LLMs in the UK
The UK offers a wide range of programmes; plenty of ‘specialist’ options sit alongside more ‘general’ LLMs. This means that you can be sure there will be a UK programme that’s right for your needs
Looking for funding for postgraduate studies? Check out the exclusive bursaries on offer from Postgrad Solutions.
The English LLM programmes
As there are over 40 universities offering about 350 LLM programmes, your first consideration might be course content. Apart from numerous ‘general’ LLMs, there is plenty of specialist study. Recently, there has been a growth in LLMs covering human rights, competition law, European law, and all aspects of international law, business and trade – all which cover important issues in today’s society. There are also a rising number of programmes that deal with armed conflict, the environment and IT/telecommunications, which are proving to be popular.
How to make a choice for your English LLM programme
The programme size and composition may influence you. Many LLM programmes recruit fewer than thirty people per year, some taking no more than ten students. Larger ones may have at least 50% international students. This range of jurisdictions and legal backgrounds is an education in itself!
Location, location, location
For exposure to legal institutions and corporate law firms, London has no rival. Conversely, it is a very expensive place to live! One point in its favour is the variety of LLMs and subject choices offered by the colleges that collectively make up the University of London, including University College London (UCL), King’s College London, Queen Mary’s and SOAS.
Another feature unique to England’s capital is the Inns of Court, home to London’s barristers (litigators) for many centuries. The Inns of Court School of Law (which changed its name in July 2008 to the City Law School) linked up with City University London to provide the UK’s first LLM in Criminal Litigation. However, other cities offer an excellent legal education, and London is never more than a few hours’ travel from anywhere in the UK.
The academic year
The UK university year stretches from late September until June. A few programmes run for slightly longer (12–18 months) or commence in January. Begin your research at least a year ahead and apply six to nine months before the course starts. Some courses have an application closing date: this can be as early as 31 January. The most popular LLMs fill up rapidly, but it is possible to get in later, although candidates applying after July may not obtain visas and clearance in time for a September start.
Apply directly, often online, to individual universities. There is no limit on how many can be applied to. Application forms usually require a lengthy personal statement persuading the admissions tutor that you have the right enthusiasm and expertise. You may have to submit examples of academic work or write an essay on a set topic. A few institutions will interview you by phone.
Entry requirements for your English LLM
These vary between universities and programmes, but usually ask for a law degree at the equivalent of a 2.1 grade, ie the top half of the second class. Some courses may accept lower academic grades, particularly with appropriate work experience. Others may consider non-law graduates whose studies are relevant to a particular course, eg one with a scientific, business or sociological slant.
Any LLM will involve reading dense and complicated texts, writing long essays that are thoroughly researched and cogently argued, and debating issues with teachers/fellow students.
Click here to find out more about the English language requirements for international students at a UK institution.
It is unusual to obtain a UK government award. Some universities have no funding at all, while others offer scholarships and bursaries to a handful of students. If you are not one of the chosen few, a part-time job is one solution (although remember that this may be subject to restrictions).
Apply for a Global LLM Study Bursary worth £500.
Studying for an LLM in the UK provides an opportunity to look at the theory and development of law in a multinational environment. An LLM adds weight to academic credentials, particularly if going on to teach or research. Legal employers everywhere see it as adding value to any application, but, in the UK, it is most acceptable alongside practical training if you intend to become a solicitor or barrister. Statistics show that many European Union (EU) and international students return home on completion of their LLM, and are successful in finding legal employment or related work.
The situation differs according to your nationality and whether you are already a qualified lawyer. The Law Society and the Bar Council can offer guidance on equivalency.
It’s worth it!
An LLM is a worthwhile addition to practical training and shows that you have high motivation and intellectual ability. It gives you extra credibility that might improve your career prospects in the short term and the medium term. Where better to study it than in the UK?