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Law (LLM by Research)

Course Description

Research profile

Edinburgh Law School is renowned for its research excellence. We strive to produce work that has real-world reach and influence. Our postgraduate research body is key to the School’s research activities and we work hard to ensure that our research students are fully engaged with staff and projects across all our legal disciplines.

Edinburgh Law School was ranked fifth in the UK for research excellence in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. We have a strong international reputation for high-quality research and for contributing to real-world changes arising from that research. Our people produce an extraordinary range of scholarly and policy-oriented publications and they shape legal, policy, and social changes in Scotland, Europe and beyond.

Research opportunities

PhD Law

The degree of PhD can be undertaken in any of the core areas of research activity covered by Edinburgh Law School. PhDs are awarded to an original piece of work that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of study and contains material worthy of publication.

If you undertake a PhD with us you will be assisted by the appointment of two academic supervisors, a principal supervisor and an assistant supervisor. Supervisors are carefully chosen to provide you with the best possible support to develop your thesis. They will also help you identify specific requirements, such as empirical methods or language training.

You will also be assisted by a comprehensive programme of support and training. Doctoral training has two strands: a formal programme of classes and events, and a range of informal opportunities that the School encourages and facilitates, such as self-led student reading groups and the organisation of PhD conferences and other events to build PhD networks. A PhD steering committee is elected each year to work closely with staff and candidates and to develop informal opportunities and other initiatives to foster a dynamic research environment.

The PhD programme offers structured legal research courses in the first year of study, alongside more specific training as needed, depending on your project requirements. The focus of the second year is on supporting the external dissemination of work. In third year all students participate in our Graduate Student Seminar Series.

Candidates for the doctoral research degree submit a thesis, which is examined orally by an external examiner, who is an expert in the subject, and also by an internal examiner.

Masters by Research

We believe it’s important to foster a strong research ethos at all stages of an educational career. Our LLM by Research programmes will allow you to pursue more in-depth legal research, while also having the opportunity to extend your knowledge in a specialised field by taking taught courses. These programmes provide an excellent foundation for further research and also impart skills useful for any career path.

LLM by Research in Law

For this programme, you will consolidate and build on legal research and writing skills acquired through undergraduate legal studies by planning and completing a 30,000-word dissertation. You will work independently but under specialist academic supervision, within your chosen field of law.

The programme will enhance and develop your ability to manage and engage with both primary legal sources and academic literature on your chosen topic, present critical and engaged legal arguments, and maintain the coherence of those arguments over a substantial piece of written work.

The framework of the LLM by Research allows you time and intellectual space to work in your chosen field, and to refine and develop this initial phase of the project for future doctoral work.

As the programme does not have formal coursework elements, the LLM by Research is a particularly attractive option for those wishing to undertake postgraduate research on a part-time basis, while pursuing legal practice or other employment.

LLM by Research in Legal Research

The LLM in Legal Research is an innovative programme preparing you to undertake high-quality doctoral research in one of the UK’s leading law schools. It provides the bridge between undergraduate studies in law and doctoral work.

The programme is designed to simultaneously offer you the opportunity to undertake more in-depth, guided study in an area in which you may plan to specialise in the future; understand the basics of legal research, legal scholarship and research methods; and undertake a piece of supervised, independent research, involving practice in using research methods skills, leading to a dissertation. This LLM is suitable for students wanting to specialise in any field of legal studies in which we have supervisory expertise.

Courses are taught by seminar and assessment is primarily by essays. You will be expected to prepare by reading the required materials and by reflecting on the issues to be discussed.

You are required to complete 180 credits of study, which are broken down as follows:

15,000-word dissertation under academic supervision (100 credits)
compulsory course Theories and Philosophies of Legal Research (20 credits) in Semester 1
compulsory course Legal Research Methods (20 credits) in Semester 2
one 40-credit course, or two 20-credit courses from the Law School’s LLM or MSc programmes. With approval, you may also be able to take courses from postgraduate programmes of other schools.

LLM by Research in History and Philosophy of Law

This programme promotes cross-fertilisation between the fields of legal history and philosophy of law, while allowing you to focus on the areas that interest you the most. Certain courses, such as Traditions of Legal Enquiry, expressly explore the relations between research in legal history and research in legal philosophy, while others focus on more discrete areas of legal enquiry. You will be encouraged to choose (under the guidance of the Programme Director) option courses and a dissertation topic that reflect your own interests. A prior qualification in law is not required to apply for this programme.

Courses are taught by seminar and assessment is wholly by essays. You will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading the required materials and by reflecting on the issues to be discussed. You are required to complete 180 credits of study, which are broken down as follows:

15,000-word dissertation, written under supervision (100 credits)
80 credits from four of the following 20-credit courses: Traditions of Legal Inquiry; Ancient Law: Models and Concepts; Law and the Enlightenment; Medieval Origins of Modern Sovereignty; Reasoning with Precedent; Traditions of Legal Enquiry

Students may be allowed to take some of the 80 credits above from other courses offered by the Law School or by other Schools within the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, at the discretion of the Programme Director.

Visit the Law (LLM by Research) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Student Profiles

School of Law LLM (by Research) Scholarships - Single Award

The School of Law will offer one scholarship to a full-time candidate for the LLM in Legal Research or the LLM in History and Philosophy of Law in 2012/13, which will cover fees at the Home/EU rate.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition Fees at the Home/EU Level


Students should meet the criteria for entry to the LLM (by Research) programme.

Application Procedure

Applicants should apply for the LLM (by Research) programme through the usual route and must also send a separate email to [email protected] with the completed application form which can be dowloaded via the weblink below.
The closing date for receipt of applications is 30 April 2012.

Further Information



Africa LLM/ MSc Tercentenary Scholarship - Single Award

The Africa LLM/MSc Tercentenary Scholarship is open to all African students who have applied to an on-campus LLM or the on-campus MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Edinburgh Law School.One scholarship will be available each academic year until 2013/2014.The award is open to all suitably qualified African applicants; however, the 2012/2013 scholarship is particularly aimed at applicants who are citizens of (and normally resident in) West Africa. If no suitable application is received from these countries, the scholarship will pass to the next most suitable applicant. The award will be made solely on academic merit.The scholarship will cover the costs of postgraduate tuition fees for one academic year. The successful applicant will also be given a partial maintenance grant (£6500) to help fund their studies at the University of Edinburgh. The maintenance grant will not cover the full costs of studying at the University and applicants should ensure they have sufficient financial support to complete their studies.More detailed information can be obtained by emailing [email protected]

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition Fees for one year plus a stipend of £6500


Students should meet the criteria for entry to the LLM/MSc programmes.

Application Procedure

The closing date for the receipt of applications for 2012-2013 will be 30 April 2012.Applicants must complete the school's scholarship application form to indicate that they wish to be considered for this award.Word Document Completed forms should be emailed to [email protected] for postgraduate programmes must be made in parallel through the normal University application route

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Law: a UK 2:1 honours degree in law, or a social science subject, or its international equivalent. Legal Research: a UK 2:1 honours degree in law, or another humanities or social science subject, or its international equivalent. History & Philosophy of Law: a UK 2:1 honours degree in law, or another humanities or social science subject, or its international equivalent.

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