Entrance Requirements

We welcome applications from outstanding candidates from all countries. All applicants for research degrees are normally required to have a Master’s degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a subject appropriate to the programme to be followed.

We have a strong preference for a Merit or Distinction grade on the LLM/Master’s degree, ideally with evidence of excellence in extended written work or dissertation. For those who do not have an LLM or Master’s degree, we normally require alternative evidence of the applicant’s ability to undertake high quality written research, for example, through relevant research work experience.

English language proficiency

All students whose first language is not English must be able to provide recent evidence (gained in the last 2 years) that their written and spoken English language is adequate for postgraduate study. For further information on the Institute’s language requirements see English Language Competency.


In addition, applicants must be supported by at least two satisfactory academic references, which normally should be from teaching member(s) of the most recent academic department(s) in which the applicant has studied. In cases where the most recent academic study was more than five years ago, one non-academic reference may be sent in addition to one academic reference. This should normally be from the applicant's most recent employer.

How to Apply

The most important part of your application for an MPhil or PhD degree is the research proposal and it is the primary element on which your application is assessed. For guidance on preparing your research proposal, see the following document: 

IALS research proposal guidelines

Due to the volume of enquiries and proposals, we are unable to discuss proposals prior to submission of applications.

Applicants who have queries about the application process should email admissions@sas.ac.uk

For information about research expertise at IALS, please see here.

For information about researching and studying at IALS, see here.

Examples of some current MPhil/PhD topics at IALS are available here.

Your application and start date

The application process can take a number of months, and applicants should inform themselves of the deadlines for applying for any scholarships or studentships to fund research studies. Applicants should note that it is important to submit the formal application for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme before the deadline for any scholarship application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all requirements are complied with. 

Research students may begin at the start of the academic year in September/October. In exceptional circumstances, a research student may commence the research degree in January. The majority of research students begin their degrees in the September/October intake; most find this to be the most convenient time to begin their research programme, as it is the start of the academic year, when the majority of induction programmes and introductory courses are scheduled.

International applicants who need to apply for a student visa to study in the UK should ensure they submit their complete application early, by April or May, for an October start. If you are currently taking your LLM and the date that your degree is awarded falls after September, you will have to apply for entry in the following year.

For information about funding, fees and scholarships, please see here.

Online application form and more information

Contact Information

Research Degrees

School of Advanced Study, University of London
Email: research.degrees@sas.ac.uk