PhD Curriculum

The PhD program consists of five components:

  1. Course work
  2. Comprehensive exams
  3. Dissertation proposal and defence
  4. Dissertation
  5. Final examination

PhD students are admitted to candidacy after successfully defending their dissertation proposal and at that point become PhD candidates. Students must proceed to candidacy by the end of year three. Students must complete all requirements for the PhD within six years of the date of first registration in the program.

Course Work

All students in the PhD program are required to enrol in the two-part doctoral seminar, which is to be completed in the first year of study.

LAW 610 (Term 1)

This seminar provides students with a selective overview of major developments in legal theory over the twentieth century. It is intended to provide a grounding for further jurisprudential work by students in the course of their studies, including comprehensive examinations in the area of legal theory.

LAW 611 (Term 2)

This seminar will provide a selective overview of a range of approaches to interdisciplinary research in law. Readings include a wide range of interdisciplinary, critical and socio-legal scholarship. The seminar will also explore the multiple ways in which theory and method are intertwined in legal research.

Students may also take other courses, including directed research papers, in the law school or in other Faculties at UBC (with permission of the Graduate Program at Allard Hall and the other Faculty) for credit or as auditing students.

Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exams follow the coursework and precede the writing of the dissertation proposal. The process includes building a reading list of approximately 30 monographs or articles, reading and preparing short descriptions of the items in the list, and then successfully completing a written and oral examination.

The comprehensive exam process is intended to provide students with a broadly based theoretical and methodological frame for their further study and teaching in Law

Dissertation Proposal and Defence

The dissertation proposal is a 20-30 page document that outlines the dissertation project. It is to provide:

  • a clear justification of the subject, setting the dissertation in the context of relevant scholarly literatures;
  • a working hypothesis & a background theory;
  • a bibliography;
  • an outline of the proposed dissertation (organized under chapter headings) and a reasonable projection of the time-frame in which work is to be completed; and
  • a bibliography.

Students defend their dissertation proposal to their supervisory committees in an oral defence. Once successfully defended a student becomes a PhD candidate.