Law has been studied and taught at Queens since 1845. The years since have seen many changes and challenges for lawyers in Belfast. Legal and political developments have drawn their interest to law throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as to the distinctive aspects of the Northern Irish legal system. In more recent years the impact of globalisation has led Queens, in common with law schools throughout Europe, to a growing interest in European, international and comparative law.
Legal research at Queen’s has international, national and local dimensions. Though Northern Ireland has its own separate legal system and a unique relationship with the Westminster Parliament, the close similarities between much of the law of Northern Ireland and that of England and Wales make it possible to carry out research which simultaneously serves both local needs and, very importantly, contributes to national scholarship. With the recent striking globalisation and Europeanisation of Law, it is no longer possible to carry out research work which ignores the wider international context of law. Therefore, at Queen’s we fully encourage and support the student who is interested in the international jurisdiction, or the international legal problem. We are keen to hear from potential students who are interested in studying either on one of our taught postgraduate courses. Note that a good first degree in law is usually required for entry to this programme, though relevant legal experience may be considered.
Taught postgraduate degrees are not identical to undergraduate programmes: there is no constant stream of lectures to fill the day. Instead, contact is usually through seminars which may be held on a weekly or twice weekly basis. Taught courses are more supportive to the student, and develop their confidence in doing advanced work through to a final position where - with the LLM degree - the student can carry out independent research. Thus our LLM's require students to produce a dissertation of around 15,000 to 20,000 words on an original topic. It is not uncommon for work carried out on the LLM programme to be published, and certainly students should aim for a publishable standard if at all possible. Less demanding courses are those at the Diploma level. These operate with the same weekly or bi-weekly seminars, but are usually examined in the traditional manner.
Staff in the School of Law at Queens pursue a broad and diverse research agenda which is reflected not just in the production of books and academic journal articles but also through commissioned research, policy papers and contributions to the media.
The School houses a strong and dynamic postgraduate community. Postgraduate education is an integral part of the life of the School. Programmes are delivered via small, supportive group teaching.