Edinburgh Legal Education Trust Scholarship for LLM by Research-2023

This scholarship is available for postgraduate research in Scots private law at the University of Edinburgh for a period of one year leading to the degree of LLM by Research (i.e. by a thesis of up to 30,000 words). The scholarship is offered by the Edinburgh Legal Education Trust, which was formed in 1996 for the advancement of legal education. The Trustees wish to award a scholarship for study beginning in September 2023.

Choice of topic

Applicants are free, indeed expected, to choose their own topic. The emphasis, however, should be on legal doctrine rather than on, for example, legal theory or socio-legal issues. Historical or comparative perspectives are welcome. A list of possible topics is given in the Appendix below but there are many others. Professor Kenneth Reid (Kenneth.Reid@ed.ac.uk) or Professor Andrew Steven (Andrew.Steven@ed.ac.uk), the Scholarship Administrators, would be happy to give informal advice. Examples of the type of work that the Trustees are willing to fund may be found in nine PhD theses now published by the Trust as books:

  • Ross Gilbert Anderson, Assignation (2008)
  • Andrew J M Steven, Pledge and Lien (2008)
  • Craig Anderson, Possession of Corporeal Moveables (2015)
  • Jill Robbie, Private Water Rights (2015)
  • Daniel J Carr, Ideas of Equity (2016)
  • Chathuni Jayathilaka, Sale and the Implied Warranty of Soundness (2019)
  • Alasdair Peterson, Prescriptive Servitudes (2020)
  • Alisdair D J MacPherson, The Floating Charge (2020)
  • John MacLeod, Fraud and Voidable Transfer (2020)
  • Andrew Sweeney, The Landlord’s Hypothec (2021)

The first six of these are available to download free of charge from the Edinburgh Law Seminars website.

Visit Edinburgh Law Seminars website

Details of current PhD students at Edinburgh, and their topics, can be found on our website.

View current research students’ PhD topics


The scholarship is open to anyone who, by the start of the LLM programme, holds an honours degree in law, or an ordinary degree in law plus an honours degree in a different discipline, and who is accepted by the University of Edinburgh for the degree of LLM by Research. The scholarship is not available for the LLM in Legal Research or the LLM in History and Philosophy of Law.


The scholarship will cover tuition fees (at the home level) and provide a stipend of £10,926. In addition, a limited amount of assistance may be given by the Trust in respect of research expenses, but this will not normally exceed £400 in a year.

Fees will be paid by the Trust directly to the University of Edinburgh. The maintenance allowance will be paid in four equal instalments on 15 September, 15 December, 15 March and 15 June.

Scholars past and present

Two Scholars are currently funded for PhD study by the Edinburgh Legal Education Trust: Colin Lilburn (The duties of trustees in Scots law) and Susanna Macdonald-Mulvihill (The law of donation). There have been fourteen previous such Scholars all of whom have completed their PhDs: Ross Gilbert Anderson (Assignation); Dot Reid (Fraud in Scots private law); Peter Webster (Leasehold conditions); Adelyn Wilson (Viscount Stair’s sources and citations in a humanist and natural law context); Johnnie MacLeod (Voidable title: Scots law in a European context); Jill Robbie (Water law in Scotland); Bonnie Holligan (Protection of ownership in Scots law); Stephen Bogle (The emergence of the will theory in Scots contract law); Alasdair Peterson (Prescriptive acquisition of servitudes); Alisdair MacPherson (The attachment and ranking of the floating charge in Scots law); Lorna MacFarlane (An analysis of the jus quaesitum tertio doctrine); Andrew Sweeney (The Landlord’s Hypothec); Shona Warwick (The nature of a lease); and Patrick Follan (The beneficiary’s right in a Scottish trust). Today Dr Anderson is a practising advocate, Dr Webster is a practising barrister, Dr MacFarlane works for a leading Scottish law firm, Drs Sweeney and Follan are trainee solicitors, and Dr Warwick is completing the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice; all of the others hold lecturing positions at UK universities.

Part-time employment

Scholars are expected to devote their whole time to the study of their subject. Part-time teaching and other work relevant to the Scholar’s research may be undertaken but must not exceed three hours per week. For any other paid employment, the permission of the Trustees is required.

Scholars must inform the Scholarship Administrator of any other awards which they receive during the year. The Trustees reserve the right to review the level of the scholarship in the light of the availability of other funding.

Residence requirement

It is a condition of the scholarship that Scholars are in residence in Edinburgh, or sufficiently near Edinburgh to come in regularly to the Edinburgh Law School.

Application Process

Candidates must first apply for admission to the Law LLM by Research Programme.

Find out how to apply

Once you have applied for admission to the Programme, please complete the Edinburgh Legal Education Trust Scholarship Application Form and send it to phd.law@ed.ac.uk by the closing date of 8 May 2023.

Download the Edinburgh Law School Postgraduate Scholarship Application Form [Word doc]

Applicants will be notified of the decision in June 2023. The Trustees reserve full discretion to offer, or not to offer, a scholarship.

Progression to the PhD

A student who successfully completes the LLM may wish to consider further study for the degree of PhD. The Edinburgh Legal Trust also offers a scholarship for PhD study in Scots private law. It is often possible to treat the LLM as the first year of study for a PhD by switching to the PhD degree during the year spent on the LLM.

APPENDIX: Possible subjects for LLM and PhD study in private law

The following are merely suggestions. Obviously, there are many other subjects which could be fruitfully pursued.

  • Delict: eg public authority liability; defamation; intentional delicts; privacy; causation
  • Trusts: eg constitution and nature; administration; trusts arising by operation of law, especially constructive trusts; history
  • Succession: eg legacies; special destinations; legal rights; executors and administration of the estate.
  • Leases: eg, constitution, transfer and extinction; rights and duties of the parties; commercial leases
  • Aspects of the law of rights in security
  • Good faith
  • Neighbour law: eg trespass; encroachment; nuisance; aemulatio vicini
  • Public rights over water • Public rights of way
  • Negative prescription
  • Law of persons and personality
  • Family law
  • Unincorporated associations
  • Liferents
  • The influence of Roman law or English law on Scots private law
  • One or more institutional writers
  • Minerals (perhaps extending to look at separate tenements generally)
  • Sale
  • Unjustified enrichment
  • Negotiorum gestio
  • Contract: eg formation; defects of consent; implied terms; jus quaesitum tertio; breach
  • Set-off
  • Remedies

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