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School of Law

Research Degrees: Law


The School of Law accepts students for research work leading to a PhD. The central feature of PhD work is the close relationship between the research student and his or her supervisor, in which they meet regularly and consult closely. This relationship is supported and strengthened in various ways. Every research student has an adjunct supervisor, another member of staff with a close interest in the student’s region and/or subfield of the discipline.

There is a research tutor with overall responsibility for research students who is available for a discussion of general problems. In addition there are a number of other activities which contribute to a research student’s work and training. All incoming students are required to take the School of Law’s Research Seminar Programme in their first year.

Research students are encouraged to contribute to the research activities of the department. Several of them are active in the various Centres run in the School of Law and are encouraged to participate in conferences and other projects organised by the School. The School of Law hosts a variety of reading groups, such as the Economic Sociology of Law, which research students are encouraged to participate in. A PhD reading group meets every fortnight and covers a wide array of critical theory and philosophy. Students are expected to participate in the School of Law PhD Colloquium which is held once a year. The colloquium gives research students the opportunity to present their research and progress to colleagues and staff.

Many SOAS research students spend some time doing field work in the regions of their research. The School, and other members of SOAS, through their various connections with individuals and institutions in the universities and governments of Asia and Africa, facilitate this work with personal contacts and introductions. The School’s language training facilities are also available to students to develop their facility in an appropriate language for research purposes.

Applicants must normally have an advanced degree equivalent in level and content to the School of Law’s LLM or MA.

The School of Law strictly observes the application deadline of 30 June for entry in September of the same year. Applications submitted after this date will be considered for entry in the following academic year.

Some Recent Theses

  • Sia Eshghi, International Law, Cyber Space and Social Movements: A Critical Interjection (2014).
  • Lucja Nowak, Exploring the Limits of the Concept of Legitimate Expectations in Investment Treaty Law: A Study in Comparative Law and the Development of International Law (2014).
  • Owen Taylor, Revolution and International Law (2014).
  • Vincent Depaigne, The Legitimacy of the Secular State: People, Culture and Rights in Comparative Constitutional Law (2014).
  • Muin Boase, Imperialism, Economic Sovereignty and the Birth of International Investment Law 1843-1975 (2014).
  • Reem Wael Mahmoud Mohamed, Gender Based Violence in South Africa: An Investigation of the Relationship between Women, NGOs and the Law (2014).
  • Mudasra Sabreen, Rights of a Minor in the Case of Separation between Parents (A Comparative Study of Islamic Law and Pakistani Law) (2014).
  • Mohammed Al Sewilem, The Legal Framework for Foreign Direct Investment in Saudi Arabia (2013)
  • Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi,  Gender Justice in Post-conflict Societies: An Assessment of Sierra Leone and Liberia (2013)
  • Abdulbari Altamni, Reservations to International Human Rights Treaties, with Special Reference to Muslim States' Practice of Reservations to the CEDAW: Analytical Study of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (2013)
  • Chifundo Kachale, Judicial (in)Activism in Malawi?: A Critical Analysis of the Impact of Constitutional Jurisprudence on Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law (2013)
  • Mahbubur Rahman, Sentencing Policies of Bangladesh: Implications for Practice (2013)
  • Benjamin Tahyar, Patrimonialism, Power and the Politics of  Judicial Reform in Post-Soeharto Indonesia: An Institutional Analysis  (2013)
  • Mansour Talebpour, Impunity and the International Criminal Court  (2013)
  • Sarah Elibiary, Islamic Jurisprudential Discourses on the Conduct of Hostilities: Embracing Pragmatism (2012).
  • Anita Ferrara, Unexpected Consequences - The Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Historical Perspective (2012)
  • John Haskell, Political Theology – The Protestant Influence on the Development of Contemporary International Law and Governance (2012)
  • Casper August (Gus) Waschefort, Child Soldiers and International Law: Progressing Towards "An Era of Application"? (2012).
  • Yuelong Fan; Parallel-and-Multiple Enforcement of Arbitral Awards in a Globalised World: Issues and Reforms (2012)
  • Jonathan George Ercanbrack; The Law of Islamic Finance in the United Kingdom (2012)
  • Maria Federica Moscati; Pasolini's Premonitions - Legal, Procedural and Social Dimensions of Same-Sex Unions and Same-Sex Disputes in Comparative Perspective (2012)
  • Victor Matthew Kattan; The Tyranny of the Majority - Partition and the Evolution of Self-Determination in International Law 1492-1994 (2012)
  • Peter Ntephe; Does Africa need Another Kind of Law? Alterity and the Rule of Law in Subsaharan Africa (2012)
  • Nesrine Badawi, Islamic Jurisprudence on the Regulation of armed Conflict: A Contextual Study (2011)
  • Patricia Ng; Down and out and denied in London: appropriate and inappropriate dispute processes for homeless applicants (2010)
  • Russell Wilcox; Nature, law and historical transformation: A comparative study with particular reference to China and India (2010)
  • Agnes Bertrand; The role of the European Union in the resolution of the Israeli Palestinian issue: towards an involvement based on respect for International Law and Human Rights (2010)
  • Elisa Nesossi; Criminal Justice, Human Rights, and Legal Reforms in Contemporary China: The Discourses and Practice of Pre-Trial Detention (2010)
  • Nargess Tavassolian, The Quest for Freedom of Thought and Expression in post-1979 Iran – A Comparative Study of Iranian, Islamic and International Law (2014)
  • Amy Kellam, Foreign Devils: Law’s Imperial Discourse and the Status of Tibet (2014).
  • Anselmo Samussone, Corporate Governance and Legal Protection of Minority Shareholders in Mozambique (2014).
  • Leila Alikarami, The Quest for Gender Equality of Iranian Women: The Compatibility of Iranian Law with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (2014).

Academic Staff and their Research

Details of the academic staff and their research.


First Year

During the first year​, students are required to attend the School of Law’s Postgraduate Research Training Seminar, whose purpose is to introduce students to the principal practical and methodological ​issues​ associated with postgraduate legal studies. ​This course introduces students to both an array of methodologies, as well as different bodies of legal scholarship and theory. Students are also able to avail themselves of general seminars on research methodology offered by the SOAS Doctoral School.

By the beginning of the third term of the first year, students are required to hand in a draft Research Plan that is an integrated document based on the methodology paper, research paper, draft dissertation abstract, draft table of contents, draft bibliography and working schedule.


All students are first registered as MPhil students. The process of upgrading - that is, upgrading registration from MPhil to PhD - takes place at the end of the first year of study (or part-time equivalent) and involves all members of the student's Supervisory Committee in the assessment of the student's work to date. Specifically, the potential of the work to be developed into a PhD thesis of University of London standard. It is based on the Research Plan and a presentation of that plan to the Supervisory Committee. Students who are not upgraded in accordance with this process will not be eligible to proceed to submission of a PhD thesis, although they may proceed to submit for an MPhil at the end of two years of full-time registration or part-time equivalent.

After Year 1

After their first year, students must carefully plan their time so that they can finish their draft thesis well in time before the end of their third year of registration. The process followed by each student is guided by their research project. This may include a period of field research if required by the nature of project undertaken.​ Students are encouraged to take part in the Law School's research activities and events, including the PhD Colloquium, various informal reading groups, and the Law School Research Seminar series.

A Student's Perspective

I urge my prospective friends to inquire about the School of Law and SOAS in general as I feel confident that they might find themselves here soon.

Emir Kaya