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LLM Criminal Law

An LLM in Criminal Law covers a number of the most relevant and, at times, some of the most controversial aspects of modern law on both a domestic and international basis. As a student of this subject you will explore laws and legislation regarding crime and state enforcement of criminal law, including the analysis of crimes and punishment in accordance with these set rules.

Criminal law plays a key role in many of today’s most topical issues, and allows for a diverse area of study on both a national and international platforms, including comparatives studies of jurisdictions and the implications of conflicting cross-jurisdictional issues in some cases.

Core Modules

An LLM Criminal Law will allow you to analyse the five aims implemented in criminal law enforcement: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. Module choice will vary according to each institution; however, an LLM in this specialist area will tend to cover subjects such as:

  • Homicide
  • The death penalty
  • International criminal law
  • Criminal justice
  • Terrorism
  • Criminal law theory
  • Youth justice
  • Gender, sexuality and criminal justice
  • Psychology.

Course structure

If you choose to take on an LLM Criminal Law course, most of your options will take the form of ‘taught’ programmes. You will therefore have to complete a number of compulsory modules and optional modules or credits (to be determined by the law school) and pass a combination essay requirements, projects or assessments and a dissertation.

A number of UK universities run LLM Criminal Law courses. There are variations in the focus of some courses; for example, City University run an LLM Criminal Litigation course, which covers modules in advocacy, criminal procedure, criminal evidence and sentencing and concerns many issues relating to practice. It can be a useful qualification for students who eventually want to proceed to the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course). LSE, University of Nottingham and University of Sussex, amongst others, offer Master of Laws in criminology and criminal justice.

Entry requirements for LLM Criminal Law

You will need at least a 2:2 (some institutions require at least a 2:1) in an undergraduate law degree, or an international equivalent, in order to be eligible for this type of LLM. Non-law graduates can also apply in most cases, providing they have achieved at least a 2:1 (or equivalent), and have enough legal knowledge, such as a (Graduate Diploma in Law) qualification.

By Jos Weale, Editor,