Masters degrees in Law focus on the advanced study of legal theory and practice. They include academic LLM (Master of Laws) degrees as well as professional training and preparation courses.
Academic courses such as the LLM do not normally qualify students to practice law. Instead they offer the chance to specialise in a given area such as Contract Law, Criminal Law or Property Law.
Other postgraduate law qualifications are accredited professional courses. The BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) prepares students to practice as barristers, whilst the LPC (Legal Practice Course) is part of the training required by solicitors.
Entry requirements for postgraduate law degrees will vary. An LPC or BPTC will require an existing LLB (or equivalent). Students without an undergraduate law degree can still apply for academic programmes such as the LLM, or take a Law Conversion Course such as the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) to prepare for an LPC or BPTC.
Why study a Masters in Law?
The obvious employment pathway for law postgraduates is to enter the legal profession as solicitors or barristers. Such work can be exciting and rewarding, but you will need to ensure that your course is correctly accredited and that you complete any additional training before you can practice.
Professional opportunities also exist for postgraduates who don't wish to complete the full training required of solicitors and barristers. You could work within a law firm as a legal clerk or paralegal, assisting with routine work as well as high profile cases.
An academic Masters in Law (such as the LLM) won't qualify you for legal practice on its own, but help you specialise when combined with other qualifications - potentially leading to a professional career in a specific legal field. Alternatively, you could pursue a career in academic and theoretical law, helping inform future justice policy and analyse the effectiveness of legal systems.