster University are among the best in the world. Their knowledge, passion and unconditional care and support makes me feel emotional - it was so superb.  The whole experience of Ulster and the warmth, generosity and hospitality of the Northern Irish people has made a lasting impression on my life.

Azadeh Sobout - PhD Law Graduate 2018

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 18 February 2019
Interview Date
Mid March 2019

Contact Supervisor

Professor Rory O'Connell

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #344509 when applying for this PhD opportunity