Student profiles

Peter Underwood LL.B LL.M

Peter is a second-year part time PhD researcher in Law.

Peter joined the University in 2015 as a graduate of Nottingham Law school where he obtained his LL.B law degree and also a graduate of The University of Law Bristol where he obtained his LL.M in legal practice specialising in Employment law.

Peters’ research interests are predominately in Field of business and contract law.

What is it you’re investigating, and why?

I am investigating into the orgins of company law and the way in which businesses within the UK function, whilst comparing them with other European jurisdictions such as Germany.

Businesses are currently able to avoid liability, or make liability very difficult to ascertain, by forming numerous companies within the same group. I am investigating into whether it is possible to make larger companies liable for the debts of their subsidiary companies that they control.

How did you become interested in this specific area, and why are you researching it at Exeter?

My interests in law have always been towards the business Field, as I feel this is the industry in which I feel I can most relate too. I became interested in this particular topic whilst reading at undergraduate level about the corporate viel.  There appeared to be so much inconsistency in the rulings, and the way it was ‘glossed over’ at undergraduate level made me want to look into it further.  This interest was further sparked when I was reading about the tax scandals from large corporations which I feel are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corporate structuring to avoid liability.

I chose to study at Exeter because of the facilities they are able to offer, both in terms of academic support, but also in the ‘team’ they put around you assist with your research.  You are given 2 supervisors and mentor which means there is always someone willing to help should you need it. Exeter is also well known for producing internationally recognised research. I have also found that the support for specialist books or databases is available, with the law school being willing to purchase specialist books for my personal research.

‘Research culture’ is a term that gets used a lot, but what does it mean, and how do YOU experience the research culture here? Is it about the facilities, your relationship with your supervisor, or something else?

Research culture to me is about being part of something bigger than your standalone research and being part of a department which contributes to the field in which you want to change. The research culture is also about the environment you are in whilst conducting your research. From day 1, even as a part time researcher, you are made to feel as part of faculty and not just a student you are treated as a researcher who is contributing to the research of the university.  The relationships with staff and supervisors enhance your experience as an early career researcher and it is this ‘research culture’ of making you feel as part of the faculty that adds to your confidence and ultimately shows in your research.  

Finally, what’s your favourite thing about studying for a PhD?

My favourite thing about studying for a PhD is that you can expand your knowledge to a niche area of the law at which you will ultimately become an expert in. Having always been interested the theory of the law, the PhD provides a perfect platform to dig a little deeper and make your mark in the Field in which your researching. The PhD also provides a clear pathway for early academics and from day 1 you feel on the route to becoming an academic.  Whilst the PhD requires commitment, the prospect of making an original contribution to the industry I have been studying for around 8 years is an encouraging goal to work towards.


  • Analysis on the employment law reforms under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. ISBN: 3656922551
  • Critical Legal Thinking in Philosophy. The Theories of Bentham, Rawl and Nozick. ISBN: 3656919704