Guidance on writing a research proposal for a Ph.D. in the Law Department
In addition to the general guidelines for all applicants, please also consider the following points when framing your research proposal for studies in the Law Department.
- Identify a research question that you wish to explore. The research question can guide you to identifying the main topics for your research, and can also be used to explain why, in your view, the present literature does not address the issue in a satisfactory manner. The research question should also be the basis for you explaining the salience and importance of that question today.
- Do not be overly ambitious in your research plans. A thesis is normally approximately 120,000 words (a 200 page book) so you cannot write a successful thesis on a wide theme, you will necessarily need to focus your research. Both at interview and during your supervision, you will be advised on how to refine your research and focus it, but it helps if at the preliminary stage you demonstrate a capacity for selecting and delimiting a research topic.
- Specify your methodology. In law many theses are based upon reading primary sources (cases, statutes, treaties) and consulting secondary sources. This kind of black letter law research is welcomed, although during your studies you will be exposed to other types of methodologies (e.g. using law and economics). If you feel more comfortable in presenting a project in the black letter law tradition then the methodology component in your research project can be relatively short. Of course the method you choose should reflect the kind of research question you have in mind.
- In terms of resources the library has an excellent collection of monographs and journals, as well as primary materials from most EU jurisdictions and pertaining to public international law. If you are shortlisted for interview the library will check the availability of resources based on your research proposal, but it will be helpful if you consider certain specific material necessary for your research, that you spell this out so that we can ensure the library has the materials you need.