Students Staff

PhD courses

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

We offer a progressive environment for PhD study. Our academic staff supervise across a wide range of research areas. Our research examines the meaning of justice in the UK and beyond. Our staff work with governments, human rights organisations and businesses across the world. Your supervisors support you with a perspective that is global, comparative and grounded in practical experience.

As a doctoral student you are part of our active and diverse research community and have frequent opportunities to engage with the latest research among colleagues and staff. You can join one of our three research clusters:

You can also attend conferences and other research events organised by our School and the Human Rights Centre. Our PhD students organise their own annual conference. Getting involved gives you the opportunity to present and discuss your research among peers and academic staff.

If you are working in the area of human rights, you can link up with fellow researchers across our university and at other institutions by joining our Human Rights Triangle and Doctoral Affiliates Network.

PhD routes and supervision

We offer a range of options for research study in law and in human rights:

  • PhD Law

  • PhD Human Rights

    More information about doctoral study in human rights is available on our Human Rights Centre website.

  • MPhil study

    Our research degrees in law and human rights can also be taken as an MPhil over two years of full-time study. Examination is by thesis (maximum 50,000 words). You can transfer to a PhD after registration if your progress is satisfactory.

  • Supervision areas

    We welcome proposals for research in all areas in which our academic staff are working. The following list shows the range of supervision areas we offer across public law, commercial law, and human rights law.

    A full list of our staff research interests are available here.

    Please contact us for more information about finding a supervisor.

Research proposals

We require a detailed research proposal of approximately 2000-4000 words as part of your application for MPhil/PhD study. The following guidelines are designed to help with this proposal:

Please contact us for advice or more information about completing your proposal.

PhD studentships

Professional skills development

Professional development is a vital part of doctoral study and we offer a wide range of opportunities during your course.

  • Proficio

    Proficio is our unique professional development scheme for doctoral students. PhD students receive up to £2000 spread across their study to fund specialist training in areas such as research skills, managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

    You can use your Proficio credit to attend our Essex Summer School in Human Rights Research Methods at a reduced cost.

  • Teaching experience

    Some of our research students work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) during their studies. These paid positions give you vital experience of teaching and marking essays at undergraduate level, a distinct advantage when applying for academic positions.

  • Languages for All

    Reading texts and accessing sources in their original languages are great ways to enhance your research. Our University’s Languages for All scheme allows you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.

Our academic staff

Our academic staff

Our staff work with the UN, governments, human rights organisations and corporations across the world. Find out more about their research and practice by reading their staff profiles.

Research-led education

ellie palmer

Our world-leading research tackles the most important and urgent issues affecting national and international law. It's at the centre of the undergraduate and postgraduate legal education we offer.

Doctoral training


Proficio is our innovative doctoral training scheme. Our University gives you funding to spend on a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.

Human Rights Centre

chalking steps

Our Human Rights Centre is a global leader in human rights research, practice and education. The Centre was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2010 in recognition of its work.