Empirical Studies in Law: ESRC Wales DTP PhD Collaborative Studentship at Swansea University

  • Phd
  • Full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 6 June 2021
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Empirical Studies in Law: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Collaborative Studentship: CymruLex- Making Statute Law Applicable to Wales More Accessible Online
Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2021. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Empirical studies in law pathway of the ESRC Wales DTP:
‘CymruLex- Making Statute Law Applicable to Wales More Accessible Online’ in collaboration with the Welsh Government Office of the Legislative Counsel (OLC)
Context: The Welsh Government has administrative and legislative competence over a range of areas. It recognises that to manually classify, consolidate, and codify existing law is resource-intensive. Furthermore, the law must be accessible and communicated over the Internet.
Rationale: In order to reduce the resource requirements and communicate the law, automation and web-based communication tools must be developed.
  • Analyse Welsh Law with Social Science and Computational methods;
  • Provide computational tools to identify portions of Welsh Law;
  • Develop a framework to make analyses and annotations machine-readable;
  • Develop a query platform to retrieve passages.

Research questions:
  • What are the requirements in terms of what and how Welsh statute law should be accessed?;
  • What are the textual indicators that distinguish Welsh Law?;
  • What role does inference play in distinguishing Welsh Law?;
  • What are the limitations on the identification of Welsh Statute Law?;
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the computational approaches?;
  • How do users want to query Welsh Statute Law, and what results do they want to retrieve?

Scope: To be feasible, the source statutes will be restricted to an area, e.g. transportation, and/or time. These restrictions can be relaxed in accordance with the availability of resources.
Research methods and activities that the student will undertake:
  • Discuss legal analysis of statutes with legal counsel;
  • Identify the texts and gain familiarity with the law;
  • Develop an analysis of annotations for textual portions of the statutes;
  • Represent the annotations in a machine-readable format;
  • Develop an annotation manual;
  • Carry out and evaluate annotation studies;
  • Apply Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques;
  • Develop and populate a knowledge graph;
  • Create a web interface through which to query and retrieve textual portions;
  • Evaluate the web interface;
  • Conduct machine learning experiments to assess accelerated annotation of larger textual corpora.

Design: The design uses research methods from Social Science (consultations, textual analysis and annotation) and Computer Science (software engineering cycle, knowledge representation and reasoning, machine learning, web engineering).
  • Social justice and change: the project contributes to the goals of the Legislation (Wales) Act 2019 to make the law clearer and more accessible in order to promote fairness and legal transparency across the population. It potentially contributes to the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015), e.g. prosperity and equality, as law and access to it underpins them;
  • Technical: interpretive guidance manuals, revised machine-readable annotation frameworks, machine-readable datasets, results of inter-annotator studies, a legal knowledge graph and software for accessing the data on the Internet.

We welcome applications for both full- and part-time study. Studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full-time year of a research training master’s degree followed by three years of full-time doctoral study or the part-time equivalent) or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.
Begin your postgraduate research journey at Swansea University: a top 30 research university (REF 2014) producing internationally recognised research that makes a real difference to society. We provide a welcoming environment for PhD researchers with specialist training, advice and development opportunities. As an ESRC Wales DTP researcher, you will also benefit from cohort-based networking events and dedicated ESRC Wales DTP student representatives at each campus.
This studentship is a ‘collaborative’ award. Applicants should carefully consider the working title and description of the project and may wish to contact the named supervisor and / or the Swansea pathway contact for a discussion prior to applying. They are:


A fully-funded Wales DTP studentship is available to both UK and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements. For further details, see the UKRI web site.
Academic eligibility:
ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a first or an upper second class bachelor’s degree; applications from those who hold a relevant research training master’s degree (or have an equivalent background in research training) will also be considered for a ‘+3’ award.
If applicable, a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any individual component (or Swansea University recognised equivalent) is required. For more details, please read the University’s English Language entry policy.
Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job or a permanent part-time job during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.


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The studentship provides the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,285 per annum for 2020/21 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), involving the completion of a research training master’s degree in the first year, followed by 3 years’ research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years of PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent).


Please visit our website for more information.
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