Pre-doctoral Initiation to Research Program (PIR)

You are a Sciences Po Law School student, currently registered in the M1 or doing a gap year. You are interested in legal research. You are considering a career in academia and research, but you are not sure whether this is the right choice for you. Sciences Po Law School offers you the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Doctoral Initiation to Research Program (PIR).

What is it ?

This program intends to help you to produce a research thesis on a specific subject chosen by you. A professor who specializes in this particular subject will supervise you. During the second year of the master, you’ll have fewer courses to give you time to write your thesis. You will be invited to events organized by the Law School PhD Program (seminars, symposiums, the intensive doctoral week, etc.).

Your can build on your thesis if you decide to apply to a doctoral program (either at Sciences Po or elsewhere).

When and how do I apply?

To apply to participate in the PIR:

  • A resume
  • A cover letter explaining why you are applying, and which law field you want to explore in your thesis
  • Your grades in law courses you have already completed

You can apply to be part of the program, while in your M1 or during your gap year. To be accepted into the program, we look at your project, your average grades and the availability of the permanent faculty members or affiliate professors of the Law School. The Pre-doctoral Initiation to Research program is not compatible with the Clinic (except in exceptional cases in GGS, of a RIP closely linked to a Clinical project). The deadline to submit your application for the 2022-23 academic year is 17th June 2022.

You might be called in for an interview post your application and then notified by email regarding your admission in the program (which is not automatic) and notified of the name of your supervisor.

What are my obligations?

You will follow courses provided by the course list of your master's program. To not participate in the Moot, Jessup, Clinic (unless an exception is granted).

During your M2, you can reduce your course-load by two electives per semester to allow you to write your master's thesis. At the beginning of your M2 year you will have one reunion with all PIR students in September to organize you into writing groups paired with current PhD students at the Law School. These writing groups will meet over the M2 year for 4-5 meetings to help you with the writing of your thesis.

To Defend

Your master’s thesis should be between 80-120 pages and will be defended at the latest at the end of May of your M2 year, if you need the 10 credits of the PIR for your Sciences Po Diploma. You select a jury of 2-3 members from Sciences Po or outside, including your supervisor. You need to inform Lidiwine Kerbourc'h of your scheduled defense date and jury members at the latest 3 weeks before the scheduled date.

During the defense, you will present your work in 10-15 minutes followed by questions from the jury members. Following a successful defense, you will obtain a Certificate of Pre-Doctoral Preparation mentioning the curriculum that you followed.

Attention, your defense replaces your Grand Oral and therefore needs to take place before the 31st of May. 

The thesis must be sent three weeks before the date of the defence to the members of the jury in paper and PDF versions to Lidiwine Kerbourc'h.

If you abandon the program after the 30th of September of your M2 year, it will result in a failure appearing on your transcript. 


Lidiwine Kerbourc'hAdministrative officer

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