Doctoral Studies

More than one hundred teachers are engaged full-time in teaching and research at the Department of Law. As a doctoral candidate at our department, you will therefore be part of a dynamic and international research environment.


Doctoral studies in law consist of four years of full-time studies, leading to a Doctor of Laws Degree (LL.D). Most time is devoted to the writing of a thesis, normally in the form of a monograph that should not exceed 300 pages. In addition, two obligatory courses (see below, "Doctoral Courses") as well as the presentation of the research topic at seminars is required.

Doctoral studies are intended to educate new researchers in order to enable them to conduct independent research in academic institutions and elsewhere. As a doctoral candidate, you will advance into an independent and critically analysing researcher while you are being educated in the scientific traditions. By improving your theoretical proficiency and methodological skills, you will learn how to ask questions, reason, structure, analyse and reflect over your thesis topic.

Doctoral Studies in Legal Sciences

Legal science is the scientific study of legal and judiciary systems and involves the process of analysing and systematising the law, as well as making contributions to the development of the law. It also examines the origins and developments of the law, its philosophical aspects,  as well as the relationship between legal systems and other societal phenomena.

The Faculty of Law enjoys a leading position in Sweden and international prominence in Child Law, Intellectual Property Law, Commercial Law, Law and Information Technology and Penal Law, but virtually all fields of law are represented:

  • Jurisprudence
  • Private Law (General Private Law, Labour Law, Law of Associations, Family/Child Law, Land Law, Insurance Law, Intellectual Property Law, Marketing Law, Maritime Law)
  • European Integration Law
  • Financial Law Public
  • International Law Private
  • International and Procedural Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Public Law
  • Procedural Law
  • History of Law
  • Law and Information Technology
  • Criminal Law

In order to meet the general entrance requirements to doctoral studies, the applicant must have completed a university degree with completed courses equivalent to at least 240 university credits, of which 60 credits must be at an advanced level, or otherwise have acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

The specific entrance requirement is a completed juris kandidat/juristexamen (masters of laws) degree or the equivalent. Eligibility can also be granted to applicants who, through professional experience or other training are deemed to have acquired competence equivalent to that necessary to conduct studies at the post-graduate level, both in terms of academic skills as well as legal knowledge relevant to the research area. A successful applicant is to have a very high level of Swedish and good knowledge of English, or in the alternative, a very high level of English.

Candidates with foreign diplomas should ensure that they meet the requirement for special eligibility. In order to satisfy the special qualification requirements, the student may have to pass exams in subjects selected by the prospective supervisor and the Research Committee.

Information about research studies can also be found on the website of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. The interests of the doctoral and licentiate candidates are actively promoted by the Doctoral Candidate Council.

The Research Committee of the Faculty of Law decides on admission. The selection among eligible candidates is based on their deemed capacity to carry out studies at doctoral level. This is assessed on the basis of the following criteria, as stipulated by the Faculty of Law:

  • the applicant's general competence;
  • the doctoral project proposal – the originality of the project – the theoretical framework and the question at issue in relation to previous research – the clarity of the method and its relevance in relation to the research question at issue – the production of new knowledge and its relevance; and
  • the viability of the project plan.

The applicant’s general competence is assessed through proven academic performance, essays and other writings demonstrating the ability to make a clear presentation and critical analysis, as well as professional experiences and other similar activities relevant to the education.

The criteria taken into account in the assessment of competence include: the applicant´s documented subject knowledge and its relevance to the research; the ability to express oneself orally and in writing; the capacity for analytical thinking; creativity, self-initiative and independence as well as work capacity. As a basis for this assessment, the following is reviewed: previous studies and grades, as well as the quality of the individual work, references, relevant experience, interviews, the applicant’s written motivation as to the research proposal.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University

For the specific instructions applying at the Department of Law, see below under "How to apply".

Doctoral studies pertains to a Degree of Doctor (PhD) of Legal Science or a Degree of Licentiate of Legal Science. The programme consists of 240 higher education credits (credits) for a doctoral degree and 120 credits for a licentiate degree.

General syllabus for doctoral legal studies

How to apply

Admission to the doctoral programme takes place once a year during the admission, between 1 February and 1 March. The Research Committee of the Faculty of Law will handle the applications and decide on admission. Information about approvals will be announced at the latest by the end of June. The programme starts on 1 September.

Below is some practical advice on how to prepare the application for research studies. This advice is no guarantee to be approved, but it secures a correct assessment of the application.

Admission to the doctoral programme takes place once a year. The admission period takes place between 1 February and 1 March, and it is during that time only that you must submit your application. If 1 March is a Saturday or a public holiday, the closest following business day is applicable. Thereafter, the application is processed by the Research Committee that decides on admission.

The Research Committee accepts as many candidates as can be employed as doctoral students at the Department of Law. The number of employed doctoral students varies according to the budget situation. Candidates who hold sufficiently high standard but are not offered a doctoral employment can nonetheless be accepted to the LL.D program on the condition that the candidate secures suitable external funding and submits it to the head of department, who will need to approve it. The candidate has until the next admission period to confirm that an acceptable external financing exists. The project description must be identical to that which was submitted in March.

