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School of Law

CCLS & ESRC LISS CASE PhD Studentship – Digital Trade


The Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London, in partnership with the UK Department for International Trade, calls for applications for an ESRC funded +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (Masters + PhD) studentship to support research in the field of International Trade Law.

Topic of Research

The successful candidate is expected to complete a doctoral research project titled “Mind the Gap: trade rules and the digital economy”. This project is concerned with the impact of technological changes on trade governance. Multilateral trade rules were originally designed to facilitate trade in goods in the 1940s and last updated to cover trade in services in the early 1990s. New digital technologies are changing the means for trading, the content of trade and the traders themselves. Data localisation measures and internet access restrictions are replacing tariffs and quotas as the new barriers to trade. The aim of the project is to assess the extent to which current trade rules are suitable for securing an open and non-discriminatory, but also safe and trustworthy digital market. A combination of desk research, qualitative interviews with relevant stakeholders and doctrinal analysis of relevant literature on trade governance, will be used to (a) identify policy measures affecting digital trade; (b) compare rules for digital trade included in recent Trade Agreements; and (c) find international rules and standards other than trade rules relevant for the governance of digital trade.

The project will be undertaken with the support of the UK Department of International Trade, QMUL’s CASE partner for this project, giving the researcher access to a wealth of knowledge and practical experience on the negotiation of trade rules for the digital economy.

The successful candidate will undertake research within the field of International Trade Law and IT law under the supervision of Dr Gabriel Gari and  Professor Ian Walden.


  • The studentship will cover the full cost of Home/EU fees for a +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (MRes + PhD) plus an annual stipend (valued at £17,009 in September 2019).
  • The award is renewable over four years of study while in full-time enrolment. MRes students must obtain a Merit to progress to the PhD. PhD students' progression is subject to satisfactory annual progress reports.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Whether a +3 or 1+3 funding is provided depends upon whether the applicant has a Master’s degree which meets the core training requirements set by ESRC.
  • Applicants who do not meet the core training requirements, must apply to the MRes in International Economic Law and must meet that MRes programme’s own academic entry requirements
  • The award is for postgraduate research students only, who will reside in or around the London area for the duration of their doctoral studies.
  • The award is open to applicant’s wishing to study on a full-time basis.
  • Preference will be given to applicants with a legal academic background and knowledge of International Trade Law and/or Information Technology Law.
  • The applicant must also meet the residential eligibility requirements of the ESRC LISS DTP funding scheme. Information on these requirements can be found here.

  • To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees), the applicant must meet all the following conditions:

    (i) Have settled status in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long they can stay.

    (ii) Have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship grant (i.e. September 2020). This means applicants must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences).

    (iii) Not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK and EU nationals

  • To be eligible for a fees-only award, an applicant must:

    (i) Be ordinarily resident in an EU member state, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK

  • Thus, applicants who are classed as ‘overseas’ or ‘international’ for fees purposes are not eligible for these funding awards.
  • Existing PhD students who have already enrolled prior to September are not eligible to apply for the award.

Application process

Applicants must submit, by the deadline date:

  • An application to the MRes in International Economic Law (for applicants who do not meet the core training requirements) or to the PhD Programme (for applicants that meet the core training requirements);
  • All required supporting documents as part of this, which are:
    • A research proposal (of 2,000 - 3,000 words maximum). This would outline your suggestions to purse the aim of this project via 3 years of doctoral research, including your research design and methodology. The word count does not include the bibliography or title.
    • A CV
    • A Statement of Purpose, explaining why are you interested in undertaking this LISS DTP CASE studentship.
    • Transcripts from any under-graduate or post-graduate degrees in Law taken
    • 2 references – at least one of which must be from a staff member who taught you on more recent course of study
  • In addition, applicants must submit (either via e-mail or uploaded to their MRes / PhD application) a completed LISS DTP Collaborative (CASE) Application Form
  • If you are applying for a +3 studentship (PhD only), you must provide evidence of meeting ESRC’s core training requirements)
  • Shortlisted candidates may be required to attend an interview.


The deadline for applications is  Monday 2 March 2020. You must have submitted both your application to the MRes programme (including all required supporting documents) and your ESRC LISS DTP Collaborative (CASE) Studentship 2020 Application form by this date.

Further inquiries

  • If you have any queries relating to the funding application process, please contact Mr G Skehan (


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