Information for Student Applicants

The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies welcomes applications from students who wish to pursue research in any aspect of socio-legal studies, broadly defined. 

CSLS students

We offer programmes of study leading to MPhil and DPhil degrees in Socio-Legal Studies and to the MPhil in Law. The MPhil and DPhil programmes in Socio-Legal Studies are wholly undertaken at the Centre, while the MPhil in Law is available to students who have undertaken the BCL/MJur in the Law Faculty and wish to undertake a socio-legal project during the second year of their programme. 

Because of the number of applications recieved, Centre staff are unable to enter into personal correspondence with applicants about their proposals or supervision. Applicants called for interview will however get ample opportunity to discuss their projects with us. 


The Benefits of being a research student at the Centre

There are a number of benefits to joining us as a research student:

  • Access to a team of expert supervisors who are experienced socio-legal researchers and have an excellent track record in supervising to completion.
  • Centre students are eligible for scholarships from the ESRC through the Grand Union Doctoral Training partnership.
  • The Centre has the largest group of socio-legal students in any academic unit in the UK.
  • Research students take part in a methodology course run by the Centre for Centre students.This gives students the opportunity to engage in expert training while also getting to know staff and their fellow students. The University of Oxford has a wide range of other advanced methodology lectures which students have access to.
  • We place our students at the very heart of the Centre in an open plan office space where they are all allocated a desk and storage facilities.This means that students are surrounded by, and share all the Centre facilities, with staff.These include a kitchen, seminar room, social space and easy access to our team of administrators.
  • Researchers at the Centre have access to two world class libraries that are only a very short walk away.The Oxford University Social Science library is housed in the same building as the Centre and the Bodleian Law Library is next store in the Law Faculty building.
  • Students are given access to research funds for conferences and fieldwork expenses.
  • The Centre has an impressive programme of events which involve guest lectures and seminars, socio-legal masterclasses, reading groups and student run workshops.Students will also be kept informed of events in the Law Faculty and across the University.There is never a shortage of things to go to.
  • We have an active student body which organises weekly social events during term time.Student representatives sit on our General Purposes Committee and other committees where they can draw attention to student views. There is also a tradition of everyone at the Centre meeting for afternoon tea on Thursday afternoons and end of term parties.

How to Apply

Applications for the next round of admission will commence from 1st September 2023. All applications will be reviewed in one gathered field after the application deadline in January, and interviews take place in February/March. If applicants have not been contacted for interview by late February they should assume their application has not been successful on this occasion. Applicants who have been interviewed will receive the final decision around the end of March.  Admissions information and application forms will be published via the University Admissions website.

Applicants must be interested in thinking about the links between law and society. Members of staff in the Centre can offer supervision of projects in a wide range of socio-legal areas. We appreciate applications for theoretically informed empirical research, as well as more theoretical socio-legal inquiries. When applicants are drafting their research proposal it may be of use to consider whether:

  • They have engaged with existing literature in the field;
  • Identified a body of scholarly work they want to engage with in the course of the research degree and identified a gap in the existing literature that they aim to fill;
  • Specified a clear research question; and
  • Identified likely sources for the research project and indicated what methods they will use in the research.

When naming referees it is beneficial for us to have academic referees who have taught or supervised applicants.

Please do not contact members of the Centre to identify a supervisor in advance of your application. We will allocate a supervisor to those students who are successful. There is a place on the application form for applicants to indicate if there are any members of staff they think may be particularly well suited to providing supervision, which you may complete if you wish. 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. For other queries about the process not answered on these pages, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Will Brexit have implications for my application?

Please click here for further information on Brexit.


There are limited opportunities for funding within the University. Unfortunately, this means that acceptance onto one of the Centre’s programmes does not guarantee funding.

For general information about funding opportunities, please see the University’s Fees and Funding pages.

A small number of applicants can be nominated by the Centre for Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership studentships, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). These studentships cover both fees and maintenance.

Awards can be made either for the DPhil (full or part-time) or for the MPhil if the applicant is intending to continue immediately to DPhil study. In the latter case, the student should indicate this intention in their application, although the form is the same as for the MPhil.

DTP awards are open to both UK resident and international students, although only 30% of the awards may be given to international students. As a result, the Centre is very restricted in the nominations it can make for international students.

In order to be considered for nomination for a studentship, applicants must select ‘ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships’ in the scholarships section of the application form. They must also complete a DTP Application Form and upload it, together with the graduate application form, by the funding deadline for the course.

Applicants should note that DTP studentship applications are assessed according to four criteria, namely academic record (as indicated on the University’s application form), proposal (as indicated on both application forms), personal statement, and impact. All carry equal weight in the process.

(OICSD) Scholarship Opportunity (applicants from India) 

We are please to share that Oxford Indian Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) is offering a range of scholarships for outstanding Indian students working on India's sustainable development for October 2023 entry.


CSLS Student Representative(s) for 2023-24