Case study

Why study an LLB law degree? — The University of Law

An LLB and an MLaw will give you the foundations needed to build a successful law career. Learn about their differences and discover what makes courses at the University of Law unique

Victoria Weir is the programme and student lead for undergraduate programmes. After working in art galleries for ten years she studied the GDL conversion course before completing her Bar training at the Inns of Court School of Law. She specialises in property law, which has led to her teaching land law for many years but she sometimes gets called upon to teach family and public law.

What is an LLB law degree and an MLaw?

The LLB is a shorthand name for the undergraduate law programme Bachelor of Law. Most students studying law at university are likely to be enrolled on an LLB programme. As part of our degree, you will study a range of core subject areas and optional subjects, which will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to build a successful career in the law.

The MLaw degree is an integrated Masters degree. In many ways the first three years are the same as the LLB and you will study the same core subjects. The difference comes when you choose optional subjects because there are specific options which you must choose, and what happens at the end of the three-year period.

Students enrolled on the LLB will complete their degree after three years and will then choose whether they wish to continue with their studies and take the steps they need to qualify as either a solicitor or a barrister, or to pursue another career or even further academic study.

For those enrolled on the MLaw, at the end of year three you will continue with an additional year of study to prepare you to sit the SQE 1 exams, which are the compulsory assessments for anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. Another difference is that students enrolled on the MLaw programme are required to sit specific options, which will prepare them for the SQE assessment.

All graduates from the LLB programme can go on to sit the SQE if they wish (and at ULaw we offer a range of courses to help students prepare for these assessments) but the MLaw means that provided you pass all your assessments as you work through your degree you can pass seamlessly on to the SQE 1 programme. As the MLaw is an integrated Masters, it means your undergraduate loan can be extended from three years to four and used to pay for your Masters qualification and SQE Part 1 preparation.

What are the courses' unique selling points?

First and foremost is our emphasis on practical law. We teach the law that you need to know to support clients in your future role as a solicitor or barrister and all our teaching focuses on helping you develop those skills.

Teaching is delivered in a very structured way with emphasis on our workshops, where students work in small groups facilitated by a tutor. We follow a model of teaching called PEC, which stands for Prepare, Engage and Consolidate and students are given structured tasks and reading to help them prepare for the teaching sessions before coming to class to engage and put their learning in to practice.

Beyond the design of our courses is the fact that the vast majority of tutors are qualified lawyers. This means that they can bring their subject to life and explain how the law which is being taught in the classroom is used to help people resolve their issues in real life. Our emphasis on teaching means that students are the absolute focus of the staff, and our sole aim is to support our students to get the best results that they can.

Finally, what makes a degree at ULaw unique is that our primary focus is on law and legal training. So, you are studying at an institution which will be teaching lawyers at every level of their studies from students just starting out on their degrees, to those at the end of their legal training about to start their careers. In fact, we have trained more practising lawyers than anyone else in the UK and we are the largest provider of legal education in the UK.

What type of student would suit this course?

The LLB at the University of Law is perfect for anyone who has an interest in law and wider society and who may be interested in studying in a supportive but challenging environment. Whether or not our students end up pursuing a career in law, we know that the skills and knowledge that you acquire will be beneficial for any route you take in the future.

In terms of qualities that make a good student, I think the first thing is curiosity. You need a questioning and enquiring mind. You need to have resilience. A degree is a marathon, not a sprint and during the course of three (or four) years of study you will undoubtedly face challenges. Our most successful students are those who have been able to overcome challenges. Attention to detail and the ability to gather information from a range of sources is a key skill you will need and of course, a desire to learn.

What skills and knowledge does an LLB equip students with?

Our LLBs equip our students with the skills and knowledge they will need to excel in a professional career.

You will study a range of subjects, which will provide you with a strong foundation on which to build your legal career. Core subjects include public law, which looks at the composition of our state and the relationship between citizens and the state. If this is a topic that interests you there is the opportunity to extend this by choosing our human rights module as an option. Land law looks at all aspects of land ownership in England and Wales and again this knowledge can be developed further by choosing our real estate module, which looks at the process for buying and selling land.

In terms of skills, students will have the opportunity to develop their communication skills across a range of formats from oral presentations to written work. Analysis is a key skill and so learning how to spot the issues that a client’s situation raises will develop this. Another key skill is the ability to explain complex ideas in a clear and concise way. Finally, one of the most important skills you will develop is time management.

How does the LLB help graduates to progress their career?

Legal knowledge is an essential part of the SQE assessment, and our degree is intended to equip you with much of the knowledge you need to be successful in the SQE.

But our degree is not just about classroom learning. Embedded into our curriculum are employability sessions, which help students to prepare for the recruitment process by offering CV writing workshops, tips on securing work experience placements and how to approach applications for vacation schemes.

Regular employer talks allow students to develop their networking skills and to acquire commercial awareness. We also have a thriving pro bono department where students can put in to practice the skills and knowledge they have developed while helping those who may not be able to afford legal assistance.

Finally, we offer a range of extra-curricular activities, which are focused on students having the opportunity to further develop key legal skills such as client interviewing and mooting (a form of legal debate).

Tell us about the practical focus of the courses

From day one we aim to get our students thinking like a lawyer. So, all our teaching materials are presented in a way that enables students to see legal issues as real life problems, which real people may experience, rather than a dry academic subject. Students receive instructions from clients in the form of emails or letters. Supporting documents are presented in the form of the types of documents which lawyers would be expected to review, which may be title documents in land or articles of association in business modules. The emphasis is on students using the skills that they are being taught to analyse the issues and use the law to help resolve the problem or to provide advice on next steps. Many of our assessments take the form of portfolios where students are asked to prepare a range of documents from reports to memos or may take the form of giving advice to clients so that students are developing the written communication skills that will be required in a professional setting.

What advice do you have for anyone considering an LLB?

  • Be realistic. A career in law is incredibly rewarding but also very demanding. Do you understand what is involved? Many of us enjoy court-based dramas on TV and this shapes our view of what life as a lawyer is like but it is not very realistic. Work experience can help give an insight into the everyday life of a lawyer and can help confirm this is the degree for you.
  • Be prepared. Law is all around us and the types of issues that we discuss in class come up every day. Start to develop the curiosity you need to be a good lawyer by reading newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian. Listen to the news on the radio and try and find radio programmes such as Law in Action where contemporary legal issues are discussed.
  • Plan ahead. Recognise that if you are studying full time you need to be able to dedicate full time hours to your study. Think about how you are going to meet your living expenses through the year and think about what you can do ahead of time to minimise the number of hours you need to work during term time.
  • Go for it. The law is a fascinating topic and touches every aspect of our lives. It is intellectually challenging but incredibly stimulating. It is not just for would be lawyers, anyone hoping to secure a professional career at the end of their degree can benefit from the skills, knowledge and experience that a law degree offers.

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