Global Ph.D. Programme

Program Description

Global Ph.D. Programme in Law


The Global Ph.D. Programme in Law is divided into two stages: the two-semester PhD course corresponding to 60 ECTS and the six-semester dissertation preparation stage corresponding to 180 ECTS. The aim of the PhD course is to prepare the candidate to produce a thesis proposal [30 ECTS]. Students are required to take three mandatory courses at this stage: a semester-long Methodology Seminar [10 ECTS], a semester-long Research Workshop [10 ECTS], and the year-long Scientific Debate Forum [10 ECTS].

The Methodology Seminar examines the nature of legal reasoning, the truth-conditions of legal argument, the history of legal thought and a variety of resources from other disciplines useful to the study of law. It is a ‘nuts and bolts’ course for researchers in the field.

The Research Workshop is designed to enable doctoral candidates to articulate and to implement a research proposal and to conduct forms of research relevant to the study of law in a global context, namely traditional library research, online research, and empirical research.

The Scientific Debate Forum is held every two weeks; it consists in a paper presentation by a guest academic followed by a discussion open to the entire research community at the Law School and the Research Centre. Attendance of the Forum is mandatory for doctoral candidates with the aim of exposing them to cutting-edge legal scholarship in different fields of law and embroiling them in the culture of academic debate.

The PhD course culminates with the thesis proposal, which is a document of no more than 63,000 characters identifying the proposed subject of the dissertation, explaining the methodology (or methodologies) adopted, containing a brief literature review, and outlining the building blocks of the future thesis. The thesis proposal is assessed by a committee composed of the supervisor and two professors appointed by the Scientific Board of the Law School. Approval of the proposal moves the candidate into the second stage of the programme — preparing a dissertation.

The curricular structure of the dissertation preparation stage is flexible, so as to suit the needs of each candidate. Each candidate and his/her supervisor, with the help of a Tutor, should decide what course of study is appropriate given the former’s goals and the subject of his/her thesis. In any case, the candidate is expected to report every year on the progress of his/her work and the supervisor should monitor closely and support the candidate throughout this stage.

Mentoring of the students

Mentorship is secured by a Tutor in the first stage of the programme and by the former and the Supervisor once the candidate proceeds to the second stage. The Tutor is chosen among the CGSL faculty. The Tutor’s role is to support and monitor Ph.D. candidates. In the first stage of the programme, the Tutor (i) meets each candidate to learn about his/her research agenda and to help him/her build a thesis proposal; (ii) directs  him/her to faculty members who have published in the area; (iii) assists the candidate in selecting a pool of potential supervisors; (iv) suggests the attendance of courses, seminars, and conferences besides the formal curriculum that are likely to enrich the candidate’s knowledge and to lend greater focus to his/her research goals; (v) and answers the candidates’ queries and concerns about the curricular mechanics and the administrative structure of the programme. In sum, the Tutor personifies the institutional support that the Law School grants each candidate from the very first day into the programme.

Supervisors are expected to monitor closely the work of their supervisees. To that effect, during the dissertation preparation stage candidates are expected to meet with their supervisors on a monthly basis to assess the candidate’s progress, to discuss texts and to test arguments, to devise research strategies, and to examine draft chapters of the thesis. Supervisors are expected to take responsibility for the candidate’s work and the latter should regard their supervisors as primary interlocutors throughout the dissertation preparation stage.

International Collaboration

CGSL has exchange agreements and scientific protocols with high-profile law schools around the globe.

  • United States:    Cornel law School, Duke Law School, University of Iowa College of Law,     University of Illinois College of Law, University of Houston Law Center,     Washington University in St. Louis Law School.
  • Europe: University of Antwerp Faculty of Law, EBS Wiesbaden Law School, Fribourg University Law School, IE Law School, King’s College London – The Dickson Poon Law School, Leuven Faculty of Law – University of Maastricht, University of Oslo Faculty of Law, Tilburg Law School, School of Law – Utrecht      University. 
  • Brazil: Escola de Direito da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (São Paulo) e Escola de Direito da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (Rio de Janeiro).

As part of an ongoing strategy to afford doctoral students state-of-the-art resources for research, CGSL forged partnerships with the law schools at the University of Michigan and the University of Georgetown, in the United States, to facilitate the admission of our Ph.D. candidates as Visiting Researchers to those law schools. CGSL also holds a special arrangement with Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands that enables our doctoral candidates to attend Ph.D. seminars offered there.


General Contacts

Católica Global School of Law


Phone: (+351) 214 269 860