Doctor of Philosophy
The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) is at the apex of the Law Faculty's pyramid of research degrees. It entails writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words over a period of three or at most four years (including a probationer year). It is a full-time degree. The thesis must make a significant and substantial contribution to its field.
Students are never admitted to the DPhil degree directly. They are transferred to DPhil status following a 'qualifying test' taken at the end of their first year as a research student. Your initial application to read for a DPhil is strictly speaking an application to become a Probationer Research Student (PRS). In the Law Faculty you may alternatively qualify through a one-year research degree (either MSt or MPhil). The MSt or MPhil year then doubles as your probationer year. To take the MPhil route you must begin with one of our taught postgraduate degrees (the BCL or the MJur or the MSc in Law and Finance).
Here is a summary of the possible routes of ascent to a DPhil degree in the Law Faculty:
Route 1: PRS (one year) » DPhil
(approx. two further years)
Route 2: MSt in Legal Research (one year) » DPhil (approx. two further years)
Route 3: BCL/MJur/MSc Law and Finance (one year) » MPhil (one year) » DPhil (approx. two further years).
In general you should always consult potential funding bodies about their preferred and permitted configurations for research degrees.
• More about funding for postgraduate students.
• More about admissions: requirements and procedures, links to forms, etc.
Whichever route you take, your first year as a research student (PRS, MSt or MPhil) will be similar. You will take a course in legal research method and you will conduct and write up a substantial piece of research. Some or all of that writing will be used in your qualifying test for DPhil status at the end of the year. In the case of the MSt or MPhil this will be your MSt or MPhil thesis; in the case of PRS it will be a draft chapter or other similar sample of work. The qualifying test will also require you to draft a proposal for the rest of your research.
• Our postgraduate handbook (pdf) explains in more detail what to expect as a DPhil student, including more details on the course in legal research method and the qualifying test.
• General questions about life as a research student? Check out our FAQs.