May 27, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton and Tom Mountford

Law modules: first year

May 27, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton and Tom Mountford

If you’re looking to study law, or have confirmed your place at university already, you might be wondering what you’re going to study throughout your course. Here’s what you can expect from your first-year law modules.

What are university modules?

Teaching for most degree courses is split into modules, with each module carrying a number of credits. Over the course of three years you’ll study a combination of modules amounting to 360 credits in total, and at the end of it you’ll bag yourself a qualifying law degree. 

Modules are basically a set of classes (lectures, seminars and workshops) on the same topic. Each module will have a set of assignments you’ll have to complete in order to pass the module. Some assignments may carry more weight than others. For example, a presentation may amount to 10% of your module mark, while an essay may amount to 40% and an exam could amount to 50%.

So where do first-class marks, 2:1s, and 2:2s come into it? For each assignment, you’ll be marked out of 100. A mark of 50–59 is a 2:2, 60–69 is a 2:1, and 70 or above is a first. To pass a module you usually need to score 40.

Technically, you can get 40 in every single module at university, and this will give you a qualifying law degree. However, just coasting through your degree isn’t enough to get you a training contract. You’ll need to impress with the top marks and know how to strike a balance between work and play. 

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What law modules will I study in first year?

LLB law, unlike courses such as history or English literature, has compulsory modules across all universities. These are: Constitutional/Administrative Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Equity & Trusts, EU Law, Land Law, Public Law and Tort Law.

It’s unlikely that you’ll study all of these modules in your first year. A lot of universities, for example, will run modules on Constitutional and Administrative Law, Criminal Law and Contract Law in first year, with a couple of modules on legal skills and reasoning and how the law works in practice.

You’ll then complete the other compulsory modules in second year (Land Law, Tort Law, EU Law and Equity & Trusts).

Law modules aren’t easy, and getting your head around statutes and cases is hard enough. However difficult or boring you may find contract law, everyone has to study it—you won’t be on your own in your loathing of some law topics. 

How should I choose my other modules?

After you’ve passed your core modules, you’ll usually have some freedom of choice for the other modules you want to take. It’s important to choose the right modules, as employers in the legal sector usually request a module-by-module breakdown of your marks.

If you are planning on specialising in commercial law, this does not mean that you have to take all the commercial, corporate and business law modules going.

However, you should think carefully about the modules you opt to do. It simply wouldn’t make sense to choose modules that don’t relate to each other, such as family law, military law and medical law.

Even if you don’t know which area of law you ideally want to practise after university, or don’t even know if you want to pursue a legal career, it is still important to select your optional modules wisely.

Striking a balance in your law modules

It’s usually best to have a balanced portfolio of modules. If you definitely want to practise in a certain area, take a few relevant modules so that you can demonstrate your specific interest to potential employers.

After that, it’s a good idea to opt for a mixture of modules based on your personal interests and recommendations from friends and tutors, rather than undertaking modules solely in a bid to impress potential employers. There are a few good reasons for this!

Choosing modules that you are interested in will lead to better marks. You will engage with the subject matter better and you will be more motivated to study. If you are passionate about the module, this will also make it easier to talk about during an interview. 

Talking to friends and tutors about modules will give you a better idea of their content. You shouldn’t pick a module based on your friends saying that it’s easy or that the tutor marks leniently. It is a good idea, however, to ask around for the best (not necessarily the most lenient) seminar leaders! After all, a good seminar leader can make all the difference.

Modules from other departments

A final piece of advice: don’t be afraid to take “wild modules” in other subjects. As long as you don’t go crazy and choose too many, or select completely unrelated modules, a wild module might be of significant value.

An example of where a wild module could be useful is if you are interested in European or international law and you decide to take a module in international relations or European studies. Just make sure you check the content of the wild module to ensure that it fits in with your studies.

Although employers will be looking for evidence of interest in their area of practice, they will also be concerned about a number of other things, such as your overall marks, relevant work experience and your extra-curricular activities.

The important thing is to demonstrate your abilities across a range of modules and provide a solid reason during interviews for choosing the modules that made up your LLB. 

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LLB First Years