Founded in 1901, Aberystwyth Law School bases itself on a long, distinguished and increasingly varied experience of legal and criminological education and academic work. Over the years many well-known academics have taught in the Law School, and Aberystwyth law and criminology graduates have made their mark in a wide range of careers. The Law School is confident in its distinctive identity and reputation for teaching of high quality, linked to vigorous research activity carried out in a stimulating and friendly environment. The Law School’s library has all of the electronic resources expected of any institution offering a full legal education.

The Law School participated in the Research Excellence Framework (2014) assessment. That assessment found that 96.5% of publications submitted were of of an internationally recognised standard and that 98% of research activity in the department was rated as internationally recognised.

Masters by Research

At Aberystwyth you can register for an MPhil or an LLM (Research). There is no difference between these qualifications. Most students register for the MPhil, which is recognised in the UK as a research qualification, whereas the LLM is usually reserved for taught Masters programmes. Some overseas students, however, prefer to be awarded an LLM because the title signifies clearly that it is a law degree. In either case, you can register for one year to produce a thesis of about 50,000 - 60,000 words. You work under the direction of one or more supervisors but are not required to attend any classes. After the year at Aberystwyth you have up to two years to write up your research.

Studying for a Research Masters offers many of the attractions of studying for a PhD. It would be wrong, however, to think of a Masters dissertation as a short PhD. A Masters thesis should provide a detailed overview and critique of any area of law but it is not intended to provide an in-depth analysis in the same way as a PhD. The main advantage of the Research Masters, therefore, is that it enables you to complete a piece of research and obtain a qualification for it in a relatively short period of time.

Aberystwyth Law School is committed to a policy of innovation and development in teaching and research and regularly reviews both the range and content of its degree schemes, as well as its modes of teaching and assessment, in order to respond effectively to the needs and expectations of our student body. The Law School aims to maximise choice in its provision of legal and criminological education while ensuring that teaching is informed by up-to-date scholarship at the highest level.


A PhD is awarded upon the satisfactory completion of a thesis of about 80-100,000 words followed by viva voce examination. 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, leaving the second and third years for full-time research into your chosen topic. 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.

A PhD is regarded as a major stepping stone in academic and academic-related careers. It signifies that you are capable of undertaking detailed research and of presenting the results of that research in an understandable way.

Many people embark on a PhD in order to make progress in their employment and some are actually sponsored by their employers to undertakethe degree. Others see it as the logical next step after their undergraduate or Masters studies. In any case, it is a rare opportunity for you to spend two to three years working on a subject that excites and fascinates you. Most people who complete a PhD find it to have been a challenging, but extremely rewarding, experience. The skills you will acquire go well beyond expertise in oyur 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 sucha major challenge.

External Engagement

The academic staff are active in research and publication and participate in national and international debate and policy-making in the legal, criminological and related fields.

Staff have been worked with international organisations, including the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the International Organisation for Migration, the European Commission’s Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

They have also contributed to the work of national organisations in many fields. These include the Law and Compassion Research Network, the Internet Watch Foundation, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee and Four and Twenty Blackbirds (charity dealing with domestic abuse).

In Wales itself we are actively engaged in the activities of government and the public and private sector, including the Countryside Commission for Wales, the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group, the Wales UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Monitoring Group, the Welsh Assembly Standing Orders Commission, the Research Board of the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, the Wales Office, the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Language Tribunal,

Formal connections are maintained with other academic institutions in the UK and abroad, including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Research Foundation Flanders, the National Science Centre in Poland, the European Centre Natolin and the University of South Australia. The Law School participates actively in international and European academic networks, for purposes of both student mobility and exchanges, and staff and postgraduate research. There is a strong international student profile in the Law School and there are frequent visits by academics and experts from other countries.

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

LLM by Research and MPhil

The degrees of LLM and MPhil are designed for those who wish to pursue research in a particular area of legal interest under the expert guidance of a member of the Department's staff.

Requirements for Completion for the LLM by Research MPhil

Both the LLM and MPhil require the candidate to complete a thesis of around 60,000 words. The candidate will consult regularly with his or her supervisor, who will advise and provide guidance on the project. Those studying the degree full-time will also take a short course on research training to assist them to develop appropriate research skills.

Period of Study for the LLM by Research MPhil

The normal period of registration for a full-time student is 12 months during which time the student must be based in Aberystwyth. The normal period of registration for a part-time student is two years. Those studying on a part-time basis need not be resident in Aberystwyth during this time.


The Department of Law and Criminology provides the opportunity to study for the research degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in most major areas of law and a number of more specialised topics. It is possible to study on either a full or part time basis.

The Department is always keen to welcome research students, who make an important contribution to the Department and University. The Department prides itself on the high standard of supervision provided for postgraduate students. Students will find that their supervisor takes a keen interest in their progress, and is always on hand to offer encouragement, guidance and advice.

In recent years many postgraduate students from the Department of Law & Criminology have published their research in the form of books and articles, and members of staff are always happy to give students advice about publication. There have also been several publications as a result of joint research projects between staff and postgraduates.

The Department currently has about 48 full time postgraduate research students, as well as many others studying on a part-time basis.

Research Training

Research Training is provided to all postgraduate research students, and it is an institutional requirement that appropriate training be provided for research students in accordance with the requirements of either the ESRC or Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB), depending on the subject matter and methodology of the students research project.

Requirements for completion for the PhD

The degree of PhD requires a substantial thesis of approximately 80 000 - 100 000 words. The thesis will be written under the supervision of a member of staff of the Department. Those studying on a full time basis will also take a course on research skills and strategy, to assist them in acquiring the skills which are necessary for academic legal research. If their research project is within the area of socio-legal studies or criminology they will also be required to complete the ESRC approved Faculty Research Training Programme provided by the Faculty of Social science. This is undertaken in the first year of the PhD study and gives students training in 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 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.


Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.


Module Name Module Code Credit Value


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Manuscript Skills: Post Medieval Palaeographic and Diplomatic PGM1210 10
Principles of Research Design PGM0210 10
Ways of Reading PGM0410 10
Quantitative Data Collection and Analysis (for social scientists) PGM1010 10

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh