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: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Dr Ian Williams
Other Teachers:
Professor Charles Mitchell


The underlying theme of the module is legal change: why and how law changes. This theme is explored by investigation of selected topics in the history of the common law, many of which are the subject of debate amongst legal historians.

By the end of the module, students will be able to consider possible causes of legal change and different ways in which legal change is effected. These will be based on a good understanding of selected topics in English legal history, and will show engagement with debates in the field.


The module covers topics in this history of the common law from around 1150 to around 1960, but most topics will not cover the entire chronological span.

Proportionately more of the module will be spent on the early-modern period. The module will cover topics in private law (principally obligations, but also some property), some public law and legal institutions.

The module will also feature seminars on the role of legal education and legal literature in developing law, and we intend to incorporate material from UCL Special Collections into these seminars.

The topics for several seminars in Term 2 will be decided following consultation with students.

Background Reading (optional):

J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History (4th edition, London, 2002) will be the primary reference text.

Frequent reference will also be made to:
S.F.C. Milsom, The Historical Foundations of the Common Law (2nd edition, London, 1981).

No prior knowledge of English law or history is assumed for the module.

Students wishing to prepare for the first seminar might wish to read pages 12-22, 4-6 and 72-76 in Baker (above). These outline the emergence of the principal institutions of English law in the medieval period which we shall cover in Seminar 1. We shall focus particularly on modes of trial and their effect on development of substantive law.

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: Small – less than 15 students
Who may enrol: LLM students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core Module for LLM specialism: Legal History
Final Assessment: 2 x 3,000 word coursework essays
Practice Assessment: A draft of one coursework essay can be submitted at the start of Term 2. Detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement will be provided.

This page was last updated on 8 July, 2014


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.