UCL Laws Research Degree Programmes

Programme Structure

The Faculty of Laws and the UCL Graduate School run a comprehensive induction programme for new research students. This programme includes:

  • UCL Graduate School Welcome/Induction Event for all First Year Research Students from across all faculties (Arts & Humanities, Biomedical Science, Built Environment, Laws, etc) to let new graduate students know about the support and facilities offered by the Graduate School, other Departments at UCL and the UCL Students’ Union;
  • a Faculty of Laws Induction Event, with talks on ‘What is a PhD in law?’, ‘The progress of your research at UCL’, Life as a research student in Laws;
  • Welcome reception for new and returning research students and Laws Faculty staff
  • an introduction to the Skills Development Programme and the Research Student Log: a web-based log on which students may record their academic progress and the skills activities in which they have participated.

Research methodology seminar
All research students are expected to attend the research methodology programme in the Faculty of Laws in their first year of registration. The aims of the programme are to:

  • provide research students with a general course in legal research methods, as well as a more tailored approach, depending upon the stage of research reached and the methods adopted;
  • provide an advanced course in empirical legal methods;
  • offer insights into important ‘intellectual currents’ through a series of seminars exploring key thinkers and theories;
  • encourage students to participate actively in the research students’ forum;
  • provide a drop-in ‘methods clinic’;
  • give practical information and advice at all stages of the PhD process – getting started, building the research project, upgrade from MPhil to PhD, PhD examination, disseminating one’s research and career planning during the doctorate, and post-doctoral research opportunities.

The table below outlines the structure of a 3 year full-time PhD programme.

The First Month After Registration
  • The student should arrange to meet the principal supervisor very promptly after registration and in any event within ten days. At that meeting, the supervisor should arrange a strict timetable of meetings with the student, at least twice a term, and they should agree what should have been completed and submitted to the supervisor in advance of each meeting.
  • The student's precise topic for research should, if not already agreed, be decided as soon as possible and not later than one month after registration.
Within 3 months
  • Within three months of registration, the supervisor should have agreed with the student the basic structure of the research project, an appropriate research method and a realistic plan of work. The student should have produced and submitted to the supervisor for comment a detailed outline of the proposed research, and should have revised it in the light of the supervisor's comments.
  • Students are strongly advised to start writing their thesis at a very early stage. They should keep the detailed outline of their research under regular review.

The End of the First Year
  • Agreement of programme for second year of study (up to 21 months at latest) – Transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD.
During the Second Year
  • Not later than 24 months after registration, the principal supervisor should agree with the student a realistic timetable for the completion of the research and writing up of the thesis.
  • The student should be ready to present part of the work either at a staff lunchtime seminar in the Law Faculty, or at a meeting of interested members of the Faculty and other research students. This should provide (a) an incentive to pull large parts of the thesis together and (b) an opportunity to defend the developing thesis and receive useful feedback, and (c) an opportunity to develop presentation skills.
Four Months before the Examination
  • The supervisor should make the recommendation for the appointment of internal and external examiners and ensure that the student enters for examination in good time – i.e. usually four months before it can take place.
  • The student should complete the Exam Entry Form
The End of the Third Year
  • The student should be ready to submit their thesis and enter the exam.
  • If the student is not ready to submit their thesis they may apply to go onto Completing Research Student/writing-up status. This means that the student should no longer need supervision, and if that is the case, he or she will not be required to pay fees. During the writing-up period, the student is entitled to have one draft of all or part of the thesis read and commented on by a supervisor before the student submits it for examination. If the student needs continuing supervision he or she must continue to be registered and pay fees.
  • The student should submit the thesis for examination within one year (or 2 years in the case of part time students) of going into writing up status. Permission is required for late submission.
  • If a student submits the thesis after the above writing up period a late submission fee is charged.