Project code



School of Law

Start dates

February and October

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project, to commence in October or February.

The PhD will be based in the School of Law and will be supervised by Dr Henry Pearce and Dr Panos Kapotas.

The Faculty of Business and Law offers funding to attend conferences (currently £550), training (currently £450), and a work-based placement (currently a maximum of £3,000 tied up to the period of 12 weeks).

The work on this project could involve:

  • Analysing the extent to which the law can, or should, enable the practice of posthumous medical data donation (PMDD);
  • Analysing to what extent a bespoke regulatory framework for PMDD is necessary or desirable, and, if so, what such a system of regulation should comprise of and aim to achieve;
  • A comparative investigation of systems of law and regulation relating to PMDD in other jurisdictions;
  • Analysing the role of the individual in relation to PMDD, particularly the extent to which an individual’s wishes regarding the handling of their medical data post-mortem should be respected in light of other competing interests (e.g. of family members, public health);
  • Data gathering and qualitative analyses of individuals’ attitudes to PMDD and technological solutions to regulatory challenges; and
  • Investigating whether, and which, emerging technologies (e.g. personal information management systems, personal data stores, blockchain etc.) could be used to assist with PMDD, and how these could support, or be incorporated by, a PMDD regulatory framework.

Posthumous medical data donation (PMDD), the donation of an individual’s personal medical data post-mortem, is hugely beneficial for medical research, and is capable of contributing extensively to efforts find cures and treatments for some of the most severe and acute known medical conditions and diseases. It is, in other words, of critical importance for the enhancement of public health and wellbeing. However, despite the phenomenon of PMDD having been discussed for some time by humanities scholars, legal scholarship in this area to date is sparse. Though efforts to analyse PMDD from a legal perspective are beginning to emerge, the legal and regulatory dimensions of PMDD are hitherto relatively unexplored. At present, there appears to be no jurisdiction anywhere in the world with a system of law or regulation designed to support and enable this altruistic and valuable practice.

This project considers the extent to which the law, and other regulator modalities can, or should enable the practice of PMDD, and whether it is desirable, or even necessary, for a bespoke regulatory framework to be established for this purpose in the UK. Questions relating to what such a regulatory system should aim to achieve, how such a system might be constructed, what the role of the individual within such a system might be, and how emerging technologies could assist with the achievement of any identified regulatory objectives, will all be relevant to the project. The specific aim of the project is not necessarily to devise a complete or total legal solution for PMDD, but to identify and investigate key considerations and principles that will contribute to the development of law and policy in this important area, as well as policy in the fields of public healthcare, and law and emerging technologies more generally.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

We welcome applications from highly motivated prospective students with a background in law, regulation, information/data governance, and other relevant disciplines with an interest in the proposed research. A good level of knowledge and understanding of IT law and/or data protection law and policy would be particularly advantageous. Some knowledge of computer science may also be beneficial, but is not essential.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Henry Pearce ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Law PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.  

When applying please quote project code: LLAW4691020