On the Master of Laws (LLM) programme at UCL Laws, you’ll be joining a community of some of the brightest and most ambitious graduate students from all over the world
Through the wide variety of taught modules we offer – from commercial and corporate law, human rights law and global health governance, to environmental law, intellectual property and legal history – you can explore your intellectual interests freely or choose to specialise in a particular area of legal research.
As part of the teaching and assessment throughout the programme, you will be able to practise and enhance your abilities to think critically and analyse legal arguments. The Independent Research Essay completed during terms two and three, will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of a particular area of law and your research skills, as well as your own capability to structure cogent arguments and write for a legal audience.
If you’re already in practice, you can choose to study part-time and complete the LLM over two or even five years. Attending the LLM programme can count toward a proportion of your non-accredited study for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) too, and many events held by UCL Laws are fully accredited.
The Master of Laws (LLM) programme can be undertaken on a full-time basis in one year, a part-time basis in two years, or on a flexible basis in up to five years. To successfully complete the LLM Law programme, you will need to obtain 180 credits: 120 credits from your taught modules and 60 credits from your Independent Research Essay.
- What to expect
Terms one and two
During the first week of term one, you will attend the LLM Induction Programme, which includes a series of events to welcome you to UCL Laws and to UCL as a whole, and to complete your formal registration onto the LLM programme.
In the second week of term, you will begin your first classes.
There are ten weeks of classes per term, with a break for reading week after week five. Throughout the term, you will be able to take advantage of the wide range of events held within the faculty and across UCL, including special lectures, mooting, debating and activities organised by the UCL Laws Graduate Law Society.
Your assessed coursework essays are normally submitted in the first week of term three. All examinations take place during term three and can be scheduled at any time during this term. The examination schedule is published at the end of term two.
During term three, you will also continue to work on your Independent Research Essay (IRE).
After the examination period has ended in term three, you will be expected to complete your Independent Research Essay for submission at the start of September.
The LLM Law programme consists of 180 credits (equivalent to 90 European Credit System ECTS-credits). This is is equivalent to 1,800 notional hours of study and the same as 48 weeks of full-time work (based on a 37.5 hour week).
You are expected to be in attendance at UCL throughout the duration of the academic year in which you are registered, from September to September. This includes the summer term, but excludes the approved UCL vacation periods in December and March/April.
Your attendance will be monitored regularly through a combination of class registers, meetings with personal tutors, examination attendance, coursework and IRE submission. Except in the case of certain extenuating circumstances, such as illness or a bereavement, you must seek prior approval from the Director of Taught Graduate Programmes for any absences from the programme.
LLM Law programme modules are taught either in seminars or in lectures and tutorials, depending on the number of students enrolled in the module. You will be able to find the methods of instruction for each module on its summary page.
You can expect to attend one two-hour seminar or lecture each week for every module you are registered on. Typically, full-time students will have eight hours of teaching time each week of terms one and two, as well as any additional tutorials. Seminars and tutorials involve class discussions, and you will be expected to actively participate in those discussions. You may also be asked to work in teams and make presentations to the rest of your class.
Each module is supported by a dedicated website containing materials such as reading lists, links to relevant websites and academic articles, as well as the latest news on the subject. Most of your classes are held at UCL, but some of our classes are held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies or at other colleges affiliated with the University of London.
Assessment in taught modules is normally by examination, an assessed coursework essay, or through a combination of both. You can find the details of the methods of assessment for each module on its module summary page.
Generally, your assessed coursework essays will be submitted at the start of term three, and all examinations are held during term three.
During the programme, you will research and write an Independent Research Essay (IRE) of up to 12,000 words, which is worth 60 credits and counts towards your final grade.
You will be expected to select a research topic in consultation with your academic advisor within an area of law that reflects your specialist degree (if applicable). The Independent Research Essay is submitted at the start of September, which is normally at the end of your LLM programme.
If you choose to study flexibly (up to five years) it is possible to complete the Independent Research Essay earlier in the programme, but it must be completed within twelve months of registering for the Independent Research Essay.
Provisional taught module and Independent Research Essay marks and recommended awards will be published at the end of October, following your completion of the programme.
- Independent Research Essay
The LLM Independent Research Essay is a written assignment of up to 12,000 words. It is researched and written under the guidance of a member of academic staff and the model for the Independent Research Essay is a law journal article or law review essay.
The Independent Research Essay is different from doctoral research. You will not be expected to develop an original thesis, although when it is complete, you should be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of a particular aspect of law and the ability to explain and criticise it convincingly. The LLM Independent Research Essay does not merely describe the law, but presents an argument.
The Independent Research Essay has several aims. Each student will learn more about a particular aspect of law in depth and enhance their ability to develop and deliver a cogent argument, research efficiently and comprehensively, and write for a legal audience. The Independent Research Essay 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 Independent Research Essay.
