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Where Will Postgraduate Study in Law Lead You?


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Sydney Law School equips you for careers in advanced research, policy development, public service, tertiary teaching or professional leadership. You will benefit from a vibrant and dynamic research culture and engage with internationally renowned School members who are experts across a range of fields.

Subject areas
Shared pool

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status
The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your entry requirements

English language proficiency

Find out if you need to prove English language proficiency (depends on your country of origin and educational background).

For academic requirements check the ‘Admission requirements’ section on this page.

Your fee

How to apply

Please apply by 31 October for commencement on 1 March and 30 March for commencement on 1 July. If your application cannot be assessed in time for commencement, it will be considered for the next possible start date.

Starting date

Research Period 2: 1 March and Research Period 3: 1 July

Please apply by 31 October for commencement on 1 March and 30 March for commencement on 1 July. If your application cannot be assessed in time for commencement, it will be considered for the next possible start date.

Starting date

Research Period 2: 1 March and Research Period 3: 1 July

Research areas

Doctor of Philosophy researchers perform original research in an area of law or regulation involving legal or interdisciplinary methodologies under the supervision of a member of the University of Sydney Law School who is an expert in the subject matter. 

Learn more about Sydney Law School research

What you'll study

The Doctor of Philosophy (Law) is awarded on the basis of a supervised thesis of a maximum 80,000 words. The thesis must make a substantially original contribution to the knowledge of the subject concerned. Students are also required to complete the compulsory research-support coursework units, LAWS6077 Legal Research 1 within the first 12 months of their candidature and LAWS7001 Legal Research 2 within the first 24 months.

Changes to higher degree research in 2021

From 2021, the University is introducing a new coursework curriculum to support research success. PhD students will complete 12 credit points of coursework and be able to choose from a pool of 270+ units from any faculty. The pool comprises a range of development opportunities that include specialist analytical methods, professional development units and discipline-specific subjects relevant for research students. Refer to the Interdisciplinary Studies handbook

There is no separate tuition fee cost for the coursework units of study you will undertake, it is part of the tuition fee for the course.

See the ‘Your Fee’ section for fee information. Additional non-tuition course costs vary depending on the units of study.

You will be able to see and enrol in any of the units available, subject to capacity constraints and your own background. Note that your faculty may elect to make certain units compulsory for a given PhD degree pathway.

Units of Study

Applying for admission

To apply for admission to a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) degree, you must submit a formal application for admission.

Expression of Interest (Optional)

While you are not required to submit an Expression of Interest before applying, Sydney Law School recommends that you do so before submitting a formal application, especially if:

· you are seeking funding assistance;

· have not identified a potential supervisor; or

· you are an international applicant. 

Submitting an Expression of Interest will allow the School to support you in presenting a formal application and provide you with feedback on whether your application is likely to succeed.

The Expression of Interest form includes information about your intended research topic, academic and professional qualifications, and publications.

To allow the School to consider your information and provide you appropriate and timely guidance, applicants are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest as early as possible and no later than:


Optional - Expression of Interest Submission Date

Formal Application Closing Date

Course Commencement Date

 31 July

 31 October

 1 March

 31 December

 30 March

 1 July


Formal Application for Admission

To apply for a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) degree, you will submit a formal application through the University's Online Application portal.

You must ensure that all required supporting documents are submitted with your application, including the following documents requested by Sydney Law School:

. expression of interest acceptance (if submitted one), otherwise please include evidence of consultation/comments from potential supervisors. The nomination of supervisors is determined by the Law Postgraduate Research Education Committee.

·  full research proposal (approximately 10 pages) which outlines:

    - aims of the proposed research thesis

    - background to the research, including a brief reference to the relevant iterature and law (including case law where appropriate)

    - a clear statement of the area to be researched

    - rationale for the research and a statement of why it is significant

    - working hypotheses or research questions

    - research methodology including theoretical and empirical considerations for the research

    - statement indicating how you will be able to sufficiently fund your proposed field work or overseas study/research. Explain why this work is essential for completion of your thesis.

· motivation statement

· time availability statement

· curriculum vitae

· list of publications (if available)

· timeline for completion of the thesis and the two compulsory units of study (LAWS6077 Legal Research 1 and LAWS7001 Legal Research 2)

· two referee statements in support of your application (in addition to the referee forms)

Before you apply, please check the University of Sydney’s eligibility criteria for admission to a research program at Apply for Postgraduate Research.

To Apply now


To be considered for a scholarship, you must select “Yes” in the “Scholarship Details” field on your application form. To find out more, please visit Scholarships

Completion requirement

To satisfy requirements of the degree students must:

  • complete any specified probationary requirements;
  • complete LAWS6077 Legal Research 1 and LAWS7001 Legal Research 2;
  • conduct research on an approved topic; and
  • write a thesis of a maximum 80,000 words embodying the results of the research.

Admission requirement

There are three main conditions of admission, namely:

(i) Academic qualifications

(ii) Research and publication experience and

(iii) Suitability of the proposed course of study and research. If you are not academically qualified to undertake a research degree, you may consider pursuing your research interests through coursework study before progressing to a research degree.

The coursework program provides you with an opportunity to enhance your expertise in the proposed area of research by allowing you to complete research projects in related units of study. Applicants require a Master's degree and/or Bachelor's degree with first or upper second class honours.

Career Pathways

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Sydney Law School is a pathway to a number of careers, including tertiary education, policy development, advanced research, and specialisation for employment in government, inter-governmental and international organisations, and civil society organisations. You will conduct a research project that makes a substantial and original contribution to knowledge and will have a highly developed knowledge base, with strong written, oral, and critical analytical skills.

Domestic students

International students

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.