The University of Southampton
Southampton Law SchoolPostgraduate study

Research Degrees

The University offers two research degree programmes: MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Within the context of both of these programmes students will have opportunities to:


All research students are registered initially for the MPhil degree. The minimum period of study for an MPhil is one year (full-time), but in most cases postgraduate research students enrol for two years (full-time). Your initial studies, under the guidance of an academic supervisor, will prepare you for potential transfer to PhD registration.  Alternatively you may complete an MPhil thesis, normally within two years (full-time). Unlike the PhD thesis, there is no absolute requirement that an MPhil make an original contribution to knowledge, rather it is required that you demonstrate advanced study.

Upgrading to PhD candidature

After significant progress has been made with research and writing (usually during the second year of study in the case of full-time candidates) the student may apply for upgrading to PhD candidature. 

The upgrade involves scrutiny of a number of chapters of the thesis by an advisory committee of two or more members of the Law School, and a formal discussion of these (viva) between the members of the committee and the research student.

PhD study takes place within a demanding and rigorous research environment. The depth of your personal knowledge will increase and you will be expected to make an independent, original, contribution to knowledge in your field.

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Key facts

Southampton Law School is renowned for first class legal research which is linked to student teaching, the supervision of postgraduate research students and consultancy work. Close links with the needs of Government, industry and the legal professions are maintained.

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