SCLP PhD studentship

(for Oct 2020 entry; all applicants welcome but covers only equivalent of UK/EU fees)

The Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy (SCLP) invites applications for a PhD studentship in legal philosophy, on the topic of legal normativity; deadline is May 20 2020.


The Force of Law: Anything Special?

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. It’s like a lot of things and in a lot of different ways. 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 project is to adjudicate this foundational dispute.

The first component of the project is to compile an overview of the various approaches to the issue of “legal normativity” in 20th century jurisprudence. 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 Senior Lecturer 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 3-year studentship covers:

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee covered (int'l applicants considered, but funds only cover UK/EU fees)
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21)
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a.
  • Personal Computer (provided by the department)

To apply:

  1. Firstly apply for the Law Phd Programme, by May 20 2020 []
  2. During your application, please mention your desire to apply to this studentship in order to be considered.
  3. When the system asks you to add your ‘Research Project’ please copy and paste the project description previously provided under the ‘About’ tab.

Please also 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.

Interviews will be held shortly after the application deadline.


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.

IELTS requirements: 7.0 or above (or equivalent) with 6.5 in each individual category

Any requests for further information can be directed to Dr. Hrafn Asgeirsson at and/or to Dr. Ken Ehrenberg at

PhD project supervisors

Dr Hrafn Asgeirsson
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Law
Dr Kenneth Ehrenberg
Reader in Public Law and Legal Theory