The Doctoral Programme in Sociology of the State, Law, and Justice is based on CES’ four decades of international research in the area of sociology of law and politics. Epistemological, theoretical and thematic diversity are valued in a programme that is at once plural, coherent, and substantially committed to the development of critical-thinking skills. The programme addresses the challenges posed by interdisciplinarity and the decolonisation of studies of the state, law and justice. Students will study the main debates and theories while becoming familiar with epistemological, theoretical and methodological tools that will enable them to develop context-sensitive, high-quality and innovative research in order to understand complex socio-legal phenomena across the world’s different societies and in global relations.

The theories of law and justice, the studies about the state, democracy and legal pluralism, and the theories of access to law and justice will be viewed through a combination of classical and contemporary western readings and equally relevant literature from other quarters. Power and inequalities will be addressed along three main structural axes – patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism –, reflected in three curricular units – “Crime and gender violence”, “Modernity, colonialism and racial violence”, and “Social rights, financialisation and inequalities”. In each of these, a plurality of theories, critical perspectives and proposals for an alternative construction will be presented and discussed, allowing students to learn hegemonic theories as well as become acquainted with literature developed in the margins of, or even outside, the academy. This will ensure that students have contact with a wide variety of authors, theories and methodologies while being equipped with critical-thinking tools that will enable them to identify the absences, or invisibilities, produced by these theories. A short-term internship in the second year will constitute a brief experience of mobility. Through this internship, this programme will ensure that students have contact with another institution close to their research interests.

Taught in English and taking a North-South, South-North, South-South and East-West analytical approach, the programme aims to attract candidates from all over the world. Though the seminars will be taught exclusively in English, assessment can be conducted in English, Portuguese or Spanish, in order to permit the inclusion of candidates from different geographical backgrounds and academic paths. The heterogeneous group of students who are expected to take the programme will be challenged to produce non-Eurocentric critical work and engage in intercultural debates that reflect the world’s exuberant diversity.



1. to provide students with an innovative curriculum in the field of sociology of the state, law and justice that enables them to analyse law and its rationalities as a fact, a social phenomenon and a social science;

2. to develop interdisciplinary academic excellence in the field of sociology of the state, law and justice;

3. to promote the use of innovative research methodologies and critical knowledge leading to the development and democratisation of societies.


1. substantial knowledge of sociological, political and legal theories; of legal and social institutions and practices; and of the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of law and justice in the context of the interaction with the State and society;

2. the capacity to analyse different contexts and their inherent diversity, notably in Europe, Africa, Latin-America and Asia;

3. skills to understand and participate in public debates involving the theories and practices of law(s) and justice(s);

4. mastery of the interdisciplinary research techniques and methods in the field of the state, law and justice in society in particular, and the human and social sciences in general;

5. the ability to train people in how to conduct research in sociology of the state, law and justice, including research-action projects.

The doctoral program and CES provide and stimulate innovative, critical, and interdisciplinary research, promoting deep reflection on the complex and multifaceted realities of systems of power and oppression, and inspiring engagement in the production of transformative knowledge.

Laís Rodrigues, all but dissertation (Brazil)

"The PhD Programme in Sociology of the State, Law and Justice at CES and FEUC is the best suitable for those who wish to get a deep critical knowledge about key legal, political, economic and social issues concerning interdisciplinary topics like Modernity, Eurocentrism, Race, Gender and Colonialism."

Gaetano Marco Latronico, all but dissertation (Italy)