All applicants must submit a detailed research proposal.


Please note:

  • It is essential to include your full name on the first page of your research proposal.  
  • Your research proposal may be passed through originality checking software.

The full proposal should include at least the following elements:

  • a clear description of the proposed thesis topic, indicating the research problem and expected scope of the investigation;
  • a description of how the proposed topic would be an original contribution to legal science(minimum of 1,000 words);
  • a detailed literature review that evidences your awareness of the existing literature and evidences the originality of your proposed research (minimum of 2,000 words);
  • a description of how your research might have impact on the world at large, of how will it impact beyond the community of scholars (minimum of 500 words);
  • an explanation of how you can achieve these goals within the 3-year term, including evidence of previous successfully completed research writing project(s); and
  • an indication of why the School of Law at the University of Aberdeen is suited to the proposed research (e.g. staff expertise, library or archival resources).


Candidates admitted to PhD study will not be strictly bound by the proposal that accompanies the application. Its purpose is to reveal something of the applicant’s preparation and insight. During their first months of work doctoral students often adjust their proposals in consultation with their advisors and in conjunction with the research training offered by the School.


In Aberdeen as elsewhere in the UK, the dissertation is examined at a Viva Voce by internal and external examiners and not by the candidate’s supervisor(s). The examiners will expect a dissertation that makes an original and significant contribution to legal science.