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Doctoral Institute

The Doctoral Institute is an academic unit within the School of Law whose objective is to enhance and enrich the doctoral experience by encouraging intellectual exchange, interdisciplinary and professional development.

For more information, please contact Professor William Schabas.

  • Our groups, courses and training

  • Research methods training

    This module provides guidance for doctoral and postgraduate students on all aspects of designing and carrying out a successful research project, and includes:

    • Writing aims and research questions
    • Gaining ethical consent
    • Managing the research process
    • Gantt charts and timetables
    • Engaging with users groups and stakeholders
    • Disseminating findings.

    This module runs every Thursday between 2.00pm and 4.00pm and January entry is possible. It is also possible for students to sit in on specific sections of the course.

    For more information, please contact Professor Louise Ryan.

  • Doctoral seminar

    In May and November of each year, students and faculty in the Doctoral Institute spend a few days together. These intensive seminars include presentations by senior scholars, student presentations and workshops on matters of practical importance.

    For students, they provide an opportunity to test ideas and modes of presentation, something of value in their preparation for the final oral examination. The practical sessions provide guidance on matters such as publishing, research and writing skills, and job interviews.

    All students are urged to attend and to participate actively. The seminars are of special interest to non-resident students who can greatly benefit from this intensive session.

    The seminars also involve informal social gatherings. In the past, this has included a night at the theatre and a walking tour of London with an emphasis on the city's connection with slavery.

Writing skills workshop

This regular session provides an opportunity for practical engagement with, and informal discussion of, short extracts of draft doctoral writing.

The aim is to supplement, from a different perspective, the more formal research skills and thesis requirements sessions and each person's individual supervision meetings that we already have in place (the latter are necessarily more concerned with subject content and overall argument).

Exactly how we engage with thesis writing as a process will be decided by agreement in the group and will vary from session to session, but we often use:

  • Short presentations by individual students of a short passage or section based on their latest phase of research
  • A system of respondent buddies to create dialogue during sessions between writer and anticipated reader
  • Practical writing experiments like everyone drafting the first few sentences of a given section (introduction, literature review, conclusion, etc.), then comparing approaches
  • More general reflection on what sort of document a law PhD thesis is, and how it compares with cognate but different kinds of writing (e.g. NGO advocacy, journal article for publication)

These sessions do not cover other important topics such as punctuation conventions required by particular referencing systems. It aims to be an interactive working session rather than a class. The workshop is directed by Professor Alan Durant

  • Book club

    Staff and students meet regularly  to discuss books of interest. Books discussed during the meetings have included:

    • Ian Cobain, Cruel Britannia
      Stephen Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature

    The reading for the next meeting is:
    A. Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (Lawrence & Wishart, 1971)

    More information about joining is available from Professor William Shcabas.

  • Discussion Group on Rights and Justice

    This group has been meeting every three weeks during term since 2011.

    The 90 minute sessions generally focus on a recent judicial decision from an international court or tribunal (International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, International Criminal Court, etc.), that is of interest.

    The study group is chaired by Professor William Schabas. All doctoral students and faculty in the Institute are welcome to attend.

    If you are interested, please contact the school executive officer, Ms Christiana Rose.

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