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Aberystwyth is a university with a welcoming culture, and a thriving, vibrant research community. We’ve been named Welsh University of the Year 2020, have produced ground-breaking research, and we’re situated on the beautiful West Coast of Wales, so you’ll be studying in a location like no other!

Founded in 1901, the Department of Law and Criminology has an extensive, distinctive and varied experience of legal and criminological education and academic work. The Department of Law and Criminology is always keen to welcome research students who make an important contribution to the Department and University. We pride ourselves on the high standard of supervision provided for postgraduate students. You’ll find that your supervisor will not only be there to help, advise and offer encouragement, but also guide you through the PhD process.

We encourage our students to publish their research, in many different forms, including books and journal articles. Members of staff are happy to support you with this and give advice regarding publishing your work. The close-knit nature of our department means that you’ll have opportunities to cross collaborate and partake in the variety of research projects currently being undertaken. This has led to many of our students joint publishing with staff.

Your PhD is awarded upon the satisfactory completion of a thesis of between 80-100,000 words, followed by the viva voce examination, where you verbally defend your thesis. The normal period of registration is three years (full time) and it is expected that the thesis will be submitted within four years of initial registration. Part of the first year is spent undertaking research training. The second and third years involve full-time research into your chosen topic. Undertaking a PhD enables you to become expert in your chosen subject and to explore the intricacies of your subject, be it in law or criminology, in context. In order to satisfy the examiners, you must demonstrate originality of thought as well as detailed analysis.

Typical Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements 2:1 Bachelors (Honours) degree in a relevant subject area, or equivalent.

English Language Requirements IELTS 7.0 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent

Other Requirements Applicants should submit a full research proposal at the point of application

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Course Overview

Why do a PhD?

A PhD is an important qualification within and outside of academia. Within academia, and PhD is a major stepping stone in academic careers. It signifies that you are capable of undertaking detailed research and of presenting the results of that research in an understandable way. Outside of academia, a PhD may help further your chosen career and progress in employment. For others, a PhD is the logical next step after their undergraduate or Masters studies. A full-time PhD is a 3-4 year commitment, and a part-time PhD can be between a 6-8 year commitment. A PhD is a challenging, and a significant commitment, which is why they are the highest research degree qualification you can achieve. Nevertheless, undertaking a PhD is a rewarding experience. Regardless of why you chose to do a PhD, it comes with huge benefits. Whilst a PhD is certainly challenging, it is a rare opportunity for you to spend three to four years working on a subject that excites, fascinates and inspires you. It will equip you will skills which go well beyond expertise in your subject area. You will learn the discipline of organising and completing a major research project; you will develop the discipline to see it through; and you will learn much about yourself and how you handle such a major challenge.

About this course

Requirements for completion for the PhD

A PhD requires a substantial thesis of approximately 80000 - 100000 words. Your thesis will be written under the supervision of a member of staff of the Department. If you’re studying on a full-time basis, you will also take a course on research skills and strategy, to assist you in acquiring the skills which are necessary for academic legal research.

If your research project is within the area of socio-legal studies or criminology you will also be required to complete ESRC approved Faculty Research Training Programme provided by the Faculty of Social science. You take this training in the first year of your PhD, and it concerns quantitative and qualitative research methodology, and social science research needs.

Period of study for the PhD

Full-Time: The normal period of registration for a full-time student is 3 years. However, if the candidate already holds a Research Masters degree or its equivalent the period is 2 years

Registration commences on: 1st October, 1st January, 1st April or 1st July.

Part-Time: The normal period of registration for a part-time student is 5 years. However, if the candidate already holds a Masters degree or its equivalent the period is 3 years.

Registration commences on: 1st October, 1st January, 1st April or 1st July.

Support and resources

A PhD involves significant independent research. You’ll mostly work on your own, but we can offer you plenty of tools, support and resources to help support you over the course of your PhD, and beyond.


We have a thriving postgraduate community. Our postgraduate hub, Penglais Postgraduate Centre, was opened in 2013. This centre is specifically for postgraduate research students, and is equipped with a social lounge, kitchen area, open plan and private study places, and a seminar room equipped with visual display facilities. Our society for postgraduate students, GradSoc, is also a great way of getting to know Aberystwyth, and your peers.

Our library, the Hugh Owen library, is extensive and well resourced, with a plethora of online, visual, and material resources. We are also in the enviable position of being located right next to the National Library of Wales! You will also have the ability to sign up to the SCONUL scheme, allowing you to access libraries and their resources, from all across the UK.

Research Training

Alongside your degree, research training is provided to all our postgraduate research students. The Aberystwyth Researcher Development Programme follows the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, which is designed to help researchers develop skills over the course of their PhD which contribute towards their professional development.

Some of this training is compulsory. For full-time PhD students, you’ll be expected to undertake 45 credits of training, all of which will help you towards completing your PhD, such as workshops to help prepare you for your viva. If you’re a full-time ESRC funded social sciences student, training will also consist of 45 credits, but you must take 2 core modules on quantitative and qualitative research methods. To check training requirements, please see the following link:

Compulsory training aside, there are plenty of internal opportunities and events on offer at Aberystwyth to help support you throughout your studies. The Aberystwyth Researcher Development Programme provides a variety of non-compulsory training events and workshops which postgraduate research students can take advantage of. These workshops cover a wealth of areas, such as personal effectiveness, engagement influence and impact, and research writing.  


A PhD doesn’t necessarily have to mean a career in academia. Whether you want to continue in academia or otherwise, the Graduate School is here to support you every step of the way. Careers consultations are available for postgraduate students every Tuesday morning, during term time in the Postgraduate Centre. Workshops which focus upon enhancing your employability within and outside of academia are also run as part of the Aberystwyth Researcher Development Programme.

In Law and Criminology, the department runs internal seminars and conferences, which we encourage our postgraduate research students to partake in, to develop their speaking and networking skills. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of our conference fund to attend conferences outside of the university. Past students have taken advantage of this to deliver presentations to the British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Conference, and the Socio-Legal Students Postgraduate Conference. 

Career Opportunities

Postgraduate study in Criminology at Aberystwyth University provides students with a requisite knowledge and skill set suitable for a wide variety of careers. Students acquire a wide range of transferable skills such as the ability research independently, to think analytically and critically about complex issues, to problem solve, to engage effectively in argument and debate, to analyse qualitative and quantitative data and to write clearly and concisely.  

Graduates from the Department of Law and Criminology are engaged in academic and criminological research all over the world, and many have embarked on careers in the legal profession or in organisations working within the prison, police, probation, or social service sectors. Other former students now hold positions in government and voluntary service organisations.