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School of Law

Application documents and entry requirements

Application documents

The online application process requires you to submit a number of documents. See the list below for specific information:

1. PhD proposal

For information on this document, please see the ‘Developing a Research project’ section above, and our guide to writing research proposals [PDF 164KB].

2. Statement of purpose

3. Academic qualifications

Please see the entry requirements section below.

4. English language qualifications

Please see the entry requirements section below.

5. CV

This document should include details of any legal or academic vocational experience (including dates) relevant to your proposed area of research, in addition to your academic background.

6. References

Applicants must provide two written references (not one, as mentioned in the general Guidance Note), in the form of letters of support from you referees. One of these references must be from an academic who taught you on your most recent course of study (which would normally be a Masters degree or equivalent). Applicants who are current LLM or MA students should obtain their references from staff currently teaching them. For applicants without recent academic qualifications, vocational references may sometimes be accepted.

Applicants must provide the correct contact email details of their referees on their application form. Once your application is submitted, our application system will send a reference request to those named referees. Normally this contact email address should be the institutional email address of the referee (for example, the email address at the university the academic works for).

Entry requirements

Academic qualifications

You will be expected to have a distinction at Masters level, or an equivalent qualification. In some exceptional circumstances the requirement will be applied flexibly, for example if an applicant has gained a High Merit overall and performed to Distinction level in a Masters dissertation or has recently gained an outstanding undergraduate qualification in Law (equivalent to a First class result) and is looking to move immediately to a doctorate. Also, extensive vocational experience in the applicant’s proposed area of research may compensate for the lack of a master's degree, or a grade below that specified above. For example, working as a magistrate, judge, lawyer or expert for a considerable period of time, at least five years, in the proposed area of research will be taken into account. A strong undergraduate degree in Law or a relevant equivalent qualification is necessary in all cases. 

Applicants must provide documentation for their most recent academic qualification. This should include both the transcript showing your marks (including specifically the mark for any dissertation component taken) and a copy of the certificate confirming the overall grade. If you have also previously taken an undergraduate degree in Law, please include copies of your certificate from this degree which confirm the overall mark. For degrees taken in non-English speaking countries, applicants must submit notarised transcripts translated into English by an accredited translation service.

English language qualifications

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to provide documentary proof of proficiency in English (such as an IBTOEFL or IELTS test result certificate) as part of the application process. In addition to this section, applicants should consult the University’s Postgraduate Research English Language Requirements page for further information.  

If your nationality comes within the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) definition of an English-speaking country, then you would not normally need to provide documentary proof of English competency. Please see the UKVI webpage for its official list. In addition to holding a passport from a listed country, applicants must have both predominantly resided and received most of their schooling in that country. This will be determined by the University’s Admissions Office during the application review process and will be confirmed to the applicant by the time of any offer decision.

If you do not fall within this definition, then you must provide proof of English proficiency. This should take the form of a certificate showing you have taken an English language test recognised and accepted by our Admissions Office no more than two years prior to your proposed entry point. Any offer you receive will be conditional on you meeting the minimum English Language requirements. See a list of the main English-testing schemes we use and the marks needed to meet our requirements.

International applicants should be aware that student visas can only be applied for once an applicant holds an unconditional offer to their proposed programme of study, meaning English documentation must be submitted in sufficient time prior to the proposed entry date to ensure the applicant is able to travel to the UK.

If you fall below our standard English Language requirements, you may consider one of our Pre-Sessional English courses. You will require a UK government approved secure English Language Test for entry to Pre-Sessional courses. The minimum entry requirement for the PSE course is 6.0 overall (and 6.0 in writing) for the IELTS programme. We offer a Pre-sessional Summer programme. As this course can start in mid-June, applicants are advised to submit their PhD application no later than mid-March to ensure an offer and then a visa application (if required) can be made in time.

Applicants who are not from a majority English speaking country, or do not hold an approved English test that meets our requirements can be considered exempt from this requirement if they can provide documentary evidence:

  • They hold a degree from a Majority English Speaking Country (MESC) (and provided Queen Mary recognises the degree and deems it equivalent to a UK degree), you may use this degree to satisfy the English language requirements for entry if it was delivered in the MESC. Such degrees must have sufficient minimum years of study.
  • They have at least one year of recent employment using English as the main language of communication. Queen Mary can consider, on an individual basis, a letter from your employer confirming your English language proficiency in all four component areas, provided you additionally have a Queen Mary approved English language test outside the standard validity period. Applicants should note that this documentation can be provided with the other supporting documentation when the application is submitted.  Alternatively, should your application be successfully reviewed, after you have received the offer you must submit the documentation to our Research Admissions Office directly, following the instructions given in the offer.

For further information on the basis for exemption from the English language requirements, please refer to the ‘Postgraduate Guidelines’ section on the Postgraduate Research English Language Requirements page.

For further queries regarding acceptable English language qualifications, please contact the Admissions team directly via email at

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