Guidelines and Clarifications about LL.D. Studies

Guidelines and Clarifications about LL.D. Studies at the Faculty of Law(For Applicants and Students) 

  1. These guidelines provide information and clarifications about the doctorate (LL.D.) studies at the Faculty of Law from the application stage through completion of studies. The guidelines complement the content of the official regulations (the Faculty Regulations for LL.D. studies [English summary also available) and the University Regulations for doctoral studies) and provide some additional information, including on less formal aspects. In the case of any contradiction, the official regulations naturally take precedence. 
  2. The Faculty does its best to pay individual attention to every student. We aim to provide a study experience that is not only enriching and fruitful at the highest academic standard, but is also pleasant and adapted as far as possible to each student’s individual needs. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact the Doctorate Studies Coordinator (Ms. Yafa Eliahu, 02-5883880 or or the Chairperson of the Graduate Studies Committee (Prof. Margit Cohn).
  3. Information for LL.D. students (also referred to in this document as “research students”) in the Faculty is distributed routinely through the mailing list intended for this purpose (law-d). We recommend that you contact the Coordinator and join this list as soon as you are accepted; you must do so by the time you begin your studies. 

    Study Tracks

  4. The Faculty offers three LL.D. tracks: 

    The ordinary track is intended for students who have completed an LL.M. degree with a thesis. Students admitted to this track are required to take the special Faculty courses for doctorate students, totaling 10 credit points, and to complete a further two credit points of their choice as agreed with the supervisor. This requirement is in keeping with the University-wide rule that doctorate students must take courses (“complementary studies,” as they are termed in the University Regulations) totaling 12 credit points. In addition, of course, they must write a doctorate dissertation. 

    The direct track enables particularly outstanding students to begin doctorate studies immediately after completing their LL.B. degree. As far as the Faculty is concerned, students in this track move directly on to their LL.D. studies. However, the University rules state that the initial registration is with LL.M. status. This track requires studies totaling 24 credit points, including the special courses for doctorate students (10 credit points) as well as various courses from the LL.M. syllabus (as detailed in section 4.2 of the Faculty Regulations). Students in this track must maintain high grades (an average of 88, and not less than 80 in any course). Students in this track do not have to write a master’s thesis. In order to be admitted, the Committee must be convinced, even in the absence of a thesis, that they have strong research capabilities (on the basis of papers they have written during their LL.B. studies or in other frameworks) enabling them to move on directly to writing a doctoral dissertation. 

    The research fulfillment (completion) track is intended for students who have completed an LL.M. degree but have not written a thesis. The course requirements for this track are the same as for the ordinary track, but students must maintain a grave average of 85, and not less than 80 in any course. In practice, most of the special doctorate courses are graded on a pass/fail basis without a specific grade. In addition, students in this track must write a paper analogous to a master’s thesis. This paper will be examined on the same basis as a master’s thesis, and students must receive a grade of at least 85 for the paper. The paper can subsequently be integrated in the doctorate dissertation. 

