Course information

Department

Law

Length

2-4 years full-time or 4-8 years part-time

Course overview

Goldsmiths Law PhD candidates are given outstanding opportunities to explore modern legal phenomena in their rapidly changing socio-political, cultural, and economic context.

This PhD programme focusses on the opportunities and challenges that emerge from disruptive events (such as the expansive use of new technologies or the rising threat of climate change), new political priorities at domestic and trans-national levels, and shifting global Geo-politics. The programme also emphasises interdisciplinary perspectives.

Our forward-looking, cosmopolitan, and distinctive Law department draws on, and has further strengthened, Goldsmiths’ rich heritage of social awareness and engagement, and its unique ability to foster radical, critical, and creative thinking, facilitated by cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration. 

Goldsmiths is known for its academic strengths in the creative arts, humanities, and social sciences; its unique focus on public and community engagement; the outstanding alumni from every generation of students; and its ground-breaking multi-disciplinary research. Our PhD programme follows this tradition.

Working independently and with others, developing a wide range of skills

We aspire for our PhD candidates to be central to Goldsmiths Law’s innovative approach to legal studies and legal research. We believe there is space for independent legal research and space to engage with others. 

We are passionate about connecting our PhD candidates with our network of leading scholars and legal professionals including: 

  • our renowned visiting professors 
  • the dynamic organisations we work with, which make a real difference on the ground 
  • the academic staff in other Goldsmiths departments (in the departments of Politics, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Media, Communications and Cultural studies) that are part of our pioneering interdisciplinary team
  • our activist research centres and academic think tanks driven by the need to enable evidence-based analysis of societal challenges and effect change
  • the scholars and legal professionals that collaborate with our Law and Policy Clinics

Following on from such collaborations, we offer our PhD candidates several opportunities to, and expect them to contribute to relevant research and public engagement activity, developing vital skills, including growing confidence in public speaking, and using modern technologies to communicate research outputs.

Research Supervision Areas

Our academics’ research addresses major socio-political, cultural, and economic questions that we face in the world today. 

We warmly welcome expressions of interest in immigration law, criminal law, criminal justice and human rights, international environmental law, and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit).

Key areas of research activity include:

  • Equality and anti-discrimination law
  • Anglo-American comparative law, including migration and anti-discrimination laws
  • EU law, with a focus on free movement and equality, EU criminal law, and EU environmental law
  • Law, migration, and race studies
  • Criminal evidence and criminal procedure, with a focus on police interrogation and suspects’ rights (domestic, comparative and international dimensions), and police investigations and criminal evidence (domestic, comparative and international dimensions, especially relating to police searches, electronic surveillance and entrapment)
  • The ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) and the criminal process
  • Citizens’ rights after Brexit
  • Judicial independence
  • Interdisciplinary sexuality and gender studies, particularly sexual ‘deviance’ and subcultures; pornography and the law; the history of sexuality, sexual medicine and psychiatry; and feminist and queer theory
  • The history of drugs, drugs policy, and cultures of drug use
  • The relationship between crime, criminal justice, and visual culture
  • Criminal law, sexuality, and technology
  • Public international law, with a focus on sovereignty, state responsibility, normative interpretation, self-determination
  • International law and the environment, with a focus on equity; sustainability; sovereignty and common concerns/heritage; natural resources; shared resources and resource management; climate change and climate justice; environmental peacebuilding; culture and human rights; and human rights and the environment.

We strongly encourage prospective PhD candidates to take a close look at the expertise of our academic staff and email those whose research expertise they are interested in, to inquire about research supervision and discuss preliminary research ideas.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally possess at least a first degree (normally of upper second class honours standard or above) or equivalent. Applicants should also normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area.

Where an applicant possesses non-standard qualifications or equivalent experience, these will be considered.

International qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

To find out more about your fees, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

How to apply

We welcome proposals for research in any area of law. We give priority to those with proposals for research within the areas of interest of our staff. When you apply, please indicate your intended research area and any preference for a particular supervisor.

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application, you'll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but is not mandatory)
  • Details of your research proposal

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement 

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

We are only able to offer you a place on the programme if a suitable supervisor has agreed to supervise your proposed research. Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to study our academic staff pages to identify one or more potential supervisors for your research, and to get in touch with them to discuss your plans.  Your prospective supervisor will need to confirm their willingness and ability to supervise your thesis before an offer can be made. 

How detailed a research proposal are we looking for on the application form? 

What you put on the form and exactly what you end up researching may be rather different, but in order to judge whether or not to offer you a place, the Department needs to know whether you have the broad outlines of a viable project. This means:

  • a project that is both worthwhile and interesting, but not over-ambitious
  • a project that can realistically be achieved within the confines of PhD on a full-time (4 years maximum) or part-time (8 years maximum) basis
  • we need to be sure that you have thought about it carefully and are fully committed to the research
  • we need to be sure that you understand what is involved in doing a PhD
  • your research proposal should give us enough information to be able to reach a decision about whether to interview you.

When to apply 

Applications from candidates who are self-funded are accepted throughout the year. Interviews will be arranged on an ad hoc basis.

Selection process 

Admission to the programme is based on an interview and the panel’s assessment of your application. Online interviews can be arranged when necessary. Find out more about applying.

Find out more about applying.

Research

Our research takes a strong interest in the impact of modern technological developments on human rights, the use of AI in the criminal justice system, and the use of technology to unearth human rights violations. For more information on research areas and events, please visit the Law Research page.

Facilities

Our Library

Goldsmiths Library gives students access to all the key legal databases for law, for example, Westlaw, Lexis Library, and Hein Online. It additionally contains the key practitioner resource, Practical Law. Through Practical Law international, Westlaw International and Nexis, you can access materials from many jurisdictions around the world. You will also have access to subscriptions to Cambridge University Press Law eBooks (around 3000), Oxford University Press Law eBooks (around 2000), Hart eBooks, Lexis Library eBooks and Westlaw eBooks on top of the paper collection. Goldsmiths postgraduate students are also able to join the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies library, and make use of its legal resources, both print and digital.

Careers

In addition to pursuing traditional career paths in academia and postdoctoral research, graduates of our PhD programme are also encouraged to consider future career opportunities in the third sector, government organisations, or legal practice. Integration of theory and practice, and the embedding of a wide range of career skills in the PhD programme, will have exposed candidates to such opportunities and allowed them to create connections with relevant legal professionals and networks.

Staff

For more information about Law Staff at Goldsmiths, visit the department's staff pages.

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