Students study for the LL.M. for many reasons. Most want to develop their knowledge and understanding of law. Others want to experience another legal system, others to specialise in particular areas of law. All want intellectual stimulation; and all want to improve their career prospects whether in practice, in academia, in government service. The Cambridge LL.M. offers all these things. It is one of the most highly respected LL.Ms in the world. It is rigorous and intellectually demanding. It is taught by some of the finest academics; and it is studied by students who are the best in their generation.
If you come to study for the LL.M. you will be joining an elite group of students who go on to excel in their chosen profession, as leading academics, practitioners and judges. In difficult market conditions, employers value the skills that a Cambridge LL.M. offers. For those wanting to go on to careers in research, a Cambridge LL.M. provides an excellent foundation.
Cambridges Law Faculty was rated 5* in the 2001 RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and in the top cohort for the 2008 RAE. It consistently receives excellent in its teaching reviews. The university itself ranks as the best in the world.
Law has been taught at Cambridge since the fourteenth century. Giants of the common law have all taught at Cambridge: Maitland, Winfield, Jolowicz, Glanville Williams, de Smith, Milsom and many others.
The Faculty of Law now has approximately 80 teaching members, including 17 professors (which in the UK is an accolade awarded only to those at the top of their profession) and 7 readers. In addition, the Faculty invites a scholar of international distinction to be the Goodhart Professor for the year. Recent holders of the post have included Jane Ginsburg , Sir Robin Auld, Silvana Sciarra, Martti Koskenniemi, Cheryl Saunders and Paul Finn. They participate in the LL.M. programme by offering specialised courses.
Almost every area of legal interest is represented, ranging from international law to legal philosophy, European Union law to criminology, intellectual property to legal history. There are around 740 undergraduates and 250 postgraduate students in the Faculty.
The LL.M. provides a rich, intellectual environment in which students can develop their interests. Students take four papers in total. They have the option of specialising in commercial, European or international law, or of taking a combination of papers from these areas and/or from the substantial range of papers in other areas of the law. Students who take at least three papers in one of these areas receive a designation to their LL.M., indicating the specialism pursued. Whilst a large number of students opt to specialise, particularly in commercial law, a substantial proportion of students decide to take a mixture of papers. In addition, those who do opt to specialise frequently take a paper outside their specialism alongside the three within it.
While many students know in advance which papers they would like to take, the Faculty does not require students to express that decision in advance. Students can attend a subject forum (sometimes jokingly called the beauty parade) on the first day of term where course convenors talk about their courses. Students are then permitted to attend various courses over the first week or so before deciding which suits them best.
Each year there are approximately twenty-five courses on offer in the LL.M. Those subjects designated as seminars are examined by means of an 18,000 word thesis only. While most of the courses offered in 2011-2012 will run in 2012-2013, a few changes in the list are made from one year to the next and the Faculty cannot therefore guarantee that all subjects will be offered. The Faculty usually publishes a list of the available papers for the following academic year in January, with the final list normally available by the end of June.
Candidates generally have a free choice of papers from those prescribed although there may be unavoidable timetable clashes and certain combinations of papers may be prohibited.
Candidates who offer at least three papers from those listed under international law, commercial law or European law topics (or a thesis in lieu of one of them) will have the letter '(i)', '(c)' or '(e)' respectively placed against their name in the class list to indicate that they specialised in that subject. Please refer to the Form and Designation of Examination page for specific information.
An LL.M. Subject Forum is held at the beginning of each academic year to help current LL.M. students decide which courses to take. Course convenors for each course discuss the goals and objectives of their course. These presentations are available online to listen to or read.
The LL.M. course is conducted in English through a mixture of lectures, seminars and small group teaching. For subjects with fewer than 15 students, teaching will normally be conducted through interactive seminars, usually one two-hour seminar a week. For larger subjects, in most cases lectures (again usually 2 hours a week) are supplemented by 4-6 hours of small group teaching. Given that this is a postgraduate level course, the Faculty considers that students benefit from the interaction with their peers from a range of backgrounds, both civil and common law. Even in larger subjects, there is space for student participation in the lectures. The seminars and all group classes will be based on reading lists circulated prior to the classes.
The method of assessment for each course is typically a three-hour written examination at the end of the academic year (late May/early June). These exams might be open book (where all relevant materials can be taken into the exam) or closed book (no material apart from materials specified by the examiner can be taken into the exam). In some courses, students have the option of taking a two-hour examination and submitting a short written essay.
In seminar papers students are examined through a (compulsory) supervised thesis. In addition, in many of the LL.M. courses, there is also the option of writing a thesis in lieu of the examination. A candidate whose topic is approved for a thesis will be entitled to a prescribed amount of individual supervision from a Faculty supervisor. Students can, however, write only one thesis and their chosen topic cannot overlap substantially with material covered in another course.
The minimum entry requirement for the LL.M. is normally a First class degree in law from a UK university, or the equivalent from an overseas institution. For overseas students this typically means they will have placed in the top 5-10% of their class.
Students who are currently undertaking legal studies can apply before completing their degree. Successful applicants in this category likely will have academic conditions attached to their offer. If your offer is subject to academic conditions, to join the LL.M. in October the Faculty of Law and the Board of Graduate Studies must receive final evidence of your having met the conditions by the end of July of the same year. If your results only become available after that date, you cannot be admitted to the LL.M. course.
The LL.M. Admissions Committee does consider applications from those with a non-Law first degree, provided that in addition to their degree they have either substantial relevant professional legal experience or have obtained a professional legal qualification with the equivalent of a First Class result. However, a first degree in Law is the preferred preparation for the Cambridge LL.M.
If you have not carried out your prior academic work in English you will need to take a language proficiency test to show you have the necessary command of the language to get the most out of your course. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the university's preferred test. Where the IELTS test is not available you may take the Princeton TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language). If you do this, you must take the Test of Written English (TWE) at the same time.
For all law courses, including the LL.M., the IELTS minimum overall score is 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in the reading component and 7.0 in each other element. For the TOEFL the minimum score is 630 or 267 in the computer-based test, plus 5.0 TWE. The minimum score in the internet based TOEFL test is 110.
No work experience is required.
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