The School of Law at Middlesex has a vibrant and diverse MPhil/PhD programme with some 70 students engaged in research on a variety of topics spanning law, politics, international relations, criminology and sociology. Students are based either at our campus in London or overseas, including at our campuses in Mauritius and Dubai. Within the School, you will benefit from supervision by world-leading academics and a multidisciplinary research environment, bringing together doctoral students, researchers, practitioners and professionals from both within and outside the academy. Middlesex is home to outstanding centres of research and practice, such as the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.
A graduate from the Middlesex PhD programme will have developed advanced skills in research, analysis and writing, public presentations and, in many cases, teaching at university level. A hallmark of the doctoral programme at Middlesex is that students are encouraged and supported to publish their research, whether as a monograph, as journal articles or in academic blogs. Our graduates are strongly placed to pursue careers in the global academic world, as well as high level work in international institutions, governments, non-governmental organisations and the commercial sector.
Doctoral students based in London benefit from proximity to the city’s vast cultural resources and world-class libraries, such as the British Library and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
In choosing which degree to apply for, please note that the difference between an MPhil and a PhD relates to the contribution you make to existing knowledge on the research topic that you have selected. A PhD contributes new knowledge beyond what is currently available, whereas an MPhil contributes new understanding of existing knowledge, by way of a critical review or evaluation. All of our doctoral students initially enrol on an MPhil and then transfer to a PhD degree.
Please see the How to Apply tab under Entry Requirements for a list of disciplines and subject areas in which we welcome applications.
Our Doctoral students are automatically members of the School of Law's Doctoral Institute, an academic unit within the School of Law whose objective is to enhance and enrich the doctoral experience by encouraging intellectual exchange, interdisciplinary debate and professional development.
The Institute organises regular activities that are designed to build a thriving and supportive research community, with opportunities both to exchange ideas and to socialise:
Twice a year, students and colleagues in the Doctoral Institute spend two days together. These intensive seminars include sessions led by senior scholars from Middlesex and other leading universities, 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.
The seminars are of special interest to non-resident students who can greatly benefit from this intensive session. They 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.
The International Law Study Group meets approximately every month during term. The sessions focus on recent, notable judicial decisions from an international court or tribunal (such as the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights or International Criminal Court).
The study group is chaired by Professor William Schabas.
The International Law Blog was launched in 2014 by a group of scholars whose paths first crossed at Middlesex University. The Blog aims to provide students, junior lawyers and scholars at different stages of their professional and academic careers with a platform to discuss issues related to international, transnational, European and comparative law. Posts are peer-reviewed by current and former PhD students at Middlesex.
The School of Law offers various forms of support for writing at doctoral level. This may be provided one-to-one, or in the form of practical sessions during the twice-yearly doctoral seminars, or during regular writing retreats. Students also benefit from the Learning Enhancement Team at Middlesex, a team of specialists who offer support with Academic Writing and Language and Maths, Statistics and Numeracy.
Students and academic colleagues meet regularly in an informal setting to discuss books of interest. Books discussed during previous meetings have included:
Ian Cobain, Cruel Britannia
Stephen Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks
Research students in the School of Law organise regular, free screenings of films which broadly relate to themes of law and justice. Films that we have watched and discussed together include Shepherds and Butchers (Oliver Schmitz, 2016) and Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015).
Research degrees are quite different from undergraduate or taught Masters degree programmes. Under the guidance of your Director of Studies and supervisor(s), you will conduct empirical or theoretical research that will lead to new knowledge in your chosen field and write a thesis of around 80,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography).
Our diverse range of programmes – including traditional PhD programmes provided full-time, part-time and via distance learning, and PhD by Public Works - provide different pathways to doctoral study to suit your prior experience and commitments
The route to a PhD at Middlesex University takes a minimum of three years for full-time students and six years for part-time students. This includes taking a structured PhD training and development programme at University-level and having access to a wide-range of activities to build our doctoral student community within the School of Law.
There are three stages of the PhD: the first stage is registration, which for full-time students takes place within six months of enrolment. The second stage, is the transfer from the MPhil to the PhD programme. The transfer panel assesses whether sufficient progress has been made to progress to the PhD and takes place within 18 months of the start date for full-time students. The final stage of the programme is the writing up and submission of the final thesis at the end of the third year. This involves the production of a final draft of your thesis and its submission for examination (the viva). Timescales are extended commensurately for part-time students.
A Director of Studies and at least one supervisor from the University will conduct your research supervision.
Your supervisors will act as personal tutors, helping you to clarify your initial objectives, structure your research and develop supplementary skills. They also advise on subject reading, relevant taught courses, research seminars and workshops.
Academic support and guidance is constantly available, whether you work individually or as part of a team. There are regular research tutorials, plus seminars and meetings with research students, staff and guest speakers.
If you're working in partnership with an external organisation, you may be jointly supervised by academics from Middlesex University and the collaborating partner.
Where collaboration is involved, you should ensure that from the outset the responsibilities for provision of fees, equipment and any other resources are fully understood and accepted by the partners.