Graduate Research

PhD Timeline

A PhD at UCL Laws lasts for 3 years full-time and 5 years part-time.

Entry to the MPhil/PhD programme is in September of each academic year. Over the course of your PhD, you will undertake independent research under the guidance of your supervisors to produce an innovative thesis of up to 100,000 words.

Within your first month

There will be a number of induction events and activities when you arrive, to familiarise you with UCL Laws and help you settle into the programme at your own pace. You and your primary supervisor should arrange to meet as soon as possible after your arrival.

Within your first three months

Within three months of joining the programme, you will agree with your supervisor the basic structure of your research project, an appropriate research method and a realistic plan of work. You will produce and submit a detailed outline of your proposed research to your supervisor for their comments and feedback. You should keep the detailed outline of your research under regular review.

1st Year Research Workshop

We hold a PhD workshop at the end of the first year which provides students with an opportunity to present their research during the first year of their degree before an audience of UCL Laws Academic staff and PhD students. This provides an excellent opportunity to present their work before a friendly and supportive audience. Students find this very useful in working towards their upgrade.

During your second year

All new students are required initially to register for the MPhil degree with the expectation that they will transfer to the PhD. Students need to upgrade between 9 – 18 months (24 part-time) after their initial registration.

To successfully upgrade to a PhD, research students are required to submit a piece of writing (usually one chapter from their thesis and a synopsis and chapter plan for the remainder of the thesis), and to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of their subsidiary supervisor and another member of the faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

Many PhD students also gain important teaching experience during the second year of the programme.

At the end of the third year

Assessment is by a thesis of no more than 100,000 words and an oral examination of the thesis (‘viva’), conducted by two Examiners who are experts in the field of research being examined.

The PhD programme is expected to be completed within three years for full-time students, and over five years for part-time students. If not ready to submit at the end of this period, students may be able to go onto ‘Completing Research Status.’ This is a year (or two years for part timers) when you are not paying fees but still have access to university facilities, in order to allow you to write up.