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Planning for the Future: Legal Decision-Making and Dementia

Birmingham Law School

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About the Project

People with dementia and those who care for them are some of the most disadvantaged and powerless people in our society. They require special attention in both law and society to ensure that their voices are heard, their rights are respected, and their interests are protected. Yet, as with older people more generally, little sustained attention has been paid to the unique position of people with dementia in law. Dementia is a generic term used to describe a range of terminal, organic, degenerative brain diseases, which have common symptoms including declining memory, reasoning and communication abilities and a gradual loss of the skills required to carry out activities of daily living. As people with dementia lose the ability to make decisions for themselves, legal frameworks surrounding mental capacity, advance decisions, best interests, the Court of Protection, wills and power of attorney become relevant.

Applications and enquiries are invited from candidates who wish to develop a doctoral research project exploring the ways that people with a diagnosis of dementia approach putting their affairs in order following diagnosis, and how they make decisions about the future. Projects using feminist and critical theoretical frameworks and empirical, socio-legal methodological approaches would be particularly welcomed. Proposals relating to legal contexts anywhere in the world are welcome, as are comparative approaches to mental capacity law. For more information on Professor Harding’s research, see her university profile at:

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

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Funding Notes

Birmingham Law School can support excellent doctoral applicants to apply for AHRC, ESRC and University scholarships. Deadlines for these scholarships are typically in January. Information is available through the University of Birmingham website:
Please note that all funding is by competitive application, and that scholarships have different eligibility requirements, with some restricted to UK/EU applicants or those who have been resident in the UK for over 3 years.
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