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LLM (Master of Laws) in Public Law

Public law defines any legislation that affects the individual: it is linked to the relationship between state, government and members of the public. It was formerly called constitutional law and at its core is the ancient principle of jurisprudence. It is about the balance between ensuring civil order and respect for the law while allowing freedom of thought, speech and action. It also includes the interface between the rights and responsibilities of governments and those of citizens. So it considers all kinds of legal and social issues, such as crime, justice and human rights and the ways in which laws are framed, altered and enforced. With globalisation, the field has expanded to cover relationships between different states and countries, war and international disputes. This is a complex field and is constantly changing in response to national and international events. If you have a wide interest in law and enjoy exploring and comparing complicated legal ideas, then an LLM in public law could be right for you.

The legal system in England and Wales (but not Scotland) is founded on the principle of ‘common law’. This sometimes presents difficulties for students from countries where the law is based on a different type of theory (for instance, the Napoleonic code in France). If you do come from a common-law jurisdiction, it can also take time to understand other types of legal thinking. So be sure to read around unfamiliar ideas before the course starts. 

Find LLM programs in Public Law

Number crunching the LLM in Public Law

Public Law1 Year of Study

3 Major Areas to Specialise in

37 Public Law Programs in the UK

LLM in Public Law – who's it for?

Public Law is an increasingly popular area to specialise in, appealing not only due to its diverse nature but also due to its direct cause-and-effect value. Solicitors and legal workers in the field of public law find themselves in the thick of everyday situations relevant to common individuals or society. It allows them the chance to experience first-hand the power of the law and see its impact where it counts the most – in the lives of the common man. Individuals that are unafraid of challenges and are passionate about implementing the law in its most direct form would find themselves most suited to an LLM in Public Law.

Where can you study an LLM in Public Law?

Public Law is one of the most highly sought after as well as most pursued courses law schools offer. There are over 40 exceptional programs offered across the world, and particularly in the United Kingdom. Some universities, including City University of London and Amsterdam Institution of Law, specialise in Public International Law, while others such as the Arizona State University has a program of Public Health Law and Policy focus on a particular sub-section of Public Law. Of course, most universities focus on the general subject of Public Law allowing individuals to choose their particular stream after completing their masters.

What qualifications do you need to study an LLM in Public Law?

The exact qualifications required to study an LLM in Public Law vary from country to country as well as university to university, but owing to the fact that an LLM is a postgraduate qualification, it is in general required that all students possess at least a Bachelor-level law degree, or an LLB with a grad of at least 2.1. In some situations a non-law degree will be considered if it has some relevant content. Some universities will also consider applicants if they have relevant work experience and a proven level of commitment to this area of study.

Non-native English speakers will need to provide proof of a high level of the English language in the form of English language certification such as IELTS (band score of 7) or TOEFL (score of 107 or above), and as with undergraduate results, this will vary by institution.

An LLM in Public Law advances careers in...

Students graduating with an LLM in Public Law have the option to continue studying in order to specialise within a certain field, or take up work in a public law office. The former can choose to have further postgraduate degrees in Constitutional Law, for example, or else expand to other areas such as Criminal Law. If choosing to work in Public Law offices, individuals can choose to work either as solicitors or legal counsel, offering advice and consultation services. A political career can also greatly benefit from a Public Law degree as it imparts knowledge directly relevant to an individual's well being and happiness within state-governed laws.

Interesting Public Laws

If you are still undecided about whether an LLM in Public Law is the right step for your career, consider the following laws that could have benefited from a second thought or two…

1. A 19th Century English Law makes it illegal for women to consume any form of Chocolate on Public Transport.

2. Handling salmon in a 'suspicious manner' remains a criminal offence in over 4 countries, including the United Kingdom.

3. The US State of Iowa considers it illegal to market margarine as butter.

4. In Ohio, a policeman is allowed to bite an angry dog if seen as suitably needed.

5. Georgia has a law that states it is illegal to eat fried chicken with any form of utensil other than fingers.

Recommended reading

Constitutional and Administrative Law by Alex Carroll

Public Law: Text, Cases and Materials by Le Sueur, Sunkin and Murkens

Constitutional and Administrative Law by H Barnett

Studies in Constitutional Law by C Munro


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