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PhD Program Curriculum

Open to students holding a Master 2 degree only

The three years of PhD (D1, D2 and D3) are dedicated to the development, writing and presentation of a PhD thesis in law. Doctoral candidates participate in an active and international scientific community and to the pedagogical activities that prepare them for an academic career.

The first year allows the development of the thesis, the second, which often takes place entirely abroad, gives the student the opportunity to start writing it, and the third to complete it: through two academic defenses (private and public).

Doctoral program academics

Year D1

The aim of the first year of the PhD is for the doctoral candidates to develop a final research project and an advanced thesis’ plan. Each doctoral candidate is accompanied by a major supervisor and one or two minor supervisors. Each one of his/her supervisors receives him/her at least 4 times a year, to suggest and review his/her reading list, and eventually to give him/her some various tasks to do (reading reviews, syntheses). During the year, doctoral candidates follow the mandatory methodology course, Law and Methods. The academic year ends with the writing of an approximately ten pages-long paper describing the doctoral project  (subject, state of advancement, plan draft, bibliography etc.), which will be presented during the D1 Colloquium and then discussed during an oral examination/presentation of the research in front of a panel of at least 2 persons (the different supervisors and possibly external readers).

This paper of approximately 10 pages will be sent a two weeks before the D1 Colloquium to the SPLS community (permanent faculty, doctoral candidates, visiting doctoral candidates, and PIR students). After the colloquium, a similar, or modified, project description will be sent a few weeks earlier to the members of the oral examination panel and to the administration of the doctoral program. During this oral presentation, the panel will examine the student’s knowledge of his/her field of research and literature, the maturity of the project and eventually the thesis’ plan. At the end of this oral, the jury will decide the admission of the student into the second year of the program (D2) and will accompany its decision by a report sent to the program’s administration. 

Year D2

The second year typically takes place in one of the Doctoral program’s partner universities, but in some cases it can take place at the Law School of Sciences Po. Under the supervision of a professor from the host university and in coordination with the main supervisor, the doctoral candidate should write at least one chapter of his/her thesis. This chapter will be presented by the student in first semester of the next year (D3) during the D3 Colloquium. The chapter should be sent a few weeks in advance of the set date of the D3 Colloquium to all the supervisors and the program’s administration, to be shared with the SPLS community. At the end of the D2, a comité de suivi should be constituted as panel including the minor supervior(s) and other experts in the fields of study - NOTE: the main supervisor does not participate in this committee.

The committee receives by early May of the D2 a note describing the doctoral project, its advancement (e.g. committed field works), the outline of the chapters and a more elaborate description than provided in the D1 Colloquium paper. The doctoral candidate present his/her submitted note and general project in front of this comité de suivi that is scheduled to meet during the month of May. Following the meeting of the committee with the doctoral candidates, the committee members submit a reports to the administration of the doctoral program. 

Year D3

The aim of this third year is to further advance in writing the dissertation to ultimately complete and defend it. During the first semester of the D3, doctoral candidates present one completed chapter of their dissertation in a D3 Colloquium to the SPLS community. This chapter they send along an outline and a shorter abstract to the administration of the program to be distributed at least two weeks before the set date of the D3 Colloquium. The year is then further spent to complete the dissertation. Once the dissertation is completed, the doctoral candidates prepare a private defense to be followed by a public defense. 

Pedagogical skills and participation of the students in the academic community of Sciences Po

Sciences Po Law School is a small, dynamic and international scientific community. The PhD students who have offices within the university can very easily engage with faculty members and visiting professors. They are encouraged to participate in the scientific activities of the School (seminars, symposiums, conferences) and can contribute to their design and organization, as long as their participation enriches their research.

  • The Doctoral candidates teach one or two courses per year, to gain pedagogical experience. These activities remain limited in order to avoid affecting their research
  • The Doctoral candidates have access to courses and scientific activities offered by other schools and departments of Sciences Po

Students who successfully defend their thesis are awarded the Sciences Po PhD in Law degree by Sciences Po School of Research. This national degree confers the rank of Doctor in Law.