School of Law

Research degrees

Three books in a stack on a desk

A legal education based on justice

We offer a progressive environment for research degree study. Our academic staff supervise across a wide range of research areas and 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:

  • Commercial law
  • Human rights law
  • Public law

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.


Explore our research degrees
Why choose us?
  • Leading research expertise across commercial law, public law, and human rights law
  • More than two-thirds of our research is rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)
  • Gain practical experience with our Essex Law Clinic and Human Rights Clinic
Apply for a CHASE studentship

The Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), is one of 11 Doctoral Training Partnerships funded by the AHRC in the UK and offers a world-leading environment for doctoral research and education.

Find out more

So, what do we have to offer?

An active research community

We have a large and vibrant research community based at one of the most internationally diverse universities in the world. Our staff work with the United Nations, governments, human rights organisations and corporations across the globe.

Professional development

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.

Proficio is our unique professional development scheme for doctoral students. PhD students receive up to £2,000 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.

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.