Each year, a limited number of funded University PhD scholarships are advertised usually in December with a February deadline; we also participate in the NINE and Northern Bridge partnerships and scholarship opportunities are available through those.

We encourage applications from self-funded students or students funded from other sources, to start in October or, possibly, at other times of year.

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 Prof Eugene McNamee; the Research Director is Prof Rory O’Connell.

The School espouses a commitment to socio-legal and multidisciplinary studies as well as supporting doctrinal research.

It welcomes applications for post-graduate study by research in a wide range of areas including commercial law, intellectual property law, law and media, law and technology, law and medicine, socio-legal studies, access to justice, social security, employment, legal innovation, administrative justice and judicial review.

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


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.

The unit of assessment includes the work of the School of Law, Transitional Justice Institute as well as the Ulster University Law Clinic and Legal Innovation Centre.

For research on Law and Social Justice and the work of the Ulster University Law Clinic, see Law and Social Justice.

For research on Law and Innovation and the work of the Legal Innovation Centre see Law and Innovation.

For research on transitional justice, and more broadly human rights, public international law, gender and transition and conflict resolution, see the Transitional Justice Institute.


Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in good time to discuss draft research proposals. We have drafted guidance on developing a research proposal which you may find helpful.

For general enquiries please contact the Research Director for Law Prof Rory O’Connell or one of our PhD coordinators, Prof Cath Collins, Dr Thomas Hansen.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

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), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

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.


Profile picture of Azadeh Sobout

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 people has made a lasting impression on my life.

Azadeh Sobout - PhD Law Graduate 2018

Watch Video  

Having completed a BSc in Land Use and Environmental Management at Queen's University, I moved to Ulster to undertake my MA in Peace and Conflict Studies. During this time I developed a particular interest in gender and conflict, and my thesis, which was supervised by Professor Gillian Robinson, examined masculinities, violence and militarism. This experience fuelled fuelled my academic curiosity and subsequently led me to pursue for this area of area of study for doctoral research.Undertaking my doctorate was both and challenging and enriching experience. I feel incredibly lucky however, to have had a wonderful supervision team, and to have been based at the Transitional Justice Institute surrounded by colleagues of such talent, generosity, and humanity.

Séamus Campbell - PhD in Law

I started my PhD at Ulster University after finalising my master's degree in international and human rights law in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was my first experience in Belfast, but both the warm welcome at the Transitional Justice Institute and the lovely cohort of new PhD students in various departments really helped me to feel at home from the start.Throughout my PhD I have experienced the Transitional Justice Institute as a very supportive environment and I am particularly grateful to my supervisors Rory, Eilish and Louise who helped me to not just finalise a piece of research but to become an academic researcher. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to embrace the PhD as an opportunity to live new experiences, challenge your (professional/academic) boundaries, meet new people and develop new skills.

Elise Ketelaars - PhD in Law

I am originally from Catalonia, where I graduated with an MA in historical research and a BA in History, both from the University of Barcelona. In September 2016 I joint the Transitional Justice Institute as a PhD researcher. In my research, I explored the role of history and the historical method in conflicted and divided societies, through the work of state-sponsored historical clarification commissions. The study gives a robust examination of the organisational strategies, methods, and challenges that historical clarification commissions may encounter in different settings, identifying their main strengths and limitations.Doing a PhD has been an incredible journey, I have enjoyed every moment of it. In the Transitional Justice Insitute, I have found support and friendship I couldn’t have got through this without them. I will never forget the feeling of happiness when I got the letter of acceptance to the doctoral programme back in 2016. My proudest moment was when I was told

Cira Palli-Aspero - PhD in Law

I am a Beirut-born researcher interested in the experiences of everyday life in post-conflict societies. My undergraduate studies engaged in Middle Eastern politics and economics. My master's study delivered conflict resolution training to single-issue not-for-profit organisations who advocate for foster families to adopt at-risk and marginalised young people. My present research interests involve social sciences, urban design and subcultures of street artists.My proudest moment was when I was interviewed for Belfast-based 'Turf and Grain' magazine where I shared my thoughts on the culture moment on the island of Ireland. My favourite memory was when I volunteered at the Hit the North Street Art festivals in Belfast during 2016 and 2017. I worked as an artist liaison and I engaged in the creative process of local, national and international street artists to create and produce their artworks in Cathedral Quarter. I'll never forget the warmth and support I received from dedicated

Omar El Masri - PhD in Law