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PhD Studentship Opportunity: The Force of Law: Anything Special?


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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Dr Hrafn Asgeirsson No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Traditionally, one of the main tasks of general jurisprudence has been to explain the distinctive demands that the law makes of us. Recently, however, several authors have argued that there isn’t anything distinctive about the way in which the law gives us reasons to act. The law, it is argued, simply affects us in a variety of ways, each of which is shared with many other phenomena – ranging from etiquette to games to parental directives. Some even go so far as to claim that there isn’t really much interesting work to be done in this area of legal theorizing at all. The purpose of the proposed project is to adjudicate this foundational dispute.

The first component of the project is to compile an overview of the various jurisprudential approaches to the issue of “legal normativity”, focusing on developments in the past hundred years or so. The second component is to thoroughly map out the recent challenges to the project of explaining the normativity of law. The third – and main – component is to develop the best possible response to the (strengthened) sceptical challenge and to evaluate whether and to what extent it succeeds.

The supervisors for this PhD project are Dr Hrafn Asgeirsson and Dr Kenneth Ehrenberg, Co-Directors of the Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy. Dr Asgeirsson is a Reader in Philosophy and Law, and author of The Nature and Value of Vagueness in the Law (Hart Publishing) – his main interests lie in philosophy of law, philosophy of language, and metaethics. Dr Ehrenberg is Reader in Public Law and Legal Theory, and author of The Functions of Law (OUP) - his primary interests are in general jurisprudence, especially jurisprudential methodology, legal ontology, legal authority & normativity, and legal validity.

This is a 3-year project starting in July 2021.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold at least a 2:1 Bachelors degree along with a Masters or JD degree at a minimum of a merit level in Law, or other relevant discipline, from an approved university.

If you are unable to offer these qualifications, you may still be considered for admission if you hold a first-class Bachelors degree in Law, or other relevant discipline, from an approved university, or a professional or other qualification deemed to be appropriate and equivalent.

English language requirements: IELTS Academic 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

How to apply

Please provide a 1-2 page cover letter, addressing why you would like to take on this project and how it fits with your skills and background.

Applications for a PhD place should also be submitted via the Law PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. When prompted for your ‘Research Project’, please copy and paste this project description.

Interviews will be held shortly after the application deadline. 


Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fee covered. Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21). RTSG of £1,000 p.a. Personal Computer (provided by the department).


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