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Legal Practice Doctor of

  • Level(s) of Study: Postgraduate research
  • Start Date(s): January 2021
  • Duration: Between 4 and 8 years
  • Study Mode(s): Part-time
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information


The programme has been designed to provide those who work in the broad area of the public and human service professions an opportunity to study part-time for a doctorate.

After the Legal Services Act 2007, how do you stand out from the crowd?

A professional doctorate is a research degree designed for those in professional practice to deepen their understanding and engagement with practice. You may be interested in conventional legal doctrinal research, perhaps in a practice-based area such as funding of litigation; or the law in action in areas such as insolvency law or legal education by rigorous socio-legal data collection and analysis.

In the NTU programme, you will have the advantage of working with and sharing discussion with colleagues from other disciplines, principally social practice and education for additional and unusual insight into their own work and working practices. Exposure, in this multi-disciplinary setting, to challenging theoretical frameworks; philosophies and forms of enquiry is intellectually stimulating and personally inspiring.

Research projects

A suitable research project for the professional doctorate will have a close relationship with your own practice and identity as a lawyer. It may involve investigating or implementing change at an organisational or wider level. It will involve you in making decisions about what and how to research, and in exploring the implications of that research, not only for your practice, but for yourself.

Consistent with the approach used successfully by Nottingham Law School for almost twenty years, you will be encouraged to engage in a process of continuous reflection on yourself, your practice and your research throughout the programme. We expect you to become expert in your chosen field of investigation, developing and demonstrating your autonomy and confidence as a researching professional through discussion, reading and research investigation.

Programme aims

  • Provide students with an opportunity to explore both the complex relationships between knowledge, theory and practice, and also the intricate nexus of understanding the world and changing it.
  • Develop students' ability to design and implement a research project at the boundaries of knowledge of their professional and educational fields.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to develop their judgement, foresight and problem analysis by applying theoretical and philosophically tuned forensic skills to the research material derived from their investigations.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to develop as both reflective and reflexive practitioners who have the intellectual and personal adaptability to be able to deal with the complexities of organisational change and ambiguity.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to develop communication skills which enables participants to communicate effectively with both academics and practitioners from the world of education and the communities in which people live, and to act as mediators between the constituencies involved.

In order to meet these aims the programme of study has been structured around the process of research.

Admission to the programme will be by application and interview. International students are welcome (subject to English language requirements). You do not have to be a qualified lawyer to achieve the D Legal Prac award, but should be involved in some form of legal practice, e.g. in the in-house, academic (including vocational), regulatory or not-for-profit sectors.

Contact details

Doctoral School Administrator
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 8154

What you’ll study

The Doctor of Legal Practice involves students in two formal elements of activity: workshops and supervision of their own research

You will attend workshops which are co-taught with the Doctor of Education and Doctor of Social Practice.

Document One (5,000 words) – a research proposal setting out the research question or questions, the professional context, how the question or questions will be investigated and any ethical issues.

Document Two Element 1 (10,000 words) – a literature review analysing the professional and academic literature on the subject.

Document Two Element 2 (10,000 words) – a report on your chosen methodology and research design.

Document Two Element 3 (10,000 words) – a report on your data collection analysis.

Students who exit at this stage, having successfully completed all of the above documents, will normally be eligible for an MPhil award.

Document Three (45,000 words) – is the main thesis which answers your overall research question. It will draw on the previous documents but is likely to contain additional literature analysis and may include additional investigation.

  • Document Four (5,000 words) – a reflective report on your experiences and development as a researcher.
  • Documents Three and Four are assessed by viva voce examination, involving an external and an internal examiner.
  • Students are also encouraged to form cross-disciplinary study circles of their peers for mutual support.

How you’re taught


The course is structured in phases over a minimum four year period, with a maximum registration period of eight years.


You will attend two or three workshops, in Nottingham, in each of the first three years of your study. These workshops are either one day or two days in duration and are co-taught with the Prof Doc in Education and Prof Doc in Social Practice. They deal with topics that are generically relevant to research at doctorate level. Each workshop is linked to a specific stage in the project.

Your research project

Unlike the PhD, which is assessed by a single thesis delivered at the end of the project, the professional doctorate structure involves students in shaping their research project around a sequence of documents, some of which are submitted and assessed during the first three years of the project (and you should project manage your time accordingly). You are not required to undertake empirical data collection (eg by questionnaire or interview) as part of your Prof Doc Legal Practice project, but you may do so, and your Prof Doc Education and Prof Doc Social Practice colleagues will often do so. This useful document describes different kinds of legal research.

Careers and employability

This programme provides a doctoral qualification for practising lawyers and those working in related professions such as legal educators, aiding personal and professional development.

Entry requirements

  • You will need to be well qualified in your chosen field.
  • Applicants are normally in possession of a master's degree or equivalent qualification (which may include professional qualifications).
  • They typically have at least seven years of relevant experience.
  • Students with only a good honours degree in your field or a master's degree in an unrelated field, provided you have an equivalent amount of professional experience in the field to that expected of standard candidates, may be considered.
  • International applicants will need to supply evidence of English language proficiency.

Fees and funding


See our fees and funding page for details.


Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our funding pages will answer all your questions.

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduates’ guide funding page for information about sourcing grants, bursaries and scholarships, and much more.


See our fees and funding page for details.


We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study at the University.

How to apply

How to apply

Visit the Doctoral School's step by step guide to make an application.

The normal benchmark for the Doctorate in Legal Practice admission will be professional qualification plus seven years post-qualification experience (PQE).

Applicants are requested to include a short statement about their proposed project. For example this might include:

  • Provisional title
  • The topic or area of law or legal practice to be investigated and how this is linked to your own professional practice
  • The problem or hypothesis to be tested (the research question(s) or problem to be addressed)
  • The methods and techniques to be used in the research – for example, might empirical methods such as interviews or surveys be involved? If so, do you have any previous experience of such methods?
  • A brief bibliography of any sources you have already consulted or identified as of relevance
  • How your proposed project might relate to existing discussion, debate, research or literature.

Should I apply for the Doctorate in Legal Practice or a part-time PhD?

For more information

Please contact the Doctoral School Administrator, by email or telephone +44 (0)115 848 8154.

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