    Application and Admissions Process 

  5. The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University is one of the leading institutions in the world in its field. Accordingly, the standard of admissions for the LL.D. program is extremely high. The Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee accepts students at its discretion. As detailed in the regulations, the threshold requirements are 85 in LL.M. studies and 85 in the thesis. For the direct track, the threshold requirement is inclusion in the top 20 percent of the class in our Faculty. However, it is important to emphasize that these are only the threshold requirements: not all applicants who meet these standards are admitted for studies. The Committee admits only students who show a strong potential for excellence and are very likely to write a doctorate dissertation that will stand up to the high standards of the Hebrew University. 
  6. Applicants interested in the Faculty’s doctorate program must begin by finding a supervisor who is willing to supervise them (in the regulations, the supervisor is referred to as an “instructor.”) With very rare exceptions, applicants will not be admitted unless a supervisor has stated that he/she is willing to fill this function. First and foremost, you should find a supervisor who is active in the field you plan to research. Alternatively, you must be willing to adjust your field of interest to meet those of the supervisor. Faculty members may use various “tests” at their own discretion in order to decide whether they are interested in supervising you. They often ask applicants to present papers they have written, and they may ask to see a preliminary research proposal. However, there are no binding rules on this matter. 
  7. As a general rule, supervisors should hold the position of senior lecturer, at least. Retired Faculty members can in principle serve as supervisors, but it is highly desirable that they work together with an active Faculty member. In some cases, the Research Students Authority, which is responsible for approving supervisors, will insist on this. 
  8. Ideally, an application should not merely be accompanied by the formal agreement of a Faculty member to supervise the applicant, but by an enthusiastic recommendation to the Committee stating that the applicant is worthy of admission to the LL.D. program. 
  9. Securing the agreement of a supervisor does not guarantee admission. The next hurdle is acceptance by the Committee, and this is just as crucial. You must submit all the material to the Faculty’s Doctorate Studies Coordinator (as detailed in section 3 of the Faculty Regulations). According to the University’s procedures, students in the ordinary track should submit their application to the Research Students Authority. However, we recommend that you submit your application to the Coordinator, who will make sure to forward a copy to the Authority. 
  10. Alongside grade transcripts, references and previous research papers (a thesis and/or published articles, if any, a seminar paper otherwise), applicants must also submit a “Research Intentions” document. This document should take the form of a preliminary research proposal, sufficiently developed to show (even if concisely) research capability, an understanding of the relevant field, and familiarity (at least in a preliminary way) with the relevant research literature. The Faculty Regulations state that the document should be 1000 words long, but this is not a rigid limit. The intention was to stress that the document should be relatively short. However, it is important to understand that this document plays a very important role in the admissions procedure. If you need to go into greater detail in order to describe your proposed research, do so – the document must provide enough information to enable us to evaluate your application. The document should be drafted in coordination with the intended supervisor. It will be sent to another Faculty member for review before it is discussed by the Committee. 
  11. Applications may be submitted twice a year, by the deadlines published each year – usually in June for students beginning in the first semester and January for those beginning in the second semester. In exceptional cases, and when justified, the Committee also considers applications submitted outside the usual deadlines. 

    Research Fellows and Other Scholarships 

  12. One of the Faculty’s goals is to nurture the next generation of law scholars. Accordingly, we invest considerable resources in helping particularly outstanding research students who have the potential to find a place in the academic world. This is the purpose of the “research fellow” status. Every year, about three students are admitted to the status of research fellows. They receive a living stipend and a work space at the Faculty. In return, the research fellows undertake to devote all their time to research (they may not work outside the University); and to be active participants of the Faculty’s academic community (particularly by attending and contributing to Faculty seminars and the doctorate workshops, and also by joining a research forum relevant to their field). For full details, see the Research Fellows Constitution. 
  13. Active research students and applicants who have submitted their candidacy to the Faculty may apply for the status of research fellows. From the 2013/14 academic year, applications for research fellows will be submitted in January to join the program in October. 
  14. Additional scholarships are available from the University and from other sources. Information about scholarships is circulated from time to time through the mailing list. In many cases, the Faculty is asked to rank or recommend the various candidates. We do this after consulting with the supervisors, and on the basis of our impression of the student’s overall contribution and involvement as a research student at the Faculty. 

    Stage 1/Stage 2 (Writing the Thesis; Working with the Supervisor and the Committee) 

