The international family law rules applicable in Scotland are European in character. Since 1968 a body of harmonised European rules of jurisdiction (the courts of which country/countries are competent to hear a case), applicable law (the system of law to be applied by the court to determine the rights of the parties in cases involving foreign elements), and recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments (the extent to which recognition is given to decisions of foreign courts, and the manner of enforcing such judgments) has operated in Scotland. Over decades, Scotland (as part of the UK) has engaged with the harmonisation of laws agenda, towards the establishment and consolidation of a European judicial area.

More European citizens than ever before live, work or study in an EU State other than that of their nationality. Individuals and families are increasingly mobile, and growing numbers of couples and families living in Scotland are international, comprising individuals of different nationalities, or originating from different countries. The consequences of relationship breakdown are particularly difficult for such families, with estranged parties often having conflicting personal, financial and legal interests.

Clear, workable rules of jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are essential in the context of cross-border divorce, child contact/access, and family maintenance claims. The European judicial cooperation agenda has sought to protect children and families where one or more individuals move(s) from one Member State to another. European law currently forms the basis of the rules which operate in Scotland to regulate these matters, and affords protection of children and adults in cases of family breakdown, e.g., in accessing a divorce court and ensuring divorces are recognised across borders; in securing rights of residence and contact in respect of children; and concerning the enforcement abroad of family maintenance obligations. The European framework protects children’s rights to be heard, and the rights of other family members.

Brexit will have the effect that the current scheme of rules of jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in child and family law will cease to apply in Scotland. Family law judgments issued in Scottish courts no longer will be given effect in other EU countries under the European scheme. The dismantling of the European scheme in Scotland will adversely affect international families living in Scotland who are caught up in family breakdown.

The Ph.D. will review the historical, political and sociological background to the Europeanisation of international family law, and will assess the impact of that process on international families living in Scotland. It will investigate the consequences of Brexit on cross-border child and family law in Scotland, and the implications for children and families living in Scotland. It will explore potential avenues for ensuring that Scots law continues to protect children and families in the cross-border setting.


Home/EU and International applicants are eligible to apply.

A First or Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) degree in Law or a Master's qualification in Law or equivalent is required. However, applications will be considered from candidates in the final year of their Law degree, subject to the provision of a statement from at least one referee regarding the applicant’s projected final Honours degree classification.

Preference will be accorded to applicants who demonstrate proficiency in international private law (private international law/conflict of laws) and/or international family law.

The Award

The scholarship is open to +3 (3 years PhD only) commencing in October 2018 and will provide:

  • a stipend at the RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £14,777 Full-Time)
  • 100% tuition fee waiver
  • access to the Research Training Support Grant

How to Apply

All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send to with the subject line ‘CoSS Scholarship - The Europeanisation of International Private Law application' by 13 May 2018.

1. Academic Transcript(s) and Degree Certificate(s)

Final or current degree transcripts including grades and degree certificates (and official translations, if needed) - scanned copy in colour of the original documents.

2. References

Two references on headed paper (academic and/or professional).

At least one reference must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee.

If your referees would prefer to provide confidential references direct to the University then we can also accept the reference by email, from the referee's official university or business email account to clearly labelling the reference e.g. “<applicant name> CoSS Scholarship Reference”.

3. Copy of CV
4. Applicant Statement

A 1-2 page document outlining your skills and experience and your proposed contribution to the research project. 

Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.

Selection Process

Applications will be assessed by the Project Team and shortlisted applicants may be invited to an interview.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the College of Social Sciences. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.