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City, University of London

Professional Legal Skills

Focus on an area of professional legal practice of your choice, while strengthening your knowledge and understanding of legal professional practice.

This LLM satisfies all the requirements of a traditional LLM but has a primary focus on practice. In addition to the taught classes on the BPTC the LLM gives you the chance to focus on an area of professional legal practice of your choice, while strengthening your knowledge and understanding of legal professional practice. This can be linked to pupillage to underline a commitment to a particular area, or can be used more generally to strengthen your CV.

Why City's LLM in Professional Legal Skills?

  • Develop the knowledge and skills gained from your BPTC
  • Benefit from ongoing one-to-one specialist support and expert supervision
  • Explore a specialist area of law with practitioners in that field
  • Enhance your long-term career prospects and attractiveness to employers
  • Gain an instant competitive advantage in a crowded recruitment market

This course is for students undertaking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) who would like to convert their BPTC into an LLM.

Entry requirements

You can only apply for the LLM in Professional Legal Skills if you are enrolled to undertake the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at The City Law School or if you registered to take the BPTC with us in the last five years. All students accepted will be expected to attend an Induction Day. Students will not be permitted to register on the LLM if they have 4 or more required BPTC resits at the time of registration.

Course modules

To be awarded the LLM in Professional Legal Skills you need to complete a dissertation on a personally selected topic. When you apply for the LLM you will be asked to put forward a proposal for this dissertation.

There are a wide choice of possibilities for your dissertation proposal. The key requirement is that your choice of topic must focus on knowledge and skills directly relevant to legal practice, procedure or skill. We are keen to encourage students to look at topics related to pupillage or pro bono work, but this is not essential.

It is very important that you draw up your own dissertation proposal and that it focuses on what you are most interested in as part of your developing career. Although, your supervisor will provide support and guidance the research, analysis and writing will be carried out by you. You therefore need to show that your ideas are sufficiently developed, that you have identified some issues to focus on, and that you have sufficient commitment to the work that will be required.

An idea for a dissertation proposal could arise from:

  • A topic studied on the BPTC that you would be interested in covering in greater depth and/or from a particular angle.
  • A current issue in legal professional practice raised, or issues in an area you would like to practice in
  • Applying scholarship and concepts from another discipline, such as psychology to legal professional knowledge and/or skills
  • A topic that arises in a mini pupillage or pro bono work

Topics arising from the BPTC might include:

  • An in-depth examination of a particular area of evidence or procedure, such as funding litigation, or the use of technology to present evidence in court.
  • A critical consideration of an aspect of practice, for example current practice in ADR, or the use of expert evidence
  • Analysis of how a particular skill is developed and applied in legal practice, for example comparing witness preparation in the UK and other jurisdictions, or the drafting of settlements in personal injury cases
  • A topic arising from professional conduct or ethics, such as an analysis of how key parts of the Code of Conduct work in practice
  • A topic linked to work experience, for example pro bono work

LLM students in the past have chosen topics from a variety of areas. Topics past students have chosen and have had approved include:

  • A critical appraisal of the use of structured settlements in practice
  • Balancing probabilities - mathematical and statistical insights into principles for assessing damages
  • Funding options for civil litigation in England and Wales - does money buy justice?
  • The use of logic, rhetoric and persuasion in trial advocacy
  • When is evidence of sexual orientation appropriately relevant?
  • The compatibility of the rules for the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases and the right to a fair trial
  • Are all people effectively served by the criminal justice system? The evolving roles of witnesses and victims
  • What can psychological principles tell us about the effectiveness of juries?
  • An analysis of the practical use of comparators in discrimination claims in Employment Tribunals
  • Which areas of Sharia law might realistically be incorporated into English family law cases?
  • Assessing the potential impact of the UK Bribery Act 2010.
  • Contract Damages: Does the market price rule meet current market needs?
  • How will the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court change the patent litigation landscape with regard to Non-Practicing Entities?
  • Should there be a standard classification of the role of a McKenzie Friend?
  • Evaluating experiences of domestic abuse - difficulties with victims reporting and the associated evidentiary challenges.

Developing a methodology

It is important to develop your methodology before starting your dissertation as, without a clear methodology, you can waste time following false trails and may have difficulties completing your dissertation.

When developing the methodology for your dissertation, you should consider:

  • What sort of research will be required?
  • What sort of literature search would be required? What sources are most relevant?
  • What critical framework might be appropriate to analyse material you find?
  • Might empirical research be relevant?
  • How will the topic be approached?

You may wish to carry out some empirical research for your dissertation, for example using questionnaires for members of a set of chambers, or short interviews with pro bono clients. Your supervisor will support this, so long as your plans are properly structured and any ethical considerations have been satisfactorily addressed.

Time frames

The course can be completed on either a full-time basis (submission within six months of registration) or part-time basis (submission within 12 months of registration).

You should consider how completing the dissertation will fit with other commitments and career plans. Apply when you are confident you will have time to complete your dissertation within the expected time frame.

If you are not reasonably sure you can complete your dissertation within the time frame, consider waiting until the next application round. Part time BPTC students can apply in their first or second year or later.

Assessment methods

You will need to research, write and submit a dissertation of 15-20,000 words.

The classes that you will have already completed on the BPTC provide the taught element of the course. To complete your dissertation you will need to work independently, use practitioner sources and apply law at an advanced level to solve problems whilst developing an awareness of current practice issues.

In support of your work on dissertation we provide:

  • One-to-one structured supervision
  • Web-based guidance on research, planning and writing a dissertation
  • Support for small-scale empirical research
  • Access to all The City Law School and City, University of London facilities, including: Library services, IT support and Careers
  • advice services


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Fee locale Course duration
LLM £ 4,000 () 6 12 Months

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