Undertake a PhD in Law at VU and contribute change to society, with a career monitoring and commenting on local and international legal systems.
PhD in Law program at VU
If you want to attain a deeper understanding of the law and its effects, our PhD program gives you the resources and support to achieve your goals.
Our research program maintains strong links with government and industry – offering access to real-world scenarios for investigation. We have partnerships with public-sector authorities such as the Department of Justice and Law Institute of Victoria, as well as private law firms.
Our governance research program focuses on:
- governance and regulation
- the scholarship of legal education
- international law
- courts and justice.
Throughout your study, you’ll have the support of a supervisory team of leading legal researchers. You’ll learn to present your research findings clearly and effectively in a thesis, and through:
- public presentations for broader audiences
- other publications.
When you undertake a doctoral degree at VU, you’ll specialise in one of our areas of research focus. These are supported by expertise from the University, research partners, institutes and research centres.
We work with industry partners to solve real-world problems and our staff include leading researchers in local and international law.
Our research institute, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, provides legal education, training, research and support services on law-related topics for industry, government and the community.
You’ll also benefit from the guidance of professionals appointed as adjuncts to the law college. These are honorary staff who hold positions in the legal community. VU’s adjunct professors include retired High Court Judge the Hon Michael Kirby, and Former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.
VU offers fantastic opportunities to network and learn through industry partnerships and international collaborations.
You’ll benefit from embedding your research in real scenarios. You’ll also have a chance to conduct your research overseas with one of our exchange partners.
Some of our major clients, partners and industry associations are:
- Department of Justice, Victoria
- Migration Agents Registration Authority
- Migration Institute of Australia
- Department of Labour (New Zealand)
- FCG Legal
- Department of Education and Employment (Commonwealth; Learn Experience Access Professions Program)
- Rob Stary Lawyers
- Law Institute of Victoria
- Council of Legal Education
- Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria (Melbourne, Sunshine)
- Society of Notaries of Victoria
- Victoria Police.
Our Queen St Campus puts you right in the middle of Melbourne’s legal precinct, giving you excellent access to the courts and legal libraries. Our close relationships with courts, legal services and law firms provide many unique research opportunities. You’ll gain real experience and insight into legal practice, and build networks for your career.
VU Research gives you opportunities to:
- connect with other researchers
- participate in research festivals and competitions
- develop your research skills
- get funding for your research
- publish and promote your findings.
We offer support for graduate researchers including:
- an orientation program
- a specialised Office for Researcher Training, Quality & Integrity
- study spaces
- units to help you conceptualise and contextualise your research
- research ambassadors and student association.
Find out more about graduate opportunities at VU.
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Public figures such as former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce deliver guest lectures in our law centre
Law lecturers and researchers Kathy Laster and Nadav Prawer have expertise in international conflict resolution, criminology, legal history, gender and multiculturalism.
Careers in law and legislative policy
A PhD in Law will help you advance your career as a barrister or solicitor. It also opens the doors to academic or government-advisory roles.
Careers in law are paid well. Following are average salaries from the government site, Job Outlook.
The PhD is a research based degree with a maximum duration of 4 years (full time) and 8 years (part time).
As well as enrolling in Research Thesis units Doctor of Philosophy (Science) students will be required to complete two coursework units, ROP8001 and ROP8002.
An average result of 70% is required in the compulsory coursework units in order to proceed to candidature confirmation. Ongoing progression is subject to policy and procedures for candidature management as per the VU HDR Policy.
On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
|1.||expert understanding of a substantial body of theory and its practical application at the frontier of a field of work or learning, including substantial expert knowledge of ethical research principles and methods applicable to the field.|
|2.||intellectual independence and cognitive skills to undertake a systematic investigation, reflect critically on theory and practice and evaluate existing knowledge and ideas, including identifying, evaluating and critically analysing the validity of research studies and their applicability to a research problem.|
|3.||expert cognitive, technical and creative skills to: design, develop and implement a research project/s to systematically investigate a research problem; develop, adapt and implement research methodologies to extend and redefine existing knowledge; manage, analyse, evaluate and interpret data, synthesising key ideas and theorising within the context of key literature.|
|4.||expert communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions; to disseminate and promote new insights; and to cogently present a complex investigation of originality, or original research, both for external examination and to specialist (eg researcher peers) and non-specialist (industry and/or community) audiences through informal interaction, scholarly publications, reports and formal presentations.|
|5.||capacity to reflect on, develop and evaluate strategies for achieving their own learning and career goals.|
|6.||intellectual independence, initiative and creativity in new situations and/or for further learning.|
|7.||ethical practice and full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs.|
|8.||autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as an expert and independent scholar.|
What's a unit?
A unit or 'subject' is the actual class you'll attend in the process of completing a course.
Most courses have a mixture of compulsory 'core' units that you need to take and optional elective units that you can choose to take based on your area of interest, expertise or experience.
Each unit is worth a set amount of study credits based on the amount of time you study. Generally, 1 credit is equal to 1 hour of study per week.
Admission & pathways
Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee you entry into this course. Some courses receive more applications than the number of places available. In this situation we will also assess your education, work and other relevant experience.
Achieved an IELTS, (Academic Module) result with an overall score of 6.5 (no band less than 6) or equivalent and completed a Masters degree or a relevant four year undergraduate degree with Honours or its equivalent at a high standard.
Find out if you meet the entry requirements, including English language and academic requirements.
If you have completed study with another university or institution and believe you are eligible to receive credit for skills and past study, you can apply for advanced standing.
Applications for advanced standing can be made after a discussion with your course coordinator or academic adviser.