Socio-Legal Studies

The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) (within the Faculty of Law) has been for over 40 years and is an internationally leading centre for the analysis of law in society. The Centre's academic staff bring together a range of disciplinary perspectives from across the social sciences: law, sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, human geography and media studies. They draw on their rich multi-disciplinary expertise to study the everyday operations of law and legal processes that take different forms within and across societies and periods of history.

Researchers are often engaged in comparative and cross-cultural inquiries. Their expertise is complemented by associate research fellows and academic visitors, who may carry out joint research with the Centre’s staff and contribute to its extensive programme of academic activities.

The Centre trains a significant cohort of graduate researchers from both a range of social science and law training backgrounds - currently about 36 students in total. Graduate researchers are part of a vibrant academic and social community which offers a range of opportunities to become actively involved in the life of the Centre, such as through contributions to Discussion Groups or the editing of the Journal of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

The Socio-Legal Studies pathway offers a 1+3.5 route for students entering without a Masters quality that meets the 2022 ERSC Training Guidelines:

Students with an appropriate Masters degree that meets the ESRC’s 2022 Training Guidelines can enter directly onto the DPhil programme (+3.5):

CSLS students have been involved in the development of courses on the rule of law and constitutional design in association with the NGO ‘Lawyers for Justice in Libya’. They have also been involved in the transfer of research findings on participatory budgeting to a third sector organisation ‘Purpose’ in Colombia, and some students have worked with Unicef in Colombia on the design of transitional justice processes for children. Furthermore, some students have published elements of their academic research in widely accessible publications, such as the ‘New Statesman’ and ‘open democracy’.

This knowledge exchange work is also recognized by external bodies, with a Centre student currently being nominated for the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Colombia Award.

Typically 2-4 CSLS students each year take up internships with international organizations, including the UN in Geneva and Serbia, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and the British Institute for Comparative and International Law/Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.

Primarily students go on to careers in academia, but also pursue work in government policy-making and administration, private consultancies as well as legal practice.


Pathway leader: Prof Fernanda Pirie


University of Oxford

Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) within the Faculty of Law
Structure of provision: 1+3.5, +3.5