Master of Laws (LLM) Programme

LLM Independent Research Essay

The LLM Independent Research Essay (IRE) is 12,000 words. It is researched and written under the guidance of a member of academic staff. The model for the IRE is the law journal article or law review essay. This is different from doctoral research. The student is not expected to develop an original thesis, but when finished should demonstrate a solid understanding of a particular aspect of law and the ability to explain and criticise it convincingly. The LLM IRE does not merely describe the law, but presents an argument.

The IRE module has several aims. Every student will learn more about a particular aspect of law in depth and enhance her or his ability to develop and make a cogent argument, research efficiently and comprehensively, and write for a legal audience. The IRE adds breadth to the programme since guidance is available for a wide range of topics beyond those offered through the taught modules. The opportunity to pursue the project with the guidance of an academic advisor is often a very special part of the LLM programme for each student.

In term one, the student will formulate a topic, and by the start of term two, will be assigned to an advisor. Early in term two, the student and advisor will agree the research topic and an outline for the IRE. Research and writing continues in terms two and three and throughout the summer. The advisor provides advice and comments on a draft portion of the IRE. Additional support is provided by legal research and writing mentors.

The list of advisors and the areas in which they provide guidance is found at the link below. Please note that this list is subject to change and will be updated throughout the year, so do check it from time to time. Please also note that even if an advisor is available, he or she might not be able to offer guidance to you. There is a limit to the number of IREs that one person can support effectively each year. All our advisors are experts in their fields and happy to help you reach your full potential.

The best preparation for the IRE is to read articles in respected journals in related areas of law. You are encouraged to do this before you arrive at UCL.

IRE Advisors


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.