Choosing to study for an LLM is a big choice, and there’s plenty of factors that you should take into account. This handy LLM Guide will highlight matters to consider including how you undertake your LLM, funding options, LLM subjects, law schools and application tips.
Full-time, Part-time or Distance Learning?
The difference here is pretty obvious. A full-time LLM will require a student to devote themselves entirely to the LLM, just like an undergraduate degree. You will attend lectures, participate in seminars and undertake independent study. Spending about 40 hours a week learning, a full-time LLM will take between nine and 12 months to complete.
A part-time LLM programme will also involve attending lectures and seminars. However, the times when these take place differ; the majority of part-time postgraduates continue to work whilst they study, which means their university contact hours in which they attend lectures and group discussions take the form of evening and/or weekend sessions.
For distance learning LLM students, the experience of an LLM is entirely different. You will be away from the actual university campus or study centre for most of the time (an introductory session may be mandatory). Most distance learning courses will mean the vast majority of contact will be via email and online seminars. The time take to complete the course depends on your other commitments and how much you can devote to your studies.
There’s no getting around it; the LLM isn’t cheap. Prices range from £4,000 to a whopping £14,000 and you can check out the prices for the LLM at each university here. As there’s no student loan to help you out either, there are several different ways to fund your LLM.
Firstly, you could fund it yourself. Whether you have savings, or plan to work and study for the LLM part-time. Alternatively, there are a range of LLM scholarships and LLM bursaries that are available. What’s the difference, you say? Well, a scholarship is usually offered by a university or organisation to a high-achieving, super-clever LLM applicant. As you can imagine, competition for LLM scholarships is pretty intense. Bursaries, however, are usually awarded based on the applicant’s financial need. So even if you didn’t get full marks in your undergraduate studies, you may still be eligible for a bursary.
Scholarships and bursaries may only cover part of the total LLM cost. Therefore, you may want to look into taking out a bank loan. There are a number of banks who offer Professional and Career Development Loans, but be warned, these are very different to undergraduate student loans, and you have to pay them back, with interest, over a set period of time.
You can choose to either study a general LLM or a specialised LLM, that will have modules covering very niche topics, giving you some very in-depth knowledge of that area.
A fair few LLM students are already practising lawyers and therefore they know which LLM specialism will complement their career. You don’t have to be a practising lawyer to undertake a specialist LLM. For example, those in business and people who want to get into law from the academic side, may choose to study a specialised LLM. Examples of specialised LLMs include business law, criminal law, European law and intellectual property law.
Both will require a dissertation and extended written pieces of work. Whichever type of LLM you choose, you will develop the skills, such as the ability to research and debate areas of law.
LLM Application Tips
All sound good? Great! You’re ready to start researching and applying for an LLM course. As well as needing all the usual paperwork of your LLB marks statement, one or two references and proof of proficiency in the English language if you’re an international student, the LLM application process will include a personal statement and varying deadlines.
Unlike UCAS deadlines, there’s no general deadline for LLM courses and each university or law school will have their own deadlines. Make sure you double check, just to be sure.
With regard to the personal statement there are a few necessary things to include. Top priority should be given to conveying your passion for the subject and an active interest, evidenced by your undergraduate studies and work experience. Read through the course specification too and anticipate the skills, knowledge and attributes required to do well in the subject.
A strong personal statement and academic record will mean that you are able to send off a competitive LLM application.