Ben Maples  · Dec 5th 2023

For those looking for a more specialised kind of Law degree and looking to gain an insightful knowledge of more specific subjects should consider the LLM.


There are a wide variety of Law degrees and qualifications available to those who wish to study them, however, for those who are looking for more specialist information in different areas, the LLM is an invaluable qualification to have.

The LLM is taught throughout the world, though it has different meanings elsewhere, and is generally considered to be one of the foremost methods of researching more specialised legal practices and methods.

Cambridge LLM

What is LLM?

An LLM is a postgraduate degree in Law and can only be undertaken if you have an undergraduate degree in Law (or a related subject), professional law degree or an academic law degree. It is taught in a similar way to the MA and the MSc.

The term LLM stands for Legum Magister, which is Latin for “Master of Laws” and is a non-professional qualification. It is known for some universities to also require students to have passed the LNAT or taken the Common Professional Examination (CPE) prior to applying for the qualification.

The LLM is mainly used as a means of obtaining specialist information in certain areas of Law. It is insufficient when applying to become a Solicitor or a Barrister, as you will need to pass the Bar Exam beforehand or the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Diploma in Legal Practice in Scotland.

An LLM is often thought of, in educational circles, as being similar to that of an MBA, as it provides the student with supplementary knowledge for a career, for example, an Engineer could study the LLM as a means of understanding intellectual property or patents better in their line of work and can be an invaluable means of progressing your career prospects.

How long is the LLM?

This depends on how long you study the course for. For those that are studying the LLM full-time, will generally be able to complete the qualification within a year, this will generally involve two teaching terms, which is then followed by a further period of time (the period is at the discretion of the university you are studying at) for your dissertation.

Those that are studying the LLM as part of a part-time degree or a distance learning course will be taking the qualification over two years instead.

It is possible for the course to last longer in both cases if there is additional content for the course, especially if the course is combined with another legal qualification or if you are doing a research-based LLM.


Which countries award the LLM?

The LLM is an international degree, however, the structure is different depending on the country you're studying in and the university you are attending.

The LLM is recongnised by all English-language university systems, however it comes down to the actual university to make the decision as to whether or not the qualification is offered.

The Bologna Process recongises the LLM, however, the status and importance varies from country-to-country and is dependent on a number of factors. It is best to speak to your university about the qualification before you decide to study it in this case.

The LLM is also offered in Asia as universities in the country begin to adopt more common Western degrees, although in Asia, the LLM is considered to be an academic degree, rather than a professional one.

What is the difference between JD and LLM?

The Juris Doctor is a graduate-entry professional degree. Typically, the JD is offered in the US and not in the UK, though it is possible to sit the qualification in Australia and Canada. There is no UK-equivalent to the JD.

The JD is a degree designed for people to begin their legal education and is an entry-level qualification, whereas the LLM is designed primarily for the purpose of advancing an individual’s existing knowledge.

How many credits is the LLM worth?

The credits for the LLM are:

Credit System Points/Level
CATS 180
AQF Level 9
SCH 26

An LLM is usually treated in the same way as a Master’s degree in terms of CATS Credits, but it is recognised differently under the ECTS.

Durham LLM

Do I have to do a dissertation for the LLM?

Most LLM’s require you to have completed a dissertation in some form, which will be on a legal topic of your choosing.

When it comes to your dissertation, you will be assigned a supervisor to look over your research and to help guide you. You will be responsible for the overall planning, managing and the completion of the task.

Your dissertation is usually examined as a piece of written work, however, it has been known for people to have to complete oral defences or oral pieces of work to compliment the dissertation that you have written.

What are the entry requirements for the LLM?

The university entry requirements will change depending on the university you apply to and will also depend on the UCAS Tariff Points you achieve.

However, for the most part, the LLM requires that students already have an existing Law degree, whether it be a normal undergraduate degree, the aforementioned LPC or the GDL.

As the LLM is not only intended for those with a Law background and is often reserved for people that are looking to learn more about the law or a specific branch of law, then you may be required to have a similar degree or professional experience prior to submitting your application.

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