Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

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New UCalgary PhD in Law program to debut Sept. 2021

By Nikayla Goddard, January 4 2020—

After a rigorous application process, the University of Calgary has been approved to start accepting applications for a new PhD program in Law for Sept. 2021. 

Dr. Lyndsay Campbell is the Associate Dean and Graduate Program Director, cross-appointed between the Faculty of Law and the Department of History and also teaches in the Law and Society program. She explained some of the finer details of how the university ‘gets’ a PhD program and what the PhD in Law program will look like. 

Previous to having an official PhD in Law program, the Faculty of Law had a “special case PhD program” up until around five years ago, Campbell says, where a student excelling in the Masters of Laws (LLM) program could transfer into a PhD on a case by case basis. A few people have graduated this way, but this special case program was done away with, creating the need for an official PhD in Law program to be implemented. For a number of years the idea was talked about, but it was only recently that action was taken. 

“My colleague and predecessor, Greg Hagen, started putting together the proposal I think it was in the 2018-19 school year,” Campbell explains, “and then when I took over July 1st 2019, I started taking this draft that he had and pushing it through the various levels of approval.”

The process begins, Campbell says, by assessing demand for the program, as well as what the program might offer and teach to those taking it in order to formulate a document that the province will look at before approving the program. 

“The program goes through many layers of consultation to draft a document,” she says, including market research, and consulting with interested parties such as the Taylor Institute, the U of C’s Registrar, financial representatives and others in order to work out what the proposal looks like. From there, it gets passed through the Faculty of Law and then Graduate Studies. There are then a few levels of university authority to sort through before it goes to Edmonton. The university received official approval in November. 

Within the details of the PhD program outlined in the program overview, it describes the PhD in Law program  “for students passionate about research and writing in a focused area of law, and who may be interested in an academic or research career.” The program consists of two mandatory courses — graduate seminar in legal research and methodology and graduate seminar in legal theory and independent, supervised research — in addition to a thesis/dissertation proposal, written field of study examinations, an oral candidacy examination and completing the approximately 300 page original thesis/dissertation. The program has a max completion of six years, with an expected completion of four years. 

The University of Calgary’s LLM program was included in the LLM Guide‘s top 10 energy law programs worldwide (2020). 

“We are really excited about having a PhD program,” she added. “We have one of the world’s strongest programs and faculties in environmental and energy law […] Not to have had a PhD program? It’s something we’ve been missing.”

Applications for the PhD in Law program are due Jan. 15, 2021. More details about the PhD program and the Faculty of Law can be found online in the program overview.


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