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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

What is an LLM degree?

The field of law offers a wide variety of specialist areas and fields of enquiry. An LLM degree gives you the perfect opportunity to specialise and explore these options.

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If you’re an aspiring lawyer of the future and have been researching your study options, you would have come across an LLM degree. Now admittedly law degrees can have quite a few abbreviations and designations that make it slightly confusing. This is also true of the areas of specialisation in law that you can study. What we thought would be useful, especially if you’re aiming to study law, is to dispel all of the misconceptions of what an LLM degree is. We take you through what sets the qualification apart, what you can expect to study and where the degree can take you. 


What defines an LLM degree?


An LLM degree, also known as a Master of Laws, is a postgraduate qualification that allows you to focus on a specialist area of the law. The degree can be studied by both recent law graduates, graduates from a related field and those practising as lawyers. The degree aims to enhance both academic and practical knowledge to enhance professional practice and research. 


LLM degrees usually take one year to complete on a part-time basis and can also be studied full-time over two to three years. The degree is usually a taught course with focused modules and a final smaller research project. Most LLM qualifications will assess you using a combination of coursework, examinations and written assignments.  


Take some time out to research the postgraduate law qualifications at these UK universities:



What types of LLM degrees are there?


Which LLM you choose will depend on what your aims and objectives are. There are LLM qualifications that offer an overview of law specialisations, often called an LLM Law. However, there LLM degrees that are specifically structured to focus on law specialisations that include:


  • Human rights law
  • Environmental law
  • Criminal law
  • Maritime law 
  • Business law 
  • Contract law
  • Family law
  • Health law
  • Financial law


If you decide to study an LLM be ready to get to grips with many theoretical aspects of the law. You’ll be asked to make connections between this theory and practical implementation to solve complex legal issues. 


Explore your law study options at these universities in Canada:



What is the difference between an LLM and LLB degree?


For many, this can be a grey area. But there are definite differences between an LLB and LLM degree. Firstly, an LLB, or Legum Baccalareus, is an undergraduate qualification that puts you on the path to become a practising lawyer. In some countries, you will also need to have taken a three-year undergraduate degree before being able to enrol for an LLB. 


To study for an LLM degree, you must have completed an undergraduate qualification, such as an LLB. Admission to an LLM will also consider qualifications from related fields. What’s important to remember is that an LLM qualification does not automatically qualify you to practice law. You would still need to have either an LLB or a Juris Doctor.


Find out about the benefits of becoming a lawyer and the different types of law specialisations


What will you study for an LLM degree?


When you study an LLM you will be asked to choose both a particular area of interest and related modules. Universities will have different ways of structuring their curriculum, but, all will encourage you to plan your programme carefully before commencing. Don’t forget that the modules you choose must add up to the required credits for completion of the degree.


Let’s turn our attention to some of the modules you may have the option to study in an LLM which includes:


  • Dispute resolution
  • Corporate finance
  • Principles international law
  • Human rights
  • International criminal law
  • Energy law
  • International trade law
  • Legal theory
  • Patent law
  • Insurance law
  • Privacy, data and surveillance law
  • Law of treaties


These are by no means the only areas of specialisation that you can study, so it’s always a good idea to request a prospectus from the university you are keen on or pay a visit to their website. You could also chat to a university’s international office or speak to an education counsellor for greater clarity too.  


We know you’re probably also wondering about which universities have the top law schools. Well, we have the answer as to the best law schools in the USA and the top law schools in the UK.


What can you do with an LLM degree?


If you qualify with an LLM you’re going to be equipped with specialist law knowledge and skills. Your career path may depend on whether you had already qualified as a lawyer before your LLM or not. If you have qualified as a lawyer an LLM will open professional doors and career opportunities in your area of interest. Some of the roles you may take up include:


  • Solicitor
  • Barrister / attorney
  • Legal consultant
  • Legal advisor
  • Judge


You can also choose to qualify professionally as a lawyer after your LLM, which includes doing your law articles. Some roles you can fulfil with both a professional legal background or from a related field with an LLM include:


  • Academic / lecturer
  • Public servant
  • Company secretary
  • Management consultant
  • Charity worker
  • Law enforcement


Armed with your greater understanding of what an LLM degree entails you’ll probably want to take your research further. We can help with your take on the five reasons to study for a master’s degree abroad and the top 10 reasons to study abroad.  When you’re ready to further your degree research hop onto our course matcher tool.


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