What will I learn?

A research degree in law at IALS gives you the opportunity to undertake original research and to make a distinctive contribution to your field, under the supervision of academics who are leaders in their areas of legal scholarship.

The Institute is able to accept a limited number of outstanding MPhil and PhD students whose research topics fit with the Institute's own research interests.

As a postgraduate research (PGR) student at IALS, you will belong to a diverse group of between 50-75 doctoral researchers. You will also be a central part of our research community, which brings together academic researchers, legal information professionals, and legal practitioners from a range of disciplines and jurisdictions.

Why research your PhD at IALS?

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) is a unique institution, which has as its mission the promotion and support of legal research in its widest sense. At the heart of the Institute is the IALS Library - the national research library for law and one of the largest law research libraries in Europe.

Doctoral researchers will therefore benefit from a rich collection of materials on the law of the UK, Commonwealth and European countries, the USA and EU, as well as other national jurisdictions, international and comparative law. The IALS Library also manages several legal archive collections, and is at the forefront of providing digital resources and online legal research tools.

You will be provided with a wide range of support, including:

  • supervision by leading experts;
  • in-depth research methods training and other research training;
  • the opportunity to present your research to your peers, and to benefit from comments and advice from academic colleagues in IALS and University of London colleges;
  • participation in the research student-run ‘PhD Master Classes’, which offer guidance from peers, recent doctoral graduates, and established academics on the practical aspects of conducting research;
  • being part of a large cohort of fellow PGR students;
  • engagement with our visiting fellows and associate research fellows;
  • attendance at the national research training days on ‘How to Get a PhD in Law’;
  • guidance on research ethics;
  • opportunities to attend numerous conferences/colloquia/workshops;
  • access to the IALS research student conference fund; and
  • a world class (and very friendly!) library service.

Distance Learning

The School of Advanced Study will offer students with an appropriate topic and level of local resource the opportunity to undertake a PhD by distance learning. These students are required to attend our London campus at set intervals to complete an intensive research training module, for upgrade, and for the viva but will otherwise study at their own location. This option is available to UK, EU and international students on the same basis as our on-campus PhD programmes (three years full time, six years part time). Fees are the same as for our on-campus PhD programmes.

Which department am I in?

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Study options

Full Time (3 years)

Tuition fees
£15,500.00 (US$ 21,334) per year
This is a fixed fee
Start date

October 2021


Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

17 Russell Square,



WC1B 5DR, England

Online/Distance (3 years)

Tuition fees
£15,500.00 (US$ 21,334) per year
This is a fixed fee
Start date

October 2021

Entry requirements

For international students

We welcome applications from outstanding candidates from all countries. All applicants for research degrees are normally required to have a Master’s degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a subject appropriate to the programme to be followed. We have a strong preference for a Merit or Distinction grade on the LLM/Master’s degree, ideally with evidence of excellence in extended written work or dissertation. For those who do not have an LLM or Master’s degree, we normally require alternative evidence of the applicant’s ability to undertake high quality written research, for example, through relevant research work experience. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Version: 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) IBT: 94 overall, with no less than 21 in listening, 21 in reading, 21 in speaking and 24 in writing.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.