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The PhD is awarded after three to four years of full-time research (or five to seven years of part-time study) on the basis of a dissertation of 80,000 words (exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography, but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography, table of contents and any other preliminary matter). Examination for the PhD involves an oral examination (viva) by two examiners.

Research students who intend to undertake PhD research are in the first instance automatically registered for a one-year research training programme leading to the Certificate of Postgraduate Study (CPGS) in Legal Studies. They are assigned a supervisory team by the Degree Committee of the Faculty, ordinarily consisting of a supervisor (who is principally responsible for directing and assisting the research) and an advisor (who provides a second point of contact for academic advice). At the end of the first year, the Degree Committee decides whether students should be registered for the PhD. This decision is taken on the basis of the student’s personal progress log, first-year dissertation of 15,000 words, viva conducted by two assessors from within the Faculty, and outline of plans for the full research project. Candidates who successfully complete the requirements of the CPGS and the first-year progress review are retrospectively registered for the PhD.

All full-time PhD students are ordinarily required to be resident in Cambridge for the duration of their research (save where given leave to work away from Cambridge for academic reasons or whilst undertaking fieldwork), and during the first year in particular must attend weekly research training sessions in the Faculty.

This overview of the PhD programme must be read in conjunction with the detailed information available under the 'Courses' section (see, in particular, the Course Directory) of the Postgraduate Admissions website. Further information on postgraduate admission to research courses in the Faculty of Law is available from or +44 (0)1223 330039.