UCL Judicial Institute


Judges, Courts and Judicial Decision-Making LLM (LAWS0312)

Judges, Courts and Judicial Decision-Making LLM (LAWS0312)

The course introduces LLM students to the empirical study of judges and courts. 

This innovative module explores the crucial role judges and courts play in the modern state, and it 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. 

The foundation of the course is Judicial Studies: the empirical study of judicial decision-making, which incorporates law-related scholarship from other disciplines such as political science, psychology, economics and neuroscience.  The module looks at the foundations of the empirical understanding of how and why judges make decisions.  

It covers the judicial role; how judges are selected; what skills are required to be a good judge; how representative the judiciary is; how judges are trained and develop their careers; and the future of judging. It is an active participatory module, where students gain first-hand experience of judicial decision-making through a series of Hands-On Judicial Decision-Making Seminars including the opportunity to act as judges in different types of cases.  Leading judges share their knowledge with students through the course's Special Judicial Guest Seminars.   

More details about this module can be found on the Faculty of Laws website

When Judges Speak: The Human Side of Judging

At the last seminar in the course, it was invaluable for the students to have a chance to hear from judges about their journey to becoming a judge and what it’s really like to be a judge. The seminar was under the Chatham House Rule, which gave the students an insight of the judges personal experiences to help bring out “the human side of judging”.

Cheryl and 3 judges

Professor Cheryl Thomas invited 3 special guest judges; from left to right: Her Honour Judge Lynn Tayton KC, Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro KC and Mrs Justice Juliet May