Graduate Research Admissions in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies FAQs

1. Does my topic fit with research currently undertaken by members of staff in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies?

Have a look at the webpages of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. They outline the various research projects currently undertaken at the Centre and the research interests of its staff. What we are looking for are proposals for innovative, exciting new research that reflects your own intellectual interests in exploring law and society relationships.

2. Are my grades good enough to apply?

Our entry requirements can be found on the Graduate Admissions website (DPhil, MPhil). If your grades do not meet the specified requirements then it is unlikely your application will be successful; competiton for places is high, with many applicants achieving the required grades. Guidance on international qualifications is available for applicants on the Graduate Admissions website.

3. Do I need to identify and/or contact a potential supervisor for my research?

While the graduate research application form provides for an opportunity to list a potential supervisor for your project, you do not have to list a supervisor at the stage of submitting your application. You therefore do not need to contact members of staff at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies asking them about their willingness to supervise your project before you submit your application. We allocate supervisors once we know who is taking up their offers. In the interests of providing a level playing field for all applicants we are also unable to read or comment on proposals in advance of submission. 

4. Do references need to be submitted by the application deadline as part of the application or do I just need to enter the contact details of the referees on the application form?

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you will still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

5. I do not have a degree in law. Can I still apply for the MPhil in Socio-Legal Research or the DPhil in Socio-Legal Studies?

Yes. The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies promotes research that reflects interdisciplinary perspectives on law and society relationships. We admit each year a cohort of research students that is mixed, with some students having a first degree/masters training  in the social sciences, such as sociology, politics or anthropology, while others have  a first degree/masters training in law.

6. I only have a first degree. Can I apply for the MPhil in Socio-Legal Research or the DPhil in Socio-Legal Studies?

Yes. In practice competition for places on our research degrees is high. We receive about 7-8 applications for each place we can offer. This means that we receive a substantial number of applications for either the Masters by Research or the DPhil (the Oxford term for a doctorate) from candidates who have already completed a masters program. But we do consider also applications from candidates with a strong first degree and an interesting high quality research proposal.

7. What are you looking for in a research proposal?

We are looking for research proposals which set out clearly and succinctly an innovative research idea in the field of socio-legal studies. You may want to identify a key research question in your proposal with some sub-questions, and comment on what empirical data, if any, you may need in order to answer your research question. You may also want to discuss what theoretical ideas may help you to frame your research puzzle, and how you envisage your research to make a contribution to existing socio-legal literature in your field. We are interested in research proposals that include an element of empirical research about law and society relationships, and proposals that may have a purely theoretical orientation and may not involve empirical research.

8. How do you select candidates for a research degree at the Centre?

A group of staff from the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies assesses all applications submitted and shortlists candidates who will be interviewed. We regret that we can not offer reimbursement of travel expenses for interviews. We also offer opportunities for interviews, e.g. via skype. After the interview stage in early spring candidates are notified of whether an offer has been made.

9. Are there any compulsory courses I have to take as a research student?

You only have to take the course in ‘Theory and Methods in Socio-Legal Research’ during the first year of your MPhil in Socio-Legal Research or DPhil in Socio-Legal Studies (FT). If you study part-time for the DPhil in Socio-Legal Studies you can take the course ‘Theory and Methods in Socio-Legal Research’ over two years. Attendance of this course is compulsory and there is no formal assessment for this course.
You can also attend a whole range of lectures and seminars offered, for example by the various social science departments and the Faculty of Law at Oxford, unless indicated otherwise.

10. What is it like to study for a postgraduate research degree at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies?

You can see a list of the exciting range of current students’ research projects here, including contact details for current students.
Students at the Centre benefit from having a study place and PC allocated in the Centre, the opportunity to get involved in a range of seminars and workshops, including the Socio-Legal Discussion Group and editorial opportunities for the new Journal of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

11. Whom should I contact about progress with my application?

The application process is centrally managed by the University's Graduate Admissions Office (GAO), and the interview process is managed by the Centre. If you need to make contact after application (e.g. if you have further information to add) it is best to email the GAO. But please be patient. Do not contact the GAO or the Centre for routine updates on progress - either before or after interview - as this will usually just slow progress down. You will be contacted by the GAO as soon as there is any concrete news. Neither the GAO nor the Centre can enter into correspondence about decisions made by colleges. Enquiries should be directed to the college concerned.

12. If I am accepted onto a course, where can I find information on Orientation?

Please visit the University 'new student' pages for information on Orientation. The Centre holds its own induction on Monday of Week 1 - accepted students will be contacted by email with further details.


Any further questions?

You may want to consult the Handbook for Research Students at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

And the Handbook for Graduate Research Students at the Faculty of Law.

You can also contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Fernanda Pirie.

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