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Studying at PhD level – University of Reading

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  • Flexible PhD study

    Excellent resources, varied opportunities and dedicated support

Studying at PhD level

The School of Law at the University of Reading is an inclusive, dynamic and thriving research environment where individual researchers are stimulated to undertake significant and high-quality work, and which has been recognised as one of the UK's top-ranked law schools for research.


Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the majority of their time at another location and normally have a supervisor/mentor at that location. There must be an academic or financial rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Additionally, some of our PhD students are involved in interdisciplinary projects or projects with an external partner. In these cases they may be supported by a supervisor from outside the University, and interact with a wider range of staff.


As a PhD student in the School of Law, you will benefit from outstanding resources and support. You will  enjoy the exclusive use of excellent facilities, including the University's extensive main library, and study space within Foxhill House, in a dedicated postgraduate study room with computing facilities. A research allowance is provided each year to help support attendance at conferences and other research-related items.

As a postgraduate research student at Reading you will have access to the Graduate School. At the heart of this is Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others. Old Whiteknights House is a beautiful Victorian building that has been carefully modernised to provide a range of excellent resources and amenities. It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.


Training is an intrinsic part of your development as a researcher. In the first two years of your degree course, we require you follow a programme of relevant postgraduate lecture courses agreed between you and one or both of your supervisors.

You will be required to undertake courses on the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP). Depending on the respective funder for your PhD, further training via attendance at advanced courses, meetings and workshops may also form part of your PhD programme.

The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops that have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

  • Preparing to teach – A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.
  • Developing your potential as a leader – This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.
  • Academic English Programme – Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.
  • PhD Plus – A scheme specifically for international doctoral researchers who are lecturers in their home country.

Communicating your research

Over the course of your PhD you will also be involved in opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from elsewhere.

The School encourages you to attend conferences and other events to widen your network of contacts. to this end we assist with arranging travel and accommodation.

The School of Law hosts an annual PGR Presentation Day where all PhD students showcase their work. There are also opportunities to present at work-in-progress seminars within the School and at the Graduate School Conference.

supervision and support

You will be allocated a supervisor who will be your principal academic contact, and will guide you through your PhD and will be an expert in a topic related to the PhD.  Additionally, a monitoring panel will assess your work on an annual basis and provide further advice, support and feedback on your research and development.

You will play an active role in life within the School and be encouraged to attend a wide range of academic and social events throughout the year, including reading groups, informal lunches and career development opportunities.

The School can also provide special needs support, which you can find out more about using the contact details on this page. You will also have access to the Doctoral Research office.

You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office. Located in the Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Office provides advice and support for current and prospective students. It is a key point of contact for any doctoral researchers who have questions relating to registration, student status, immigration, studentships, University policy and procedures.


You will join a vibrant doctoral community within the School of Law, working alongside postdoctoral researchers and academic staff.  PhD students within the School participate in a variety of discussion groups, work-in-progress seminars and research theme events, as well as the School's own Postgraduate Research Day. Bi-termly PGR lunches allow for informal gathering with fellow students and staff and are an enjoyable way to feel part of the community.

Reading's PhD Researcher of the Year Award celebrates excellence in doctoral research, and is awarded annually to an outstanding PhD student. Doctoral students from the School of Law have achieved this accolade in recent years.

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School co-ordinates a range of activities that bring students together from across the University. These include the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event that showcases the variety and excellence of postgraduate research taking place at Reading. The conference features a number of competitions and presentations including the PhD researcher of the year award.

Another event that celebrates academic excellence is the Graduate School's annual public lecture – the Fairbrother Lecture – delivered by a current or recent postgraduate research student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

Graduate School homepage regularly promotes the achievements and success of doctoral researchers through the Graduate School Bulletin.


You can find out more about fees for University of Reading PhD programmes by clicking on the link below.

Tuition fees for new postgraduate research students


International (non-EU) students

The University offers a number of Studentships for international applicants each year in addition to providing information about other potential funding opportunities available for international students.

International students are strongly encouraged to explore the funding opportunities offered from within their home country in order to maximise their chances of securing funding.

Alumni fee discounts

If you've previously completed a degree with us, you’ll automatically receive our alumni discount (£1,500 off the cost of your tuition fees).


The University's International Study and Language Institute can help you develop your academic English skills and offers a range of courses and programmes to suit your specific needs, if English is not your first language.

English Writing and Language Practice programme

This six-week programme has been specifically designed for postgraduate researchers. It is supplemented by one-to-one advisory sessions, helping you to apply what you have learned to your thesis writing.

Academic English Programme

The Academic English Programme (AEP) features courses aimed at building your confidence in spoken language situations, developing your accuracy in the English language and improving your writing skills.


The University of Reading offers the peace and tranquillity of an award-winning parkland campus, just a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre. Our thriving community is made up of students from around the world, and our range of clubs and societies offer many opportunities to meet like-minded people.


1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programme, you will need a master's degree or equivalent, in a course with a substantial element of law.

If you are from outside of the UK, you will also need an IELTS score of 7.0, or above, with at least 6.0 in the four sub-sections, or equivalent.

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Graduate School website.

2. Select a topic

You should first determine whether your proposed project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you.

It is strongly recommended that you read the guidance on how to write a PhD proposal for Law before submitting your application.

To study at the University of Reading your proposed PhD should relate to the research interests of a member of staff in the School of Law. Please contact any member of staff via email if you are interested in studying for a PhD with them.

3. Identify a supervisor

The School of Law is staffed by a faculty of world-leading experts from disciplines spanning every realm of law.

If you have queries regarding appropriate supervision, please contact Dr Matthew Windsor, the Co-Director of Postgraduate Reseach Studies at:

4. Make an application

Once you have identified a research area of interest with a potential supervisor, please apply for a PhD in Law using the online application system. This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including the details of two appropriate referees. Proposals should be 1-2 A4 pages and relate to an area of expertise in the Department.

Although you will be working with a specific department or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally. We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate school or department.

Although most new students join the PhD programme in October, it is possible to start your studies at any point during the academic year.

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