LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 15 credits (6 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Cheryl Thomas
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method:

10 x two-hour seminars

This module utilises 3 main teaching methods:
(1) Seminars with Course Convenor
(2) Special Judicial Guest Seminars
(3) Hands-On Judicial Decision-Making Seminars

Who may enrol: LLM students, MSc in Crime and Forensic Science students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations: LAWSG132
Practice Assessment: One practice essay on which students receive detailed feedback and indicative grades.
Assessment method for LLM and Forensic Science Masters students: 3,000 word essay
Module Overview

Module summary

This is the only LLM module in judicial studies offered in the UK. This innovative module explores the crucial role judges and courts play in the modern state - and provides students with a unique opportunity to understand what it is like to be a judge, how judges make decisions, what skills they require and what pressures and controversies they face. Leading judges, policy-makers and academic experts share their firsthand knowledge with students through the course's Special Judicial Guest Seminars, and students gain firsthand experience of judicial decision-making through a series of Hands-On Judicial Decision-Making Seminars.

Module syllabus

  • Judges, Decision-Making and Democracy
  • Judicial Studies: The Cutting Edge Study of Judges & Courts
  • How Can We Understand How Judges Make Decisions?
  • Judging in Different Courts & Jurisdictions
  • Judicial Appointments: What Makes a Good Judge?
  • Judicial Diversity & Democracy
  • The Public as Judges: Trial by Jury (2-part topic)
  • The Trappings of Judicial Power: Judicial Culture, Rites & Architecture

Recommended materials

The Power of Judges, C. Thomas (ed) of C. Guarnieri and P. Pederzoli, OUP (2002)
The Psychology of Judicial Decision-Making, D. Klein and G. Mitchell (eds), OUP (2010)
On Law, Politics and Judicialization, M. Shapiro and A. Stone Sweet OUP (2002)
Are Juries Fair? C. Thomas, MoJ Research Series 10 (2010)
Judges and Their Audiences, L. Baum, PUP (2006)

Preliminary reading

Two module readings that can be downloaded are:

Lawrence Baum, Judges and Their Audiences: A Perspective on Judicial Behaviour, Chapter 1, Princeton University Press (2006)

Cheryl Thomas, Are Juries Fair? Ministry of Justice Research Series 10 (2010)

Other information

Teaching Approach: This module requires active participation by all students in seminars. Students are assigned a series of key questions related to the assigned readings for each seminar and must come prepared to present answers as part of the seminar discussion.

Grading Approach: A Final Essay counts for 100% of the grade. However, under the Portfolio Essay approach most of this essay is written in stages during Terms 1. This means all students will have written and received feedback from the convenor on a large part of the Final Essay by the time the Final Essay is due.

Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.