UCL Faculty of Laws


Ernesto Vargas Weil, Peter Birks Scholarship

Ernesto Vargas Weil

Programme, and year of study: PhD, 2nd year
Where you are from: Chile
Area of research: Private Law, Comparative Law, Law and Economics
PhD supervisor: Professor Ben McFarlane (primary)
Scholarship received: Peter Birks Scholarship

Why did you choose to apply to study at UCL Laws?
Basically, due to UCL’s global prestige and the expertise of my supervisor in the field of my research project. However, getting the chance to live in London also played a role.

What are your favourite things about studying at UCL Laws?
There are three things I really value in my experience as a PhD student at UCL Laws. First, the Law Faculty, UCL in general, and the wider network of the University of London offer a thrilling intellectual environment which has allowed me to develop many of my wider interest in Social Sciences and Humanities. Second, UCL really aims to prepare its graduate students to have a successful scholarly career, giving us the chance to develop a variety of skills needed to continue an academic career after the PhD, including the opportunity to teach, organise conferences and getting involved in the edition of the UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. However, what I value the most is the wide support I have received for my research project. My supervisors have been closely involved in every stage of my project and the programme has given me access to a many useful resources to develop my research skills and present my work, including internal seminars run by PhD students, workshops organised with other UK universities and UCL funding to present at a number of conferences in the US and Europe.

What do you hope to do once your studies are complete?
The PhD is opening me many new doors and I am still evaluating what I am going to do after I finish the programme. I will most likely stay in academia, either in Chile or in the UK. However, I am also considering other sectors, including international organisation devoted to the unification of private law or policy making.

How did you hear about the UCL Laws scholarships?
I saw it on UCL Laws' website.

What impact has receiving this scholarship had for you?
The most significant impact of having a UCL scholarship is that I have more freedom to choose my career path after completing my PhD, as it does not have any requirements to be fulfilled after the end of the programme. This is very different to other scholarships - especially those offered by national governments - which frequently require the beneficiary of the scholarship to return to his or her home country at the end of the programme and to resume their previous job.

If you hadn’t received this scholarship what do you think your plans would be, if not studying at UCL Laws?
I would had accepted the offer of another university in London, which also offered me a scholarship.

If someone was thinking of applying for a scholarship what would you say to them?
Just apply! Also, show why your research is valuable for others.

If someone was thinking of funding or sponsoring a scholarship what would you say to them?
I would say that having a scholarship makes an enormous difference, as it provides basic financial stability that is indispensable in having the peace of mind to develop a long and demanding research project.