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The Evolving Marriage Within a Latent Legal Framework: A time for Change? (SF19/LAW/CLAYTON-HELM)

  • Full or part time

    Prof R Arthur
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

With over half of the population of England and Wales over the age of 16, married or in a civil partnership, it is evident that marriage remains a fundamental part of many people’s lives. Recent legal disputes around the ability to enter into recognised relationships and have such statuses recognised highlight that the law on this area remains problematic (R (on the application of Steinfield and Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development [2018] UKSC 32 and Akhter v Khan [2018] EWFC 54). While legal developments such as the Irish Referendum on same-sex marriage demonstrates that the law is attempting to keep up with societal change, uncertainty remains for many couples.

This PhD therefore invites candidates to explore the law on marriage, the focus of which could be on areas such as, but not limited to: the law on civil partnerships in relation to heterosexual couples; the age at which a person is able to marry; religious marriages or polygamy. It is also anticipated that the thesis might include other jurisdictions, both for comparison and as a consequence of the rise in international marriages, and the subsequent involvement of multiple jurisdictions to questions of recognition.

In addition to determining the focus of the research, candidates should also consider whether they wish to take a doctrinal, socio-legal or comparative approach to the methodology, and should set this out within their proposal.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Frances Hamilton and Lauren Clayton-Helm, ‘Same-Sex Relationships, Choice of Law and the Continued Recognised Relationship Theory’ (2016) Journal of International and Comparative Law 3(1) 1-32.

Related Subjects

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