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 Independent Research Essay. Additional support is provided by legal research and writing mentors.
The best preparation for the Independent Research Essay is to read articles in respected journals in related areas of law and you are encouraged to do this before you arrive at UCL.
- Modules from other UCL faculties
When selecting your modules you may choose up to 30 credits from graduate modules taught in other UCL faculties and departments. The module or modules chosen must help build a coherent programme of study and be commensurate with the LLM.
Before registering on modules taught in other UCL faculties or departments, you must first receive approval from the Director of Taught Graduate Programmes and from the host faculty or department.
With just over 70 graduate taught modules to choose from, there are thousands of possible combinations of study on the LLM. Add to that the diversity of the Independent Research Essay (IRE) and you really can follow a unique programme. To get the most out of your LLM degree it is important that you plan your degree pathway, module choices and IRE topic before you arrive.
- Programme requirements
To successfully complete the LLM programme you must complete 180-credits, comprising of 120-credits of Masters level taught modules offered in the Faculty of Laws and the compulsory 12,000-word Independent Research Essay worth 60-credits. Subject to approval, this can be amended to include a maximum of 30-credits of Masters level taught modules from another faculty or department at UCL.
All modules studied must be Masters level taught modules within UCL. It is not possible to study Undergraduate level taught modules at UCL nor Masters level taught modules at another institution in order to obtain credits as part of the LLM programme.
- General degree and specialist degree pathways
If you choose to obtain the general LLM Law degree you can choose to study any combination of 120-credits of Masters level taught modules on offer in the Faculty of Laws. Subject to approval, this can be amended to include a maximum of 30-credits of Masters level taught modules from another faculty or department at UCL. The compulsory 12,000-word Independent Research Essay may be written on any area of law.
If you wish to obtain a LLM specialist degree you must study 120-credits of Masters level taught modules including a minimum of 60-credits of qualifying taught modules for that specialist degree pathway. You may take more than 60-credits of qualifying taught modules if you so wish. The remaining credits can be obtained from studying other Masters level taught modules on offer in the Faculty of Laws, including a maximum of 30-credits of Masters level taught modules from another faculty or department at UCL, subject to approval. The compulsory 12,000-word Independent Research Essay must be written on a topic related to the chosen specialist degree
- Choosing your modules
You are required to choose your modules prior to the start of your programme of study. You will be given access to the module selection process after you have been made and accepted your unconditional offer.
The Masters level taught modules offered in the Faculty of Laws have varying methods of delivery and assessment, and the modules on offer can change from year to year. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please refer to the Modules page.
There are no requirements or conditions for your module choices; you may take any combination of 15-credit and 30-credit modules, regardless of which term(s) they are taught in or how they are assessed. However, you are advised to carefully consider the teaching and assessment load for your chosen modules.
When planning your programme of study you must ensure you do not select any modules that take place at the same time on the same day. Modules worth 30-credits are full-year modules and are taught at the same day and time in both Term One and Two. Modules worth 15-credits are taught in a single term, so it is acceptable to choose two 15-credit modules that take place on the same day and time if they are taught in different terms.
All modules studied must be Masters level taught modules within UCL. It is not possible to study Undergraduate level taught modules at UCL nor Masters level taught modules at another institution in order to obtain credits as part of the LLM programme
- Planning your Independent Research Essay (IRE) topic
The Independent Research Essay (IRE) is a compulsory 12,000-word essay that you will complete throughout your programme of study. The IRE is worth a third of the marks for your degree.
You will be asked to indicate your IRE topic in November. You may choose any topic but if you wish to obtain a LLM specialist degree your IRE topic must be related to that specialism. Some advisors will offer suggested titles to help you define your chosen area.
At advanced, graduate level you should start the programme already having a reasonably clear idea of the subject matter of your IRE. If you are unsure, you should start to think about topics that have sufficient volumes of literature and articles that can be utilised in conducting your research, will sustain your interest and will enable you to showcase your writing ability.
In addition to the general Master of Laws (LLM) programme there are 18 specialist degree programmes available that allow you to obtain a Master of Laws (LLM) in a specialist area, for example a Master of Laws (LLM) in Corporate Law.
All students apply to the general LLM programme. However, once enrolled you will choose whether to study the general LLM or a specialist LLM degree pathway. There are no additional or specific entrance requirements to be able to study a specialist degree and every student admitted to the LLM programme is eligible to study a specialist degree.
To obtain a LLM specialist degree you must study 120-credits of Masters level taught modules including a minimum of 60-credits of qualifying taught modules for that specialist degree pathway. You may take more than 60-credits of qualifying taught modules if you so wish.
The remaining credits can be obtained from studying other Masters level taught modules on offer in the Faculty of Laws, including a maximum of 30-credits of Masters level taught modules from another faculty or department at UCL, subject to approval. The compulsory 12,000-word Independent Research Essay must be written on a topic related to the chosen specialist degree.