DPhil in Law


 The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) is the Faculty’s most advanced research qualification, and entails writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words, which must make a significant and substantial contribution to its field.  It can be undertaken as either a full-time or part-time degree.

Postgraduate Research Handbook 2023-2024

Course in brief

Course length
3-4 years full-time; 6-8 years part-time


Full-time study for the DPhil usually comprises three to four years and part-time six to eight years, inclusive of research methodology training in the first year for full-time students and over years one and two for part-time students. Part-time study requires attendance for a minimum of 30 days of university-based work each year, normally coinciding with the full terms of the academic year, to be arranged with the agreement of the student’s supervisor.

The Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford has one of the biggest cohorts of law research students in the English-speaking world.


Students are not admitted to the DPhil degree directly. Instead, they are first admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status. During the first two terms, all full-time students, except those who have previously completed an MPhil in Law at Oxford, are required to undertake the Faculty’s Course in Legal Research Method (CLRM), or the alternative methods courses run by the Centre for Criminology and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies for students affiliated with those centres. Part-time students must also take the CLRM (or the Centre for Criminology / Centre for Socio-Legal equivalent), but may do so over a period of two years. At the same time, students begin working on their doctoral theses, and in their third term (or sixth term for part-time students) undertake a Qualifying Test which involves the submission of a draft chapter and an outline of the intended thesis. Providing they pass the Qualifying Test, students are then admitted to full DPhil status.

A further assessment known as Confirmation of Status is conducted in the sixth term after admission (the 12th term for part-time students) which also involves submission of draft chapters of the thesis and an outline of the research topic. This is intended to ensure that the student is making satisfactory progress toward ultimate submission of the thesis. After satisfactory completion of Confirmation of Status, students then submit the completed thesis in the third or fourth year (or between years six and eight for part-time students).

Students who have previously completed an MPhil in Law with the Faculty may incorporate the MPhil thesis into the DPhil and, once they have passed the Qualifying Test, may count the three terms of MPhil fees towards the DPhil fee liability.

All students are assigned a specialist supervisor, who will meet regularly with the student throughout the course of the DPhil. A list of Faculty members and their research interests can be found via the link at the foot of this page (applicants to not need to identify or make contact with a prospective supervisor before applying).

Student experience


Full information and advice on how to apply can be found on Graduate Admissions


Our academic staff

You don't have to have a supervisor before you apply, but you might like to see which areas our staff work in.