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3rd Cycle Programme in Law, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 48 months
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Studying Law at NOVA School of Law is learning to change the world. It is accepting the challenge of taking an active role to make a difference in society and to those around us. For NOVA School of Law, teaching is preparing agents of change to be active, global, conscientious and humanistic lawyers. In today's world it is no longer enough to be competent and able to foresee, understand and mediate interests and disputes. It is crucial to have the ability to consider what is best for an ideal future for partners, clients, and for citizens.

At NOVA School of Law we prepare those of you who want not only to be competent lawyers, but who want to stand out in the crowd and to make a difference, someone who believes that each of us has the potential to promote a fairer society, and  who does not give up on their responsibility to this end.

We do not regard our students as empty vessels, but rather, we enhance their individual qualities, open doors and broaden their horizons. Through constant, tireless and  individual effort, everyone - professors, staff and students alike - questions what is within and beyond. We look for new realities, we go beyond walls and boundaries.

This is the commitment of NOVA, which evolves and adapts in response to the changes and demands of society, markets and consequent student needs.

The NOVA School of Law’s 3rd Cycle Programme in Law is a four-year programme leading to a PhD degree in law. The Programme comprises a taught component (over three semesters) where advanced legal studies are carried out with an interdisciplinary focus. This period also provides training in research methodologies and other complementary skills. Towards the end of the taught component of the Programme, candidates must prepare and publicly defend their thesis project. During the remaining part of the Programme (comprising a further five semesters), candidates must complete their research under the guidance of their supervisor, culminating in the preparation and defence of their doctoral thesis. The Programme is internationally oriented. Its main language of instruction is English.

PhD Programme

FCT, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (the national funding agency for science, research and technology) awarded the NOVA School of Law Third Cycle Programme the prestigious FCT PhD programme status. It is thus far the only public higher education institution to have been bestowed with this distinction in the field of legal studies. FCT’s generous funding of this Programme has allowed NOVA School of Law to award over 50 research grants to some of its most talented doctoral students. 

Year upon year, we attract a talented, multicultural cohort of candidates from all corners of the world. This funding also allows a good portion of our annual student intake to carry out their research full-time. This has proved to be an essential element in the creation of a vibrant and close-knit community of doctoral students, who are active in many of NOVA School of Law’s research initiatives.

The Programme admits 20 doctoral candidates each academic year. Numbers are low and therefore admission into the Programme is highly competitive, as NOVA School of Law seeks to ensure that every doctoral candidate is afforded sufficient individualised attention and supervision.


In the process, the 3rd Cycle Programme in Law at Universidade Nova de Lisboa prepares the next generation of highly-qualified legal professionals to enter the market ready to face the challenges of our time and to pursue a career in academia. 

As well as fostering knowledge creation across all legal disciplines, the programme encourages an interdisciplinary and international approach to legal studies. 

It familiarises candidates with new technologies and research techniques, promotes team-based research and collaboration in all fields of the law, and creates networking opportunities with other national and international academic institutions. 


The NOVA’S  Doctoral School is also available to our doctoral candidates. Aimed at the university’s PhD students and their supervisors, its purposes are: 

  •  Contribute to the excellence of doctoral training at NOVA; 
  •  Provide cross-disciplinary and complementary training to PhD candidates and their supervisors; 
  •  Promote interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research; - Share best practices in doctoral programmes; 
  •  Foster cross-institutional cooperation, at both the national and international level; 
  •  Encourage research collaboration between students and professors at NOVA 

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 48 months
  • Credits
    240 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

1st Semester 

  • Law and Society (Mandatory)
  • Methodologies of Legal Analysis (Mandatory)
  • Procedural Law (Elective)
  • Criminal Law (Elective)
  • International Law (Elective)
  • European Law (Elective)
  • Public Law (Elective)
  • Private Law (Elective)

2nd Semester

  • Methodology of Legal Research (Mandatory)
  • Scientific Publishing (Mandatory)
  • SPEED Presentation (Mandatory)

3rd Semester

  • Discussion of the Thesis Project (Mandatory)
  • Attendance of any NOVA Doctoral School courses (Elective)


  • Mariana França Gouveia: Professor of Civil Procedure, Arbitration and Mediation and Scientific Coordinator. Dean of NOVA School of Law and Director of the NOVA Dispute Resolution Forum. 
  • Margarida Lima Rego: Associate Professor, Scientific Coordinator and Vice-Dean at NOVA School of Law. Of Counsel to Morais Leitão, where she headed the insurance, reinsurance and pension funds cross-practice team. 

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

General Requirements

  • A master’s degree or equivalent;

  • Candidates with especially relevant academic, research or professional experience adjudged by the Scientific Council to be equivalent in merit to a master’s degree. 

Candidates shall be selected on the basis of their merit, having regard to the following parameters and respective weight: 

• Academic curriculum vitae (50%); 

• Scientific curriculum vitae (publications, other scientific output indicators and proven research experience and proven research experience) (20%);

• Relevant professional curriculum vitae (15%);

• Motivation letter/ Work plan to be developed (15%).

Tuition Fee

  • International

    2400 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 9600 EUR for the full programme and a duration of 48 months.
  • EU/EEA

    2400 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 9600 EUR for the full programme and a duration of 48 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.
  • 1st and 2nd semesters 1,800€ per semester

  • 3rd semester and subsequent semesters 1,000€ per semester

Living costs for Lisbon

  • 630 - 1130 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Our Law School’s 3rd Study Cycle was awarded the status of FCT PhD Programme by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (“FCT”).

We will have five PhD Scholarships designed for all students already admitted to and enrolled in this Law School’s PhD Programme in any edition of NOVA School of Law’s PhD Programme in Law or students to admit for the 2020/2021 edition of our Programme.

For more information please visit the programme website! 

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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