Studying for a PhD at the Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Study

The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) is a leading academic centre in the UK concentrating on  international refugee law and policy. As a PhD student at the RLI, you would be studying at a national focal point for leading and promoting cutting edge research in these fields.

With guidance from our expert supervisors, you'll carry out extensive independent research culminating in a thesis of up to 100,000 words. This research presents the opportunity to gain expertise in your area of interest while also honing a range of transferable skills. On completing this course, you'll be well prepared for specialist career paths both within academia and beyond.

Doctoral research at the Refugee Law Initiative is primarily campus-based, but distance-based doctoral research is also possible.

Choosing to start a PhD requires careful consideration as it can be a challenging and lengthy under-taking. The University of London and specifically the School of Advanced Study (SAS), where the RLI is based is, however, an excellent and supportive environment which will support you on your new academic journey. Indeed, SAS is the UK's national research hub in the humanities and offers a world-class research environment to our research students.

In addition, the dedicated Doctoral Centre at SAS supports researchers in the humanities in the School, across the UK, and internationally. It provides a freely-accessible and wide-ranging programme of research training in skills for humanities researchers of all sorts and wherever they may be located. It also co-ordinates and facilitates paid-for short courses and summer schools run by the institutes and other centres and departments at SAS. Internally, it oversees the academic experience of MPhil and PhD students in the School and provides expertise and support in learning technology for all teaching and learning across SAS.

Key Information

Subject Areas and Supervisors

The Refugee Law Initiative offers doctoral research supervision in broad areas relating to law and policy applicable to refugees and other displaced persons.

Specific areas of particular interest to current RLI academic staff reflect our projects and include:

Professor David Cantor
  • Refugee law and protection practice
  • Refugees fleeing war
  • Disasters, environment and mobility
  • Refugee protection in Latin America
  • Internal displacement
  • Criminality as a driver of displacement
Dr Sarah Singer
  • Refugee law and rights
  • Undesirable but unreturnable migrants
  • Asylum, criminality and terrorism
  • Seeking asylum in Europe
  • Humanitarian accountability in displacement situations
Dr Nicholas Maple
  • Accessing protection and solutions in Africa
  • The Global Refugee Regime
  • Refugee Camps and Urban Displacement

Submitting an application

Before submitting an application, you are advised to contact a member of the Refugee Law Initiative academic staff who has interests in your proposed field of study to discuss your proposal. 

Your application to the School will require you to submit a research proposal, so it is advised to have one drafted ahead of contacting RLI academic staff and submitting your formal application. Guidelines on drafting your research proposal are available here.

We would normally expect candidates for the doctoral programme to hold the equivalent of a UK first or second-class undergraduate degree and a distinction-level Masters degree. They would usually be in subjects relevant to the proposed field of doctoral research.

Fees and Funding

Fees are set annually and cover registration, tuition, and (in the case of research students) supervision. For the current MPhil/PhD tuition fees, please visit the School of Advanced Study website.

Please visit the MPhil/PhD Funding page for a list of scholarships, bursaries and fellowships, as well as government loans and postgraduate loans. 

Application deadline

For the current application deadline information and modes of study, please visit the School of Advanced Study website.