  15. According to the University’s rules, doctorate studies begin with Stage 1, when students prepare the research proposal that will form the basis of their thesis. The intention at this stage is that you will engage in broad-based and in-depth reading expanding your knowledge in fields relating to the subject of your dissertation. This should enable you to formulate (at least tentatively) the central argument around which you will structure your thesis. Thus Stage 1 is devoted to developing the Research Intentions document into a more founded and detailed research proposal. Of course, you will work closely with your supervisor throughout this process. You should also aim to complete your course requirements as quickly as possible, although you do not have to complete all your courses in order to move on to Stage 2. 
  16. While you are working on your research proposal, or after you have prepared a draft, your supervisor should arrange the appointment of an academic committee. The committee should include two members, at least one of whom is not from the Faculty. After the supervisor and the academic committee have approved the research proposal, and the Research Students Authority has granted its formal approval, the student moves on to Stage 2. 
  17. In the past, students often took a long time to move on to Stage 2. We now expect students to complete Stage 1 as quickly as possible. Our main screening process is applied in the admissions stage, and not in Stage 1. Accordingly, we assume that all the students who have been admitted are capable of writing a decent doctorate thesis. Before they begin to do so, the goal is to make sure that they have prepared a detailed research proposal that has been properly approved both by their supervisor and by the academic committee. 
  18. It is possible – and indeed desirable – to begin Stage 2 within a few months, or up to a year. According to the recently updated University Regulations, students must begin Stage 2 within 18 months. 
  19. Students in the direct track must, as a minimum, complete the LL.M. courses (as detailed in section 4.2 of the Faculty Regulations) before they can formally register as research students (in Stage 1). However, these students may (and should) begin to work on their research proposal while they complete their courses. This will enable them to move on to Stage 2 soon after registering as research students. 
  20. In Stage 2, you are expected to continue your research and to write your dissertation. You will also need to complete your course requirements, if you have not already done so. At least once a year, students must submit a progress report to the supervisor and the committee including the chapters of the thesis that have been written to date. We believe that students can and should complete their doctorate studies within a total period of three years (for students who devote most of their time to their studies). In any case, doctorate studies must be completed within no more than six years (see section 8.4 of the University Regulations). 
  21. The dissertation can be written in Hebrew or in English. If you are interested in an academic career, you should seriously consider writing your thesis in English. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this with your supervisor. 
  22. With the permission of the supervisor and the supervisory committee, a student may also submit an “articles doctorate”. An articles doctorate will usually include three or four articles (depending on their length, in any case at least three) that are sufficiently related to form a coherent sequence. An introduction and a conclusion should also be added.  For detailed instructions, see section 9.3 of the University Regulations. 
  23. Faculty members are required to follow the Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students. Please contact the chairperson of the Committee if you encounter any problem with your supervisor. You may also contact the chairperson of the Research Students Authority directly, if for any reason you prefer to do so. 

    The Doctorate Courses 

  24. A special curriculum of courses has been developed specifically for doctorate students in the Faculty. It includes two workshops overseen by the chairperson of the Advanced Studies Committee. In addition to students registered for these courses, all the doctorate students are also invited/expected to attend the workshops throughout their period of studies. The curriculum also includes three courses that seek to provide ancillary tools we consider vital for research students. 
  25. The Academic Reading “Masterclass” is a workshop that seeks to expose students to formative texts in legal research. In the workshop we discuss key ideas from diverse fields of law that could contribute (even if indirectly) to the students’ personal research. Another goal is to sharpen the students’ ability to engage in critical reading of academic texts. In each meeting, a different senior Faculty member is asked to lead a discussion based on a particularly important text from his/her research area. 
  26. In the Doctoral Students and Junior Researchers’ workshop, doctorate students (usually at an advanced stage) and post-doctorate fellows at the Faculty present their research. The idea is to give young scholars an opportunity to practice presenting their research and to receive feedback on their work; to expose the participants to the diverse research projects being pursued by young scholars at the Faculty; and to develop critical reading and discussion skills. The workshop also helps to promote the community of young scholars at the Faculty. 
  27. The English Academic Writing course seeks to develop and strengthen the students’ ability to write and present academic articles in English – a vital skill in the academic world. Two additional courses – Introduction to Research Methods and Introduction to Statistics – expose the research students to empirical research methods (quantitative and qualitative) from the social sciences. This basic knowledge is vital in order to enhance their understanding of articles from the social sciences and other sciences in the context of multidisciplinary research. This exposure also makes possible collaboration with researchers from other fields. Those interested in pursuing empirical legal research will have preliminary knowledge that can be developed to do so. 
  28. With the supervisor’s recommendation, students may submit a request to the chairperson of the Committee for exemption from the courses detailed in the previous section, if they have prior knowledge in these areas, or if their work requires them to specialize in other research methods (such as research methods from the humanities/philosophy courses, or language studies for students focusing on comparative law). As a general rule, students who receive an exemption must take other courses instead in order to meet the University’s requirement of 12 credit points. In exceptional cases, however, students can be exempted from this requirement, on the recommendation of their supervisor and academic committee. 
  29. Research students who participate in seminars are not required to write a seminar paper. However, they must meet the other conditions of the seminar (active participation). In other courses, including workshops, students must meet all the course requirements, including examinations / reaction papers. 
  30. Students in the direct track who are required to take LL.M. courses at the beginning of their studies (including a seminar in their field of specialization) must also meet all the conditions of the seminar, including writing a seminar paper. 

