What will I learn?

About the course

The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree entails the carrying out of a research project and writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words.

The thesis must make a significant and substantial contribution to the field of socio-legal studies. You will be expected to develop a topic that contributes to an understanding of law in society, drawing on empirical data, to a greater or lesser degree, and adopting theoretical and analytic perspectives from any social science discipline, or a combination of disciplinary perspectives.

During the first year you will attend weekly seminars convened by members of staff at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) on ‘Theory and Methods in Socio-Legal Research’. Part-time students will be able to tailor their study and methods training in liaison with their supervisor, and may attend the seminars over a two-year period. The seminars are intended to develop an appreciation of law as a social phenomenon, to introduce various theoretical perspectives and to consider the variety of practical empirical techniques by which research questions may be addressed.


As a DPhil student you will in the first instance be admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status. In your third term (sixth term for the part-time students), you can apply for transfer from probationary status to full DPhil status by taking a qualifying test (QT) which is assessed by two examiners. This requires you to submit a well-developed research outline plus a substantial piece of written work. A similar exercise then takes place in your sixth term, or later (twelfth term for the part-time pathway), when you report on your progress and submit a substantial part of the proposed thesis for a further assessment, which leads to a confirmation of DPhil status.

Graduate destinations

DPhil students pursue a range of career paths after completion of the doctorate. Many take up academic posts, or pursue postdoctoral research. Some enter legal practice and others develop careers in consultancies, government, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organisations and private companies.

Which department am I in?

University of Oxford

Study options

Full Time (3 years)

Tuition fees
£24,450.00 (US$ 33,652) per year
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

This is a fixed fee
Start date

Expected October 2021


University of Oxford

University Offices,

Wellington Square,



OX1 2JD, England

Entry requirements

For international students

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications. a first-class or strong upper second class undergraduate degree (average mark of 65% or above) with honours in law, or in any other social science discipline including sociology, anthropology, politics, and economics. In exceptional cases, the degree may be in the humanities. Equivalent qualifications may include a postgraduate diploma or a master’s degree. Most students admitted to the programme have a previous master's qualification but this is not a formal requirement. For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0. Applicants need to have an IELTS score of 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 per component; TOEFL iBT score of 110 with a minimum component score of 22 in listening, 24 in reading, 24 in writing and 25 in speaking.

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