The Master of Laws (LLM) Degree – A Guide |

The Master of Laws (LLM) Degree – A Guide

Written by Mark Bennett

The LLM (Master of Laws) is an advanced postgraduate Law qualification. If you’re a law graduate interested in more advanced training or a legal professional looking to specialise in a specific branch of judicial theory, you may wish to consider an LLM qualification.

Below is a simple overview of the LLM degree, covering course content, applications and funding.

What is an LLM?

The LLM is a Masters in Law which is a non-professional qualification that provides advanced training in specialised legal areas. Most are taught degrees, but some courses may have research elements. You do not need an LLM qualification to practice law, however it may make you more attractive to hiring law firms.

You may also chose to study an LLM to work in business or management positions where you will need a strong understanding of economic or corporate law.

Master of Laws (LLM) - An Overview
Type Taught / Research
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 1-2 years
Credit Value 180 CATS / 90-120 ECTS

LLM entry requirements

Most applicants for an LLM will have an existing Law degree, such as an LLB (Bachelors of Laws) or a GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law). However, you may have similar qualifications or experience in similar subjects such as business or economics.

Most universities will ask that you hold at least a 2:1 degree or be able to provide strong references and evidence relevant work experience.

What type of LLM qualification should I do?

LLMs can cover a broad range of subjects so check with your university as to what modules they teach. Some common areas of law include:

  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Tax Law

Some universities also offer LLMs in conjunction with Legal Practice Courses (LPCs) or Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) training courses. Both of these are an important step towards becoming a qualified solicitor.

Where can I study an LLM?

The LLM is a common international qualification that is highly transferrable and can be studied world-wide.

Some universities in Europe may offer similar law qualifications which could be academically taught or offer a more vocational focus.

What does LLM study look like?

LLMs are typically taught courses that follow a similar format to other Masters degrees, such as the MA and MSc.

A full-time LLM typically lasts for one year and involves two teaching terms followed by a research period for your dissertation. Assessment will normally be based on written coursework assignments and your final dissertation. Although less common, exams may also be required.

Will I qualify as a solicitor or a barrister?

An LLM will not qualify you as a solicitor or a barrister. To become a solicitor you must complete a Solicitors Qualifications Exam (which can sometimes be taken alongside an LLM) and complete two years of legal work experience.

In order to become a barrister, you’ll need to complete a Bar course and pupillage to practice.

How to apply for an LLM

Applications should be made directly to the institutions that you’re interested in studying at. Each university will detail their specific processes and guidelines.

It’s likely you’ll need to provide:

  • A personal statement
  • An academic or professional reference
  • Degree transcripts
  • Academic writing samples

Funding an LLM

The cost of an LLM can vary between course, subject and institution. In the UK, LLM tuition is typically between £9,000 - £13,000, or up to £19,000 for international students.

If you’re a UK student, you’ll be eligible to take out a postgraduate loan from the government. Your university may also offer scholarships or bursaries. You can read more about funding a postgraduate degree on our website.

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Last updated: 06 October 2023