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School of Law

Finding a supervisor

The supervision relationship is of vital importance to the PhD programme. At Queen Mary, all students have more than one supervisor. This supervisory team will support your academic development and, more importantly, will be the primary readers of your PhD. You will meet them regularly so that they can give feedback on draft chapters of your thesis. We encourage you to contact potential supervisors before you submit your application. Starting a dialogue with a potential supervisor is of particular importance if you are applying for funding.

It is important to make sure that the School of Law has staff whose research interests and expertise complement your research project. Only permanent academic staff can act as PhD supervisors – Visiting Scholars and Post-doctoral researchers cannot do so. One of the criteria we use to assess your application is institutional fit, for which a strong supervision team is vital. You may find that other equally prestigious Law PhD programmes are a better fit for your project. At the same time, your supervisors do not need to  be an exact fit with your project. For instance, if your thesis project is a feminist approach to tax law, an expert on feminist legal theory may well be an excellent supervisor, even if they have not written specifically on tax law. To give another example, an academic who works on Algorithmic Governance and the EU may still be in a good position to support a project on AI and governance in the domestic sphere.

The School of Law has as its central focus the role of law and its institutions in contemporary international society. It is particularly well-known for its work on Commercial Law (in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies) and socio-legal studies (in the Department of Law). Academics in both CCLS and the Department do cutting-edge research in an array of different fields and employ a wide variety of methods and approaches. Explore our Research Centres to get an idea of Queen Mary’s research strengths. Most of these have lists of members, which will give you a good idea of where staff interests lie. Another place to look is our academic staff profiles page. Check under each academic’s staff page for confirmation they do offer supervision and, if so, on their ‘supervision’ tab for information about what kinds of projects they have supervised in the past and what kinds of project they are interested in supervising in the future.  As mentioned above, please bear in mind that only permanent members of staff can supervise PhD projects.

Please be mindful that academics in the School of Law receive a large number of supervision requests. You are more likely to receive a positive response if you tailor your request for supervision to the particular member of staff you have approached; impersonal, indiscriminate emails to lots of academics at once are rarely successful. You should look up some of the academic’s publications to see whether they seem to be a good fit with your own project. Bear in mind that some academics are in great demand as supervisors and may lack the capacity to take on any new PhD students. Allow plenty of time for finding a supervisor.

Finally, please only begin to develop a dialogue about your project with a member of academic staff if you are seriously intending to work under their supervision. Academics invest a great deal of time and energy in giving feedback and advice to prospective students, so it is important to be open about the basis on which you have solicited their views.

If you have been able to identify an academic staff member, and have contacted them and received agreement to supervise prior to applying, please could you confirm this at the beginning of your Statement of Purpose document.  You should confirm both which staff you have contacted (even where you haven’t received agreement), and the name of the staff member who has agreed to act as your supervisor.

If you have been unable to identify suitable supervisors before the main PhD application deadline in June, you may still submit your application. This applies in the case of most funding deadlines (except those for the LAHP or LISS awards, where supervision must be agreed prior to the funding deadline). The admissions team will try to find a suitable supervisory match, but you should bear in mind that a match may not be possible.

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