Doctoral Programme - Legal Cultures in Transnational World

Doctoral Programme “Legal Cultures in Transnational World” (LeCTra) focuses on the recent and ever stronger new forms of interaction between different legal cultures piercing the traditional borders of the nation states. This transformation stirs and requires enrichment and further development of legal pluralist approaches. In short: pluralism in law must be accompanied by pluralism in methods and approaches. This change has been coined as a new kind of transnational law. The key emphasis here is concentrated in the qualifier “trans-”. In a nutshell it means that different legal cultures maintain their essential features even when transposing under a foreign legal culture. Legal pluralism reflects issues that in recent scholarship have been approached through a range of theoretical notions such as moral, cultural and political pluralism or relativism. LeCTra invites applications that elucidate the plurality of laws, norms and institutions by paying attention to the variety of cultural, moral and normative sources that can be perceived behind them. Thus the focus of LeCTra is not in a traditional comparison of legal structures and institutions typical for modern law like court system but rather in such cultural practises and ways of legal thinking which are, at least partly, based on non-legal sources. Legal pluralism reflects issues that in recent scholarship have been approached through a range of theoretical notions such as moral, cultural and political pluralism or relativism. LeCTra invites applications that elucidate the plurality of laws, norms and institutions by paying attention to the variety of cultural, moral and normative sources that can be perceived behind them. Therefore, LeCTra is multidisciplinary in its methods, in its objects of research, and in the basic training and education of its doctoral students.

LeCTra focuses in three types of typical paradigms when it seeks to explore, understand and explain the phenomenon of law becoming transnational:

(i) Interaction of legal cultures of developing economies (China, India, Russia);
(ii) Legal cultures which are strongly, and sometimes directly, connected to a non-legal source (Islamic law, Jewish law, Christian Catholic natural law);
(iii) Legal linguistics (key insights in understanding and working with different cultural elements when dealing with legal texts);
(iv) LeCTra has an accompanying forth focal area: the theories and methods of multicultural legal studies (ontology, epistemology, methodology).

In LeCTra the use of this fourth focal area will be twofold:

a) It is a research object of its own, enabling a doctoral student to choose a topic with tailored theoretical or methodical emphasis;

b) All the doctoral students will benefit from the academically ambitious lectures, seminars and workshops arranged with special emphasis to theoretical and methodological problems. 

The methodology of LeCTra is based on three fundamentals:

1) Research concentrates on basic questions concerning different legal cultures and the accompanying legal pluralism including legal languages;

2) Research emphasises the importance of abandoning the priority of conventional national forms of legal thinking: the epistemic boundaries of one legal system only and prevalent national doctrinal approaches;

3) Research is primarily aimed to international academic community, even though many of the results are also useful while trying to grasp growing national legal pluralism.

LeCTra doctoral training contains four basic forms of education which are:

1) Top-level international lectures, which are divided into:

  • Doctoral Programme's own lectures and
  • General lectures offered by the University of Lapland's own Centre for Research Education (transferable skills of research and academic writing).

2) Topical seminars come in two kinds of forms:

  • LeCTra General Seminars deal with legal cultures and traditions as well as epistemic and methodological questions concerning understanding law which is culturally different from ones own. The aim is to strengthen the capacity to conceive law in plural ways, underlining the importance to understand law in comparative non-national perspective, exceeding the level of national legal systems and that of formal law;
  • Specific seminars are tailored so that they deal specifically with the themes of individual PhD-researches.

3) Advanced courses contain several types of courses:

  • Program-oriented courses in the beginning of LeCTra devoted to special themes essential to core idea of transnationality (universalism, particularism and identity);
  • Track-oriented courses where one of the four focal areas of LeCTra is dominant (e.g., comparison between Chinese, Indian, and Russian law in certain specific question);
  • Track-focused courses deepening the understanding on certain specific theme under the focal area;
  • PhD oriented courses where the theme is chosen to directly support one or more PhD themes.


4) Practically oriented workshops are meeting of experts where the background often is a concrete project (e.g., establishment of business in China or Sámi folklore). The key aim of workshops is that the practical situations can be as directly as possible used as examples in the dissertations.

These forms of education are not organised in consecutive chronological manner, but, rather, doctoral student takes part actively in these forms in accordance to their own personal plan for receiving PhD, taken also into account their research periods at foreign participant universities. 

The whole amount of four year PhD studies is counted as 240 ECTS. General lectures and courses on transferable skills and other general subjects are 30 ECTS. LeCTra lectures and LeCTra seminars are 15 ECTS each, together 30 ECTS. LeCTra advanced courses and workshops are 60 ECTS each, and together 120 ECTS. LeCTra doctoral training modules required by each doctoral student are altogether 180 ECTS. This leaves for sole individual supervised writing of PhD 60 ECTS (meaning roughly one year's work).


LeCTra doctoral training will offer an exceptional possibility to apply and take benefit of EU-funded RUCHIN LLP-programme. The internal division of labour of RUCHIN and LeCTra is ideal: RUCHIN is a programme for the planning of PhD curriculum in detail whereas LeCTra is devoted to execution of a doctoral programme. 

LeCTra will also explore the possibility to implement "European jointly supervised PhDs (Cotutelle)" in cases of doctoral students from other EU member states. Moreover, LeCTra follows closely in all its activities the Cotutelle guidelines and the best practises developed under the already existing Cotutelle agreements on enrolment, supervision and the evaluation of doctoral students' doctoral degree dissertations.

University of Maribor is closely linked to LeCTra, also Maastricht University and its innovative Faculty of Law offer many fruitful possibilities for cooperation in research and education.

LeCTra requires from its doctoral students two periods in foreign participant universities. These periods can vary from three months to one year. For a weighty ground the whole length of foreign periods can be two years (e.g. Cotutelle). Participant universities are also expected to assist in the arrangement of shorter field trips made under LeCTra plan.


At least one application - given that it fulfils the general quality criteria for all applications - relating to each of these four focal areas will be accepted.


The main document by the applicants will be there research plan. The selection criteria applied for research plans are the innovativeness, clarity and the thematic suitability to LeCTra. The applicant's academic career is also taken into account. One concrete criterion which is given significance here is the applicant's potential for doctoral studies manifested through applicant's Master's Thesis.

Supervision and Personal Study Plan (PSP)

Each LeCTra doctoral student will have two supervisors. The main supervisor is from the target field of science of the doctoral student (the field where the PhD will be presented and accepted). The adjunct supervisor follows LeCTra's core idea of multidisciplinary approach. Therefore the adjunct supervisor comes from another field of science than the main supervisor. 

In the beginning of the LeCTra four year period every doctoral student will write out a PSP in collaboration with her/his two supervisors. The study plan includes lectures, seminars, courses and workshops (methodology, theory, subject matter, professional qualifications) that are necessary for the research process and fill the possible lacks of the previous education. It also includes a plan of action and expected results, which provide mutual understanding for the agreement between the student, her/his supervisors and the responsible director of LeCTra. The realization of the PSP will be evaluated yearly with the supervisory group, based on the report made by the doctoral student.
For more information please see the link in the right column.