PhD in Socio–Legal Studies

The PhD in Socio-Legal Studies is the first doctoral program in Canada in interdisciplinary legal studies that is not based in a law school. While the academic foundation for our program rests on the contributions of scholars from a number of different disciplines, its scholarship can be distinguished from these disciplinary approaches by its greater attention to theory, methods, and substantive areas that focus on law and legal regulation as prime objects of investigation.

Research and teaching in the program are organized around three (3) core fields. They reflect the diverse teaching and research of Socio-Legal Studies, and the strong analytical and theoretical orientation of the program, while allowing for student research in a variety of substantive topic areas:

Socio-Legal Theory

Central to this field is the recognition that law and society are mutually constitutive, that is, law is not an external force to which society is subject but, rather, represents a dynamic set of codes, practices, categories and deliberations that both shape and are shaped by broader social, political, and economic logics, contexts and relations. Theoretical perspectives on the relationship between law and society are informed by sociology, history, philosophy, economics, anthropology, political science, and psychology.

Crime, Law and Governance

Analysis of contemporary modes of security, regulation, and governance, their intersections with various forms of law, and their role in shaping individual and collective practices, identities, and fortunes through designations of illegality, criminality, and disorder. Included within this field is a wide range of substantive areas including, but not limited to: transnational policing; financial crime; immigration and borders; and police, courts and corrections.

Comparative and Historical Perspectives in Law

Studies of the variations of law across time, place and culture. Included are various approaches to the social history of law and legal regulation, as well as the analysis of indigenous forms of law, human rights regimes, and both national and transnational forms of regulation and policing.

Applying to the PhD Program in Socio–Legal Studies

Deadline: January 15th for the following Fall term admission
PhD candidates must have a Master’s degree with minimum B+ average from a recognized university, with a minimum B+ average, or the equivalent, in a relevant social science or humanities program (e.g. Sociology; Criminology; Law and Society; Political Science; Women’s Studies; History; Philosophy).

In addition, all applicants must:

  1. Submit a recent research paper or report to indicate ability in writing and research (25 pages or 5,000 words approximately).
  2. Submit a statement of interest providing evidence of commitment to advanced work in socio-legal studies. The statement should include a discussion of the applicant’s background, interests, skills, career goals, as well as a proposed program of study (500 words approximately).
  3. Submit three letters of reference. Process is now done online.
  4. Submit a Supplementary Information Form online.
  5. For students whose first language is not English, have a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper based) or 250 (computer based); or YELT score 1.

Applicants will be assessed on the basis of academic achievement and potential and/or demonstrated capacity for advanced work in an applied area. The submitted research paper or reports and the statement of interest will provide a basis for evaluating that potential.

*Students enrolled in the York Socio–Legal Studies Master’s program wishing to apply to the doctoral program must do so through the admissions office. Students must have completed the MA before entering the PhD program.

All incoming MA and PhD students will be assigned (based on common research interests) a faculty advisor who will provide advice on program requirements (including course selection) and, most importantly, will assist students in selecting permanent supervisors and supervisory committees. This formal advisory function is intended to help ensure a smooth transition from the initial point of entry into the program to the establishment of a full supervisory committee.