Five Reasons to do your PhD at IALS

A PhD text laying on its side with spine facing

This post was first published on 05/06/2020.

In this blog post Dr Colin King answers the question “Why should I do a PhD at IALS?”

1. Expert supervision

At IALS, we are able to offer expert supervision in a wide range of research areas. Alongside our core staff, we draw upon expertise from across the UK, particularly amongst our Research Fellows. Our staff and fellows are amongst leading experts in their subjects, having authored key monographs, textbooks, and articles.

You will be paired with two supervisors, who will offer tailored advice and guidance on your topic and personal development.

We actively encourage and support interdisciplinary research, and many of our students are supervised by a combination of academics in law and another discipline.

2. Collegiality

Our postgraduate community is at the heart of our scholarly work at IALS. On average, there are approx. 50-75 postgraduate research students, as well as a sizeable LLM cohort. We pride ourselves on ensuring a student-centred environment, and we put great emphasis not only on the final thesis but also ensuring personal development and a friendly environment.

IALS students are actively involved in our research projects and events. They take a lead on different aspects of our work, including the PhD Masterclasses and the IALS Student Law Review.

For information on current postgraduate research at IALS, see here. And for testimonials from students who recently completed their PhDs, see here.

As one recent PhD graduate stated:

My fondest memory lies in the feeling of being surrounded by friends and colleagues. We had our coffee break time which mostly led to never-ending interesting conversations until one of us reluctantly reminded us that we have a PhD to finish!

3. Training and development

The National Research Training Days on ‘How to Get a PhD in Law’ are organised by, and hosted at, IALS. These training days offer high-quality training, with informative discussion and engagement with experts, as well as enabling opportunities to network with research students from other institutions.

We also offer a very popular ‘Introduction to Legal Research Methods’ 2-week training course, which explores a range of research methodologies relevant to postgraduate research.

Regular PhD Masterclasses ensure a relaxed environment to meet and discuss research and strategies with fellow students and academics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, shortened versions of these Masterclasses have been recorded as podcasts, with insights from experts across the UK.

Students are actively encouraged to attend a range of research events hosted at IALS (see below) to further develop their own expertise and knowledge of different topics.

4. Environment

You will be welcome to join and participate in our renowned research centres, including the Information Law & Policy Centre, the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies, and the Centre for Financial Law, Regulation & Compliance.

IALS is a hub for research projects and events, with numerous outstanding lawyers, judges, and academics regularly visiting Charles Clore House. We have a vibrant visiting fellows scheme, as well as our long-established research fellows scheme

You will have the opportunity to attend an array of research events, and to engage with some of the leading thinkers in different fields. We regularly host public lectures and research seminars on specific topics, that attract interest from a range of perspectives and backgrounds.

Being based in the heart of London, with close proximity to leading law chambers and solicitors as well as policymakers and civil society, is ideal to ensure your research is influenced by and relevant to practitioners and policymakers.

5. Library (and librarians)

The IALS library is the jewel in the crown, and is at the heart of IALS and who we are. It is one of the largest legal research libraries in Europe, with a vast collection of UK and international material. The library provides a welcoming place to conduct your own research, to meet and engage with likeminded researchers, scholars and practitioners.  

For more information on the library, see the newsletter which is published three times per year.

Following a two-year ‘Transformation Project’, Charles Clore House has been thoroughly refurbished and modernised, with additional study spaces and group study and training rooms. A dedicated study room for IALS PhD students is on the Fifth Floor, adjacent to the research centres and academic offices.

Reader feedback is exceptionally positive, in relation to the library itself, the facilities and, of course, our friendly team of librarians. The most recent Library Reader Satisfaction Survey is available here, with an Overall Satisfaction rating of 97.5%.

A recent PhD graduate sums up the friendliness and helpfulness of the IALS librarians as follows:

The cooperation of the library staff and their unrelenting enthusiasm to always assist a researcher in locating the materials whenever they are called upon to do so will not be forgotten in a hurry.

Professor Colin King

is Reader in Law and Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.