    Additional Academic Activities during the Period of Studies 

  31. The Faculty seminar, which is held each Wednesday afternoon, is an important focal point for academic activity in the Faculty. At the seminar, Faculty members and guests present their current work and discussions take place. Research students are invited and expected to actively participate. Details of the lectures, including copies of the articles to be presented at each week’s session, may be found on the seminar website (usually conducted in Hebrew). 
  32. Research activities in the Faculty in different areas are usually organized by forums. We strongly recommend that students contact the heads/coordinators of forums in areas in which they have an interest and join in the activities of the forum (research workshop, lectures and conferences). 
  33. Every year, dozens of guests come to the Faculty from overseas to attend conferences, teach intensive courses and engage in research. It is recommended to be aware of such visitors and to take the opportunity to meet with guests in relevant fields. The information is published on the Faculty website, on the Visiting Faculty page and on the Events Calendar (in the case of conferences). 
  34. The University encourages groups of doctorate students from different departments who are studying related subjects to form study groups. This takes place through the Chevruta project. The project enables doctorate students from different disciplines to hold occasional meetings in order to enrich their learning experience and contribute to their research. The University provides a modest scholarship for students who initiate or coordinate such groups. 
  35. Presenting an article (based on part of your dissertation) at conferences is a desirable and recommended experience. It gives you a chance to present your work to the relevant community, receive feedback and create useful academic connections. Naturally, you will not want to do this too often, since it requires a considerable investment of time. The Research Students Authority provides funding for doctorate students who travel to overseas conferences (not more than once during their LL.D. studies). Contact the Authority directly for details and to submit an application. In special cases, the Faculty also provides additional support; requests should be submitted to the chairperson of the Committee. 
  36. It is possible, and indeed recommended, to spend a period of time at a foreign research institution during the course of your doctorate studies. You must contact the host institution directly in order to arrange such a visit, and you must secure the necessary funding independently. Please coordinate such visits with your supervisor and update the chairperson of the Committee. In the case of research fellows, it is usually expected that they will remain at the Faculty for their entire period of research. In special cases, however, the Faculty may approve a period abroad, and even provide financial assistance to this end. Requests should be submitted to the chairperson of the Committee. 

    Graduating… and the Next Stages

  37. The website of the Research Students Authority provides detailed technical guidelines for the preparation of dissertations. The dissertation must be submitted to the Research Students Authority after it has been approved by the supervisor, and after the academic committee has submitted a report on the student’s progress. 
  38. The Authority consults with the supervisor regarding possible referees and appoints three referees: The supervisor and two additional referees, one of whom may be a member of the academic committee (i.e. there is one “external” referee). The preference is to appoint referees from outside the University. Each referee must submit a separate and independent report within two months (or three months during the summer recess). The reports are then forwarded to the plenum of the Research Students Authority, which decides whether to require corrections before the dissertation is approved. 
  39. The research students in the Faculty organize a forum for informal meetings on various subjects (the Research Students Forum). The Forum organizes meetings on professional matters relating to academic work: how and when to publish, how to apply for post-doc positions and academic positions, etc. If necessary, the chairperson of the Graduate Studies Committee will arrange additional meetings in order to ensure that information on these matters is available to all those interested.