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Posted Aug. 17, 2015

Top 5 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Starting Your LLM Degree

Before embarking on an LLM program you need to make sure you can answer the following questions in a positive way:

1. Do you have the funding? To study an LLM you will need enough money to cover your tuition fees and living costs. Some universities will offer scholarships and there are also private loan options for you to consider if you need to raise more funds.

2. Do you have the time? LLMs are often studied on a full-time basis, so if you have other commitments such as work or a family, you may find yourself overwhelmed. Make sure you have enough time to study your LLM.

3. Why are you considering an LLM? Think carefully about why you want to study an LLM program. Is it to boost your career options? For personal/academic fulfilment? To learn about an area of interest in greater detail? These are all good reasons to study an LLM.

4. Will an LLM help your career? Ask people further up the career path whether they think studying an LLM will help you achieve your career goals.

5. Are you clever enough? An LLM is academically demanding – have you got the brain power to achieve success?

6. Are you hardworking enough? Not only do you need to be academically able, but you will also need to put in some hard graft to get the right results.

If you pass the positive test it's time for the next stage – preparing to study your LLM.

Preparing for LLM study

So you’re now enrolled into the LLM degree course at your preferred university and  looking forward to starting the course!

Once you set foot on campus, you will be busy attending induction sessions at university or taster seminars that will help you decide on your modules. There will be very little time for you between these sessions and before you start attending seminars, therefore you will need to prepare yourself sooner than when you would actually start engaging with your topics in more detail.

Here are top 5 ways to ensure that you are fully equipped to start studying your LLM program – go through these steps just after you get comfortable in your new residential accommodation.

1. Know your courses

It is extremely important that you have a clear mind about the modules that you would select after enrolling into the degree. Once you make a decision on the courses, you will need to start thinking about how much reading time you would need to allocate for each of them and the kind of reading material that you need for research. In short, you would do better in listing out a weekly schedule for the courses that you will attend during each week of the taught semester. For instance, make a list of the core readings that you need and also reference books that you can get your hand on. It will also be a good plan to familiarise yourself with some of the hot topics in your subject area before entering class.

2. Keep stock

This is the key stage when you assemble some basic things that you can’t do without when you get started on your seminars, readings and research. You may decide to pick a regular study spot at the library or a quiet place on campus. Either way, when you step out of your accommodation, you must always remember to carry:

  • Your tablet/laptop, visiting cards, pens and notepads – especially if you plan to study or attend events.
  • College identity cards and library cards.
  • Travel cards or Oyster card (if you’re travelling within London).
  • NUS cards/student discount vouchers.

3. Purchase books

Following on from above, it would be sensible to get your hand on the reading list for a course as soon as you can! Typically your reading list should be shared during the first few weeks into the semester. If not, ask for it! You will need to start buying essential textbooks for a course. Some colleges may recommend sellers who offer student discounts. Ask your tutor/lecturer for the essential books to buy and the ones you will use the most. For some modules you may need the most recent books; in which case you would need to shell out more than others which can be made use of as second hand copies – most likely available through Amazon!

4. Visit the library

This brings me to a related point – make sure you know which libraries you can get access to. For example if you are a law student in London, students enrolled in one college may have access to libraries located at other colleges. Start visiting these libraries beforehand so you know your way around rather than doing it last minute!

Once you found out about the libraries you can get access to using your college ID card, start spending time in these libraries straight away.

  • Take your reading lists along and check the availability of books.
  • Also don’t forget to check the holidays/closing times.
  • Look out for photocopying machines, charges on copying/scanning and how you can use them efficiently so you don’t unnecessarily spend money on them.
  • Ask for any more information that you may need at the library reception – and don’t hesitate as your tuition fee includes library access!

5. Check for important updates and notices

After enrolment you will ideally get your own college email IDs. You must check your emails every day to ensure you don’t miss any important notifications. If you are unable to do so for any reason, talk to other class colleagues to get updates. You don’t want to miss out on information such as:-

  • A class getting cancelled because a lecturer is unwell – this information is usually shared via your college email or through a class representative.
  • Last dates for submitting your dissertation proposal (and similar course assessment dates).
  • Extra-tutorial support.
  • …and last but not the least – LLM socials!

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