UCL Faculty of Laws


LLM (Master of Laws)

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

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Thank you for your interest in studying with us. Due to the large numbers of students wanting to join us, we unfortunately cannot accept any further applications for entry to 2020-21 taught postgraduate programmes.

In response to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from COVID-19, we had extended our usual application closing date of 31 July to give a greater opportunity for individuals to consider their personal circumstances.  Due to the volume of applications now received, we are sorry to inform you that we are no longer able to accept new applications.

Thank you again for considering a place at UCL, and we hope you will consider applying to join us in the 2021-22 academic year. We hope to open applications for 2021 entry in October 2020, but we recommend revisiting this page closer to the time for further updates.

Our LLM programme provides the ideal platform for you to develop expertise in specialist subject areas, and benefit from research-led teaching from the people who are recognised as experts in their field.

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 Research Essay completed throughout the programme, 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. 


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Programme structure

Exciting new changes for LLM students joining us from the 2020/21 academic year

UCL Laws is pleased to announce exciting new changes to the LLM (Master of Laws) for students joining from the 2020/21 academic year. After wide consultation with our alumni and leading law firms, students who join the LLM from the 2020/21 academic year will now undertake a 10 month/42 week programme, concluding in July 2021. Students will be required to study three taught modules of 45 credits each (or a combination of 45-credit modules and 22.5 credit half modules). This will allow our students the opportunity for greater depth of study in their chosen areas. The length of the Research Essay/dissertation will change from 60 credits to 45 credits.

Read full details of the changes.

What to expect

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 consisting of Taught Modules and a Research Essay.

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.

Term three

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 the entire year from September to July you will work on your Research Essay (RE) which will be submitted at the end of term three.


The LLM Law programme consists of 180 credits (equivalent to 90 European Credit System ECTS-credits).

Class attendance is expected throughout the duration of the academic year in which you are registered.

Your attendance will be monitored regularly through a combination of class registers, meetings with personal tutors, examination attendance, coursework and RE 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 can be taught in a combination of seminars, lectures and tutorials. Methods of instruction for each module are usually found on our module summary pages

You will be expected to actively participate in class discussions, particularly for seminars and tutorials.  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 webpage 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 often by examination, an assessed coursework essay, or through a combination of both. 

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 Research Essay (RE) which 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 Research Essay is submitted at the end of term three.

If you choose to study flexibly (up to five years) it is possible to complete the Research Essay earlier in the programme, but it must be completed within the same academic year of registering for the Research Essay Module.

Marks and awards are expected to be published by the end of July, following completion of the programme.

Research Essay

The LLM Research Essay (RE) is a written assignment consisting of 9,000 words. You can choose to write in any area of law. You will be allocated an RE advisor who provides guidance on choosing the topic and researching and writing the essay.

The RE 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 RE does not merely describe the law, but presents an argument.

The RE 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 RE 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 be assigned to an advisor. Research and writing continues in terms two and three with submission at the end of term three. The best preparation for the 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.

Planning your programme

With a wide selection of graduate taught modules to choose from, there are numerous possible combinations of study on the LLM. Add to that the diversity of the Research Essay (RE) 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 RE topics in advance. You will be expected to indicate your module choice and specialism in your personal statement and make your module selections before arrival.

You will be asked to confirm your specialism when you select your modules in the summer before enrolment. Specialisms and modules can only be changed in exceptional circumstances with the approval of the Programme Director. 

General degree and specialist degree pathways

If you choose to obtain the general LLM Law degree you can  study any combination of  Masters level taught modules on offer at UCL Faculty of Laws. The compulsory Research Essay may be written on any area of law.

If you wish to obtain a LLM specialist degree you must select a minimum of 60 credits from the qualifying modules listed in that specialism, plus write your Research Essay in the area of the specialism.


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 please refer to the Modules page.

You may take any combination of modules within the requirements of your specialism, 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. Timetables for each module will be provided at the time of module selection. 

All modules studied must be Masters level taught Laws modules. 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 Research Essay (RE) topic

The Research Essay (RE) is a compulsory essay that you will complete throughout your programme of study.

You will be asked to indicate your RE topic in November. You may choose any topic but if you are studying a LLM specialist degree your RE 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 RE. 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.

Specialist degrees

In addition to the general Master of Laws (LLM) programme there are a number of 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. If you wish to obtain a LLM specialist degree you must select a minimum of 60 credits from the qualifying modules listed in that specialism, plus write your Research Essay in the area of the specialism.

All students apply to the general LLM programme. However, once you receive an offer, in the summer before enrolment, you will choose your modules and 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.