Law research

The University of Stirling Law School has a strong reputation for excellence in research: staff are committed to producing high quality publications, which impact on legal scholarship and outside academia. Students benefit directly from that expertise in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and in PhD supervision.

Our overall research mission is to foster excellent legal research without any prescription as to subject matter or methodology, and to encourage and support colleagues to develop their scholarship. The Grade Point Average measuring the overall quality of the Law School’s research outputs in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) was ranked first for law in Scotland. The 2014 REF also determined that 65% of our research publications were either world leading or internationally excellent, and our research impact case studies, which showcase the impact that our research has outside academia, were found to provide evidence of very considerable or considerable impact in terms of reach and significance in relation to law-making and policy-making.

Our research has been funded by competitive funding awards such as with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, national human rights institutions, the Modern Law Review and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Our research

Child and Family Law

Child and Family Law research at Stirling has played a key role in shaping the law at both domestic and international level. Our experts have contributed to a wide range of national and international law bodies, including the UN Convention on Rights of the Child Incorporation Advisory Group; the Scottish Law Commission; the British Academy’s Childhood Policy Programme; the ‘Kilbrandon Again’ inquiry, jointly commissioned by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland and Action for Children and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Environmental and Energy Law

Research and teaching on environmental and energy law and policy is a core area of expertise at the University of Stirling. We work across the natural and the social sciences and in the context of the University International Environment Centre to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the challenges associated with environmental and energy governance. Our staff are engaged in high impact policy-orientated research on climate change law, renewable energy governance, environmental rights, and the enforcement of environmental law.

Human Rights

Human Rights research and teaching is an interdisciplinary endeavour at the University of Stirling. We work across Philosophy, History, Political Sciences, Social Sciences and Law to provide an interdisciplinary lens on human rights research relating to everyday life. Our staff are engaged in high impact policy-orientated research ranging in issues from economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to housing, food and health, children’s rights, as well as intellectual property and human rights and climate justice.

Private International Law

This small group of legal scholars aspires to carry out world leading research on the best legal framework for cross-border civil disputes. It seeks to have high level global impact by suggesting ideas for and working closely with the one international organisation responsible for private international law - the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

Hands reaching upwards

Research Spotlight

Find out how our research has been informing Scotland’s approach to the legal incorporation of international human rights obligations into domestic law.

Stirling’s leading role in human rights reform

Featured research

Smoke from factory chimneys

Establishing legal responsibility for the impacts of climate change

The links between climate change impacts – including storms, wildfires and environmental damage – and human rights obligations were debated at a public event involving a University of Stirling academic at the London School of Economics.

Scales of justice

Law Working Papers

Explore the University of Stirling Law Working Papers series. The series has been established to provide its legal academics, doctoral students and visiting researchers working in all areas of law with the opportunity to disseminate their research to encourage discussion.

Faces made of paper

MSc Human Rights and Diplomacy

Our Human Rights and Diplomacy programme is taught in partnership with the leading training body of the United Nations: the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Research Bulletin

Read our Research Bulletin for the latest news from the Law School and more details of what our experts are currently working on.

PhD opportunities in Law

Law postgraduate research

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, we were ranked 1st in Scotland for research publications in Law. Our staff are committed to producing high quality publications, which impact on legal scholarship and outside academia. PhD research in Law at Stirling is encouraged in any area where current staff have the expertise to supervise a student at the high level needed to do an excellent PhD. In particular we offer expertise in: Family and Child Law, Environmental and Energy Law, Private International Law and Arbitration, and Human Rights. Our Law staff are involved in a number of research networks and groups – from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Implementation Project, to coordinating the Economic and Social Rights Academic Network for the UK and Ireland. Postgraduate students undertaking a PhD or MPhil in Law at the University benefit directly from our vibrant, interdisciplinary research environment, and play a key role in furthering the division’s knowledge.

Read more about how to apply and see entry requirements What's the difference between a PhD and an MPhil?