PHD IN CONTRACT LAW
The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) is the most prestigious of the Law Faculty’s research degrees. It entails writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words over a period of three, or at most four years (six to eight years for part-time candidates).
All candidates will be admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status in the first instance, and all the students except those who have previously completed the faculty’s MPhil in Law program will undertake a course in the legal research methods during the first year as the full-time student or in the first two years as the part-time student. This provides training in the legal research methodology, but it will also expose you to the diversity of and intellectual challenges involved in legal scholarship and serves as a forum of peers in which you can discuss the methodological challenges involved in your own research.
The Faculty can provide supervision for a wide range of different topics and a list of completed doctorates gives a general sense of the breadth and depth of the research undertaken by its candidates.
A typical week for the student during their first two terms will involve attendance at the legal research training methodology class and perhaps participating in the discussion group (of which there are over 30) or auditing a BCL seminar that relates to their own research topic; apart from the which they will be spending their time engaged in their own research. You will also meet with supervisors to discuss your work as explained in the supervision section below. After the third term (providing you transfer to the full DPhil status) you may undertake fieldwork and research trips, depending on the nature of your research topics, and there may be opportunities to undertake paid research assistance or to teach undergraduate candidates.
All candidates will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within the maximum of four terms as a full-time PRS student (eight terms as a part-time PRS student), you will be expected to application for, and achieve, transfer of status from Probationer Research candidate to DPhil status by submitting a research outline and the substantial piece of written work. These are assessed by the two members of the Law Faculty, who will also interview you about your work. This application is normally made by the third term for the full-the time students (sixth term for part-time students). A similar exercise then takes place between your sixth and ninth terms (twelfth and fifteenth terms for the part-time pathway) when you will apply for Confirmation of the DPhil status.
After three or at most four years (no later than eight years for the part-time pathway), your thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words will be read by two examiners, who conduct an in-depth oral examination known as the viva voce. The thesis must make a significant and substantial contribution to its field. On the basis of the examiners’ report, you will either be awarded the DPhil (which may be subject to major or minor corrections) or referred back to make the revisions to the thesis.
Changes to this course and your supervision:
The University will seek to deliver this course in the accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registrations. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in the circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example, due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of candidates cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign the new academic supervisor during the course of the study or before registration for reasons which might include as illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
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