For correct consideration, it is important that your application is complete, and that the documentation contains correct and relevant information. A list of the documents to be enclosed can be found below. There is no template for the project description to be submitted, since the project description will indicate the applicants’ ability to formulate legal presentations of problems.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.

Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University's recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

In addition , please include the following documents:

  1. The form Application for Admission to Doctoral studies (220 Kb) . Please state "Law science with specialization in either of these areas; Criminal Law, Environmental Law, EU Law, Financial Law, History of Law, Jurisprudence, Law of Information and Technology, Private International and Procedural Law, Private Law, Procedural Law, Public Law or Public International Law in the box for "Subject".
  2. Cover letter
  3. CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of degree projects/theses
  4. Research proposal describing the intended project – including research question, theoretical framework, method and material, how the project is intended to be conducted and a literature review that indicates the scientific added value of the intended project
  5. Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (no more than 6 files)
  6. Letters of Recommendation (no more than 6 files)
  7. Degree projects/theses (no more than 6 files)

In connection to the admission to doctoral studies, the Department Board appointsa main supervisor with the scientific competence corresponding to that of an associate professor, as well as an co-supervisor with the relevant competence. One of the supervisors must be an employee of the Faculty unless special circumstances lead the Research Committee to decide otherwise. If for some reason, the supervisor cannot perform the supervisory duties, the Research Committee shall, if possible, appoint a successor. If it is impossible to find a successor within the Faculty, an external supervisor can be appointed.

Project Description

When considering applications, the Research Committee attaches substantial weight to the project description that the candidates submit with their application. Candidates should therefore pay particular attention to the careful formulation of their research questions in their project description.

The proposal should be written in Swedish or English. When considering applications for research studies, the Research Committee bases its assessments on the following criteria:

• The applicant’s qualifications

• The project description, i.e. the originality of the proposal ( theoretical framework as well as the relevance of the proposed research issues in relation to previous research) and the clarity of methodology in relation to the research issues

• The contribution to expanding relevant knowledge in the field

• The feasibility of the LL.D. proposal.

When assessing the qualifications of the applicant, the Research Committee considers the applicant’s academic performance, their written work and whether it demonstrates an ability to present and develop an argument in a clear and logical fashion and an ability for independent critical thinking and analysis, as well as the applicant’s professional and other activities of importance for the programme.

The applicant is expected to be able to fit their project into the research tradition. Thus, the project description should reveal how the proposed project relates to earlier research. In this connection, it should be set out how urgent the project may be assumed to be, and in what way the project can be assumed to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. The project description shall not contain any bibliography.

The project description shall not be longer than 5-10 pages of typewritten text. The number of footnotes shall be kept to a minimum.

Yet another relevant issue in the assessment of project description is the extent to which applicants have succeeded in limiting their research proposal to a specific area of investigation. In this context, a number of issues are important, including the following:

  • Whether the research issues belong to the field of jurisprudence, in the sense that a legal approach to such issues provides a coherent framework for research.
  • Whether the scope of the proposal is appropriately limited, so that the proposed research can be completed within four years of LL.D. studies.
  • Whether the framework of the proposed research is set out as clearly and concisely as possible. This need not involve a totally exhaustive discussion of all aspects of the proposed research, however, as some aspects of research may be adjusted and amended as the candidates’ LL.D. studies progress.

In addition, it is worth noting that research projects in law may incorporate different perspectives, depending on the research issue. The perspective taken is related to the method to be used in the study. The approach in scholarly works on legal matters may take the perspective (the list is not exclusive) of:

  • Legal Dogmatics
  • Law and Sociology
  • Law and Economy
  • Law and Philosophy
  • Transdisciplinary considerastions
  • Legal comparisons

Terms of employment

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Besides, the Faculty can only approve doctoral candidates for which there is sufficient financial support.

Research studies are either financed through an employment contract with the Department of law or by external funding. The employment is held for the period of time equivalent to full-time study at licentiate/doctoral level. Research students may be required to carry out teaching activities, in which case their employment period can be extended to five years, depending on their teaching load. The employment contract is issued for one year at a time with the prospect for continuance as long as the research studies are performed in a satisfactory manner.

In case of external funding, the grant has to cover the costs for the whole period of research studies, i.e. four years in case of doctoral studies and two years for the licentiate level.

The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Doctoral Courses

In addition to the dissertation, it is mandatory to study method courses of 30 credits. Beginning in the autumn 2015, Juridicum has offered two obligatory and four optional method courses of 7.5 credits each. The mandatory courses are given each autumn term and the optional according to a rolling schedule (see below). Four of the courses (including the two obligatory) are in English and two in Swedish.

Mandatory courses:

Optional/Creditable course:

Due to current circumstances, the registration period for these courses has been prolonged:

Registration for the fall courses (fall 2020)
15 May to 15 June 5 August

Registration for the spring courses (spring 2021)
15 November to 15 December  See below:

  • Global Legal Research and Information Management: Legal Scholars and New Technologies (GRiM)
    Course start: 1 February. Deadline for registration: 15 January
  • Strategi, kreativitet och forskningsetik
    Course start: 23 March. Deadline for registration: 15 February 

Please contact Marie Hellgren ( if you want to study any of these courses.


Do you still wonder about some aspects of Doctoral Studies at the Faculty of Law? Check our FAQ!

FAQ Doctoral Studies


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