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Posted July 4, 2019

6 Reasons To Study An LLM In Criminal Law

Criminal Law LLMCriminal Law, sometimes known as Criminal Justice, is an important area of law that touches everyone's lives and is a large part of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Criminal Law Course Search

Criminal law is one of the most interesting and contentious aspects of law that you can choose – and studying an LLM in Criminal Law is a great way to fast track yourself into a career in this field. A massive range of issues are covered by criminal law, including, assault, murder, or international banking fraud. One of the hallmarks of this branch of the law is that it is highly contentious by its very nature. It is possible to work for the defense or act for the Public Defender or Crown Prosecution Service.

Studying an LLM in Criminal Law

An LLM course in Criminal Law will normally be for one year of full-time study. A 15,000-word dissertation will be a requirement for most courses. A student will typically receive between two to four hours teaching a week.

What qualifications do you need?

To study Master of Laws in the UK or US, it is necessary to have an honours degree in law at undergraduate level or equivalent degree with a significant legal element. A lot of universities would like candidates to have at least a 2:1 grade. For international students, because of the specialist language, it is essential that they have a high competency level in the English language.

What do you study?

An LLM in Criminal Law will explore many social contemporary issues including jurisprudential points such as terrorism and euthanasia. Lots of the debates crosscut through modules and jurisdictions. The LLM program has a fundamental aim to help the student understand theories and concepts that have relevance to criminal law, and how it functions in the modern world. Although course modules will obviously vary from one institution to another, here are some examples of what could be studied:

  • Current issues in criminal law and criminal justice
  • Philosophy of criminal law
  • Criminalisation
  • Corruption and organised crime
  • International criminal law
  • Sexual offending
  • Global crime
  • The penal process
  • Modern criminal procedures

LLM programs in criminal law are offered by a wide range of institutions in the UK and the US. A lot of course in this sector will provide a combination of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

Reasons to study an LLM in Criminal Law

There are plenty of great reasons why you might choose to study an LLM in Criminal Law – here are our top six.

1. Help your community

Studying criminal law will allow you to move into a career where you are helping some of your community’s most vulnerable people. Both those who commit a crime and those who are victims of crime require help and support to improve their lives. Working as a criminal lawyer will mean that you come in contact with a wide range of people who have had crime impact on their lives.

2. Career opportunities

Criminal Law will open up opportunities in both the public and private sectors. There are important career paths in areas like prosecution, defence, prison services and in parole services and plenty of options to choose from after you have completed your course, so it's an LLM speciality that is very open when it comes to job roles and career paths. 

3. Job security

The nature of most careers in Criminal Law means that they are in the public sector. This does mean that they might be impacted by local or national political budget changes, however, the reality is that these public sector jobs are usually highly secure and come with all the additional benefits people have come to expect from working for the government. There are fewer positions in private practice in Criminal Law, but those offering private services in Criminal Law will find lucrative work available along with defending those in receipt of government legal aid.

4. Varied daily work

Those working in criminal law will see people from all backgrounds and you could find yourself working with those touched by issues like poverty and drug addiction to those who are impacted by fraud or white-collar crime. Unless a barrister is involved in the case, many lawyers or solicitors involved in Criminal Law will find themselves representing clients in court, being involved in the investigation of crime and advising those who are being investigated. This amount of variety in your daily work will ensure that you never get bored.

5. Perfect for a people person

One aspect of careers in criminal law is that they are all focused on the real-life problems of real people. To excel in Criminal Law you need to be a people-focused person who enjoys speaking with and gaining an understanding of other people’s. 

6. Controversial challenge

Because criminal law is a part of everyone's lives it's always a controversial area of the law. The public always has an interest in the treatment of those who have perpetrated crimes and the victims of crimes. The impact of new laws or legal rulings creating new crimes will always make people interested in your work. The academic study of criminal law is deeply interesting and covers some of the most fascinating moral questions within the law.

Criminal law courts

Criminal law courts have a long tradition in England and Wales – here’s a brief summary of what they are and what they do.

Type of Court


Types of Cases

Magistrates Court

14th Century


Court of Appeal


Hears cases of appeal from other courts and tribunals

Crown Court


Indictable offences


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