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How to choose a university

Now that you've decided to study for an LLM, you might think the tough decisions are over. Unfortunately there is still a lot to mull over, including your choice of law school. You're not being thrown into something entirely new, and you most likely did a lot of research for your undergraduate university; the criteria you used then can still be relevant.

Of course you could save yourself a decision by continuing at the university you attended for your graduate degree, with some offering alumni scholarships if you take this route – although these are rare and competitive, so do some research. You already know if you're happy at your current university, and you're well acquainted with the local area and study spaces.

LLM subjects & course details

If you decide to jump ship, however, there is a lot to consider. Just like when you were applying the first time, it's important to compare courses at different schools. LLMs tend to be far more specialised than undergraduate degrees, and so module options will vary dramatically from university to university. Some LLMs focus on a very specific area, so if you're interested in studying Canon Law your options will be more limited than those who are looking at a general LLM.

Options can also be limited by style of teaching – not all universities offer LLMs as part-time or distance learning courses, and even fewer offer LLM by Research.

University reputation & networking connections

Once you have researched which schools offer the course you want, you can begin to think about which of your remaining options work best for you. Law is a competitive field, and so the reputation of your school is something to consider. Just like at undergraduate level, the Russell Group is highly regarded. University league tables from The Guardian, The Times and QS World can be helpful, but rankings do vary and so tables are not always the most reliable source.

Perhaps a better indicator of a university's status is to check out their links with law firms and chambers. You most likely didn't take employability into account when choosing your undergraduate degree, many years ago when a career seemed so far away, but once you start your LLM you're only a year away from needing a job. Certain law firms have preferred schools, and whilst you won't necessarily be discriminated against for straying from these options, if you have a specific firm in mind it would be best to go along with what they advise.

Research which firms and chambers attend university law fairs and careers events, and find out who sponsors the law society. These could be vital connections for landing a job, and if your chosen university has little to offer you could lose out on a wealth of networks. You can also check out recruitment brochures from employers to see which universities their employees intended, or you can get in touch with the law school to ask about recent graduates.

Location & postgraduate funding

Once you've battled through all these decisions, you can think about location. Unlike undergraduate degrees, the LLM is not funded by a government loan, and so you will have to take your financial status into account. Generally rent is cheaper outside of London and further north in the UK. You may also want to consider part-time job opportunities, which will be greater in bigger cities, and whether or not your law school has bursaries or scholarships. Tuition fees also vary across universities, ranging from as little as £3,400 to a staggering £13,500!

The final decision

If you still have multiple options after taking all this into account, the last thing to do is visit the area and the university. Most likely at this stage of your education you won't be taking part in many extracurricular activities or need to consider halls of residence, but chatting to tutors and checking out the local area is worthwhile.

By Lauren Bowes, Editor,