Research Degrees—PhD and Master of Laws

Our position in the heart of the legal decision-making district of Wellington means we offer students, staff and visitors a unique university experience.

With the courts and parliament as our close neighbours, we are at the centre of debate, analysis and dialogue about law and legal policy issues in New Zealand.

A globally-ranked capital city university

View of Wellington harbour

Victoria University of Wellington’s graduate-level law students benefit from conducting their studies in a law school that is located amongst other globally ranked faculties and schools. Located in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington has a tradition of fostering strong global links in teaching and research and programmes of national significance and international quality.

Prospective students

For those seeking to pursue higher degrees by research, a PhD or Master of Laws (which can be completed either by course work or by thesis, or by a combination of a dissertation and course work), could be for you.

Before embarking on further study toward a higher-level research degree, it is important to consider the “fit” between the proposed project and the particular law school.

For prospective candidates seeking admission at the Victoria University of Wellington, two factors may be especially influential:

  • the areas of expertise of the University’s full-time law faculty, and
  • the New Zealand legal environment.

Research quality

As New Zealand’s top ranked university for research quality Victoria University of Wellington has a great reputation for academic excellence—excellence that is underpinned by the quality of our learning environment and innovative teaching.

The excellence of the University’s legal academics was confirmed in a report released by the Tertiary Education Commission, which ranked the University number one in New Zealand for research quality. The report shows the University has the highest-rated Law faculty for research in the country and establishes its research pre-eminence in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s leading legal minds

The Victoria University of Wellington Law School is home to a diverse and expert group of distinguished Faculty. Their work is published in the top international and domestic law reviews and they are deeply involved in law reform initiatives and collaborate internationally in key research consortia.

Our conferences and lectures are attended by judges, politicians, practitioners and New Zealand and international academics. It is a rich brew of talent and experience that offers a priceless experience—to interact, debate and interact and exchange ideas with the very best the legal community has to offer.

The New Zealand legal environment

Law school, Victoria University of Wellington

Some of the key features of the New Zealand legal environment include the unique relationship between the indigenous peoples and the Crown, in the context of a Westminster-style democracy, the mixed member proportional representation system of elections, its unicameral Parliament and the role of New Zealand’s parliamentary Bill of Rights.

The small size of New Zealand economy presents unique challenges and opportunities, and the location of the country foregrounds the importance of international trade and international commerce.

Leading research

Victoria University of Wellington’s law faculty combine scholarly activities with the practice of law—as legal advisors, counsel and arbitrators. Read recent profiles, highlighting the range of legal research projects of the University’s law faculty.

Legal community and events

The Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law is also committed to outreach to the local legal community, and hosts a wide array of seminars, conferences and colloquia—creating an intense and vibrant intellectual life for our faculty and students.

Expert librarians

Research students are supported by an excellent law library that is part of the wider Victoria University of Wellington library system. Our expert subject librarians work closely with our research students to develop research strategies and with instruction on legal research methodology.

Faculty journals

The Faculty’s own research publication, the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, offers an opportunity for postgraduate students to have their work published, while the New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law offers world-class writing on those key areas of speciality.

Research projects and profiles

Find out more about the research projects and award winning scholarships that our faculty staff and students have been working on. View our current postgraduate student profiles.

Human Ethics guidelines

If your research involves human subjects or human tissue or affects people’s privacy, rights and freedoms, it is subject to Human Ethics Committee Guidelines.