LLM is an abbreviation of the Latin Legum Magister, which means Master of Laws. Historians have traced the origin of the LLM degree back to 1860 at Columbia University in the United States. Historically, the LLM degree has largely been used across the education systems of English speaking countries.
More recently, the Master of Laws degree has been utilised across several European countries even where the Bologna Process – an initiative where European governments engage in discussions regarding higher education policy reforms and strive to overcome obstacles to create a European Higher Education Area – has not been fully implemented.
An LLM degree is a Master’s level qualification – which you can study part-time or full-time, – and enables you to study your preferred area of law in greater depth than at undergraduate level.
A part-time LLM degree course lasts for two years and is typically chosen by those who might want to work while they study
If you are keen to complete your degree more quickly and focus on studying, you might opt for a full-time LLM degree course, which lasts for 12 months
The LLM is a non-professional qualification. You can practise law without it, but employers look favourably upon potential candidates with an LLM degree.
There are two types of LLM degree:
The LLM Master of Laws (General) features more topics and allows you to study different areas of law until you develop an individualised curriculum that you are most interested in.
In contrast, a Specialised LLM allows you to focus purely on a specific area of law that interests you. This enables you to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of an area of law that you would like to specialise in.
If you have studied a non-law degree but are interested in studying it as a postgraduate, you might consider the general LLM. Law graduates may want to study a specific legal area more deeply with specialised LLM. However, non-law graduates may find an area of focus relating to their degree, such as science graduates wanting to pursue an IP LLM or software engineers pursuing an IT LLM.
Specialised LLM degrees include, but are not limited to:
Studying a Master of Laws degree enhances your knowledge of national and international legal systems. Getting into the legal profession is competitive, and while an LLM is not a guarantee of employment, it certainly adds weight to your CV when applying for jobs in the legal sector.
Enrolling on an LLM programme also offers various networking opportunities through university careers centres, law societies and visiting representatives from different law firms and organisations.
Most LLM courses require you to have a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree in law or a related discipline. A high 2:2 may be considered if it’s supported by strong references and work experience.
Some universities accept candidates who have completed a non-law undergraduate degree provided they demonstrate a keen interest and aptitude for law.
International students must have completed an equivalent legal qualification in their home jurisdiction in order to apply for an LLM course. However, some universities will allow those who have a degree relevant to law, like sociology, politics and some humanities degrees, onto their programmes.
There are currently 112 LLM programmes available in the UK offered by a mix of Russell Group and Redbrick universities, including:
For a complete list of LLM universities and programmes, visit our dedicated LLM courses page.
The University of Law offers a multitude of LLM programmes, including:
ULaw’s LLM Master of Laws (General) degree is designed to enhance your academic legal knowledge, and allows you to focus on specific areas of law. You have complete flexibility over the modules you choose and your dissertation topic.
The LLM Legal Practice (SQE1 & 2) with ULaw is specifically designed for graduates who want to qualify as a solicitor through the SQE route. The course aims to enhance your academic knowledge and includes four weeks of guaranteed Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) within their Legal Advice Clinics.
There are many more specialised LLM degrees available to suit whatever area you may be thinking about furthering your studies in.
ULaw is one of the longest providers of LLM courses in the UK and they work with over 90 of the top 100 law firms in Britain to ensure that you are fully prepared as a trainee solicitor and ready to transition into your first role.
Unlike undergraduate degrees, which require an application through UCAS, LLM applications are made directly to the university where you want to study – either online or through paper copies.
Applications open in October and close by the end of the year or early spring the following year. As the deadlines vary, it is important to check the specific university requirements.
As such, the processes and required documentation vary across institutions. However, candidates are generally required to complete:
Depending on your LLM school of study, you may focus on the more theoretical aspects of a certain area of law, such as administrative law or constitutional law, or you may spend time analysing commercial legal issues in more corporate areas.. Most LLMs will include both legal theory (or legal knowledge) and application as part of the syllabus.
In addition to taking a standard set of modules, you will be given the option to choose a number of electives in subjects such as financial crime or international financial transactions.
You will usually be expected to a dissertation in a subject area of your choice.
The LLM is not a direct pathway to qualifying as a solicitor or barrister. Even with an LLM you will need to complete the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and a two-year period of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) to qualify as a solicitor.
LLM course fees vary across those universities offering LLM programmes. That’s because, unlike fees for undergraduate degrees, fees for Masters programmes are set by universities rather than the UK government.
Course fees can range from £8,650 up to £18,000 for domestic students, while international students will pay anywhere between £12,000 and £20,000. Some universities also require you to pay an upfront deposit if you receive an offer.
Plus, if the LLM programme you take is taught on-site, bear in mind that course fees do not factor in living costs – such as accommodation, transport and other expenses – which you will need to think about.
You could be eligible for a postgraduate loan to help you fund your Master of Laws degree and cover your living costs. Some universities also offer scholarships and bursaries for domestic and international students. It’s worth checking with the admissions tutors at the university you want to study whether financial support is available.
Completing a Masters of Law goes beyond undergraduate level of knowledge and allows individuals to emphasise their commitment and knowledge of the law. This is particularly important in the highly competitive field and helps to increase individuals’ employability.
It also offers immense networking opportunities through the university’s careers centre, law societies and visiting representatives from different firms.
while studying, you can also take advantage of internship opportunities open to graduates to gain experience in the industry and develop important legal skills.
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