Article by Bunmi Adaramola
Before making an application to study a law masters at postgraduate level, there are many things you need to take into consideration before making the application and also in order to enjoy the full benefits which come with the Masters’ experience. As we are now in the season for LLM applications, in this article I will be providing an overview of my Masters experience and factors you need to think about carefully before making any decision regarding your LLM application.
The course structure and content of an LLM usually differs between all universities, with some schools offering the option to do a long dissertation or making it a compulsory module. This, similar to the undergraduate degree, would usually be between 6,000 to 15,000 words. Additionally, you may decide to change cities or even countries to study your Masters and sometimes this will depend on the LLM program you intend to study or if you intend to progress from your Masters into a PhD or a research degree. It is therefore important to carefully consider your options and not rush into making any choices or decisions with choosing your Masters.
I have grouped the key questions you need to be thinking about under the following headings: (i)Why; (ii)What; (iii)Where and (iv) how.
Why? I think one of the most fundamental, although very obvious, question you need to be asking yourself as honestly as you possibly can is: Why do you want to study a Masters in law? People have very different reasons for wanting to pursue an LLM. Are you interested in broadening your knowledge in an area of law with the hopes of specialising in that area? Are you weighing your options and assessing the possibility of later going into academia and want to get a feel of it before making any final decisions? Are you thinking of career changing and wanting to get a feel of what studying law entails before making any final decisions? For whatever reason, it is so important you know why you want to pursue the LLM so you don’t do it for the wrong reasons and you go into it full prepared mentally. Knowing why you are interested in a law masters would help you carefully consider other questions and options to fully prepare you for what it entails.
What: After answering the ‘Why’ question, this would tie nicely into you now thinking about What type of LLM? Unlike the LLB, where you are only able to select a handful of modules, the LLM gives you the opportunity to sort of predetermine what you want to do and the modules you want to take to give you the best chances at broadening your knowledge on that area of law. For instance, the LLM pathway and program can range from Business Law, Comparative Law, Corporate Law, Human Rights Law and so on, and you have the opportunity of choosing modules that directly align itself to the overall programme title. So if you’re not a fan of criminal law or personal injury and you choose to study an LLM in Corporate Law, your modules (down to the compulsory ones) would have a direct link to Corporate Law only.
Where: As with your decision to study your LLB or your first degree, it is important to have questions about where you want to study your LLM. It is important to note that many times, the decision as to what university may tie with your funding options so it is worth considering this. For instance, you may decide to study your LLM at the same university you studied your LLB or first degree in, as many UK universities offer a bursary or scholarship to its alumni.
How: In line with thinking about where you intend to study the LLM, you need to also have serious conversations about funding. Where you study your LLM usually determines how much it would cost as well as various funding opportunities. If you are an international student, it is important for you to look into scholarships or funding from your home country or the university itself if you are not funded by family or relatives, considering how expensive the LLM is. Again, this is subjective as expenses range from the type of university to the country or city you intend to study the LLM.
Once you have thought about and answered these questions, you are well on your way to now thinking about and highlighting the universities you intend to apply to as well as your Masters’ personal statement (if applicable).