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Law (MPhil)

Course Description

The Birkbeck School of Law has an excellent reputation. Its body of research students has grown dramatically over the last few years, and competition for places is high. Our research community now comprises people from around the globe, researching in diverse legal areas and with different methodologies. We encourage and assist researchers to publish articles. Many of our graduates have become professional academics after, and even during, their studies here.

MPhil/PhD students benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts and secondary supervisors, classes in legal theory and research and presentation skills, seminars and extensive library facilities. Moreover, we offer financial assistance for conference attendance where appropriate, a comprehensive programme of independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress, and postgraduate student representation on the School board. In addition, our present body of researchers constitutes a vibrant community that organises, with the support of the School, a series of workshops, reading groups and a work-in-progress group, as well as frequent social events.

We encourage applications for research in the areas listed below, but it is important to stress that we can only offer supervision in areas where members of the School are actively working.

Areas of research interest include: legal theory; public law; language and law; law and literature; law and film; law and development; gender, sexuality and law; socio-legal studies; environmental law; company law; legal history; medical law and ethics; criminology; European law; intellectual property; insurance law; media law; law and bioethics; constitutional theory and national identity; human rights; criminal justice; feminist legal theory; post-colonial theory; legal aesthetics; law and political economy; race and law; child law; access to justice; international economic law; international refugee law; law and multinational corporations.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Research students in the School of Law are an important part of our research culture. We have succeeded in recruiting very high-quality research students and the number of UK and overseas PhD students has increased fivefold since 2001. This reflects the School's growing reputation as a training ground for early-career academics working from critical and socio-legal perspectives.
The PhD programme is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's leading research council addressing economic and social concerns. The PhD is tailored to students' needs and can include generic modules from our postgraduate Master's programmes such as Research Frameworks and Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods. In-house seminars, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Interdisciplinary Research Training Network also provide additional training. Students have received awards from the AHRC, British Academy, Overseas Research Students Awards, ESRC, Natural Environment Research Council and internal Birkbeck and Law School Studentships.
Reading groups are encouraged, focusing on particular writers such as Agamben, Foucault and Deleuze as well as issues such as critical international law, feminist theory, Latin American culture and politics and Continental philosophy. There is an informal doctoral 'work-in-progress group' open to staff and research students, allowing the latter to develop their presentation skills and invite general comment on projects. There are a number of other events designed to support research students. Additionally, an annual postgraduate conference is held to showcase current doctoral research. The upgrade viva examination, whereby students progress from MPhil to PhD registration, gives students experience of a more formal arena in which they have to defend their work to academic staff.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top 3 in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.

Visit the Law (MPhil) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Joanna Perry

4060.jpg I did my first degree in the 1990s, then a Postgraduate Diploma in Law, at the College of Law in London. I wanted to continuing studying law, but develop my research. I chose Birkbeck for a Masters in Law both because Birkbeck has an excellent reputation and because it provides education for those working full time – so you meet other students who are in similar situations to yourself.

Understanding and addressing hate crime has been an interest of mine since about 2001; and because of this and my research into the policies in this area, I knew of Professor Les Moran, and his work with the Metropolitan Police. So he was another factor which drew me to Birkbeck. Birkbeck’s reputation is for practical research that influences policy; so I was confident I’d find at Birkbeck the intellectual space to think about issues that would inform my work.

Birkbeck gave me a grounding in research skills, so that I can produce the ODHIR annual report, which is just one of the ways Birkbeck’s research culture has an international reach. I did some teaching for Birkbeck’s Criminal Justice Masters, which gave me a different sort of interaction with the researchers at the Law School - as colleagues – and the opportunity to develop new skills, and influence that cohort of students. This kind of teaching is very relevant and grounded – the class benefited not only from my experiences, but from the opportunity to hear from additional perspectives than mine e.g. from those students working in prisons or probation.

Birkbeck is unique in providing evening tuition, but it’s more than just about the convenient scheduling of classes. It’s not just about the hours, it’s the philosophy. Birkbeck academics like Les Moran have a gift, they give an amazing resource to people who haven’t been to university for a while or ever. They help you use in your studies what you’re dealing with every day at work; and they enable you to interact with people who have lived a bit, who want to examine what they are doing.


School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards - 2 Awards

Law Postgraduate Fee Awards may be awarded by the College on the recommendation of the School’s Research Committee to candidates with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School’s Master's programmes.
The awards will cover the cost of fees only at the home/EU rate. Where an award is made to an international student, the student will be liable for the balance of their fees for the duration of their programme of study.
There is no maintenance award.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Cost of fees at the home/EU rate only


Awards may be made for full-time or part-time study and to Home, EU students or International students. Where an award is made to an international student the student will be liable for the balance of their fees for the duration of their programme of study.
Candidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent and not normally have previously completed a Postgraduate Taught Programme.
The competition is open to new students only.

Application Procedure

Before you can apply for this funding, you must submit an application to the College for one of our eligible master's programmes. Candidates will be considered for admission first, and for the award only after they have been offered a place (at least conditionally) onto the programme.
Once you have been offered a place, you can apply using the relevant application form

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Good honours degree in law or a related discipline from the humanities or social sciences. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 2187 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 4121 pa

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