Dec 17, 2021

Written By Emily Buckley

Can I do a master's in law without a law degree?

Dec 17, 2021

Written By Emily Buckley

Whether it’s a career change or simply academic ambition, there are plenty of people wanting to study law at master’s level who did not  study the subject at undergraduate level, and the University of Law (ULaw) has designed its Master of Arts in Law (MA in Law) course specifically with them in mind.   

MA in Law vs. LLM

Firstly, it is important to highlight the difference between an MA in Law and LLM programmes.

The MA has been constructed to enable a smooth transition from a non-law academic background by incorporating a pre-course module on legal methods. As an internationally recognised credential, it can be an impressive string to add to your bow in the eyes of future employers; it features many transferrable aptitudes alongside exclusively legal ones, such as critical evaluation, research and presentation skills. Consequently, the MA is attractive to recruiters in both legal and non-legal industries, so it can be seen as a future-proof career investment.

Meanwhile, the LLM (or Legum Magister, which is Latin for Master of Laws) is more commonly undertaken by students with a law degree (LLB), a law conversion like the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or those with relevant legal work experience. This route is well-established and requires you to show a genuine and enduring commitment to the law sector. As such, there are more specialised LLM courses – beyond the General option – like Environment Law, Corporate Governance and International Human Rights Law, for those who know exactly where they want to take their legal careers. 

The LLM is not essential  to becoming a solicitor or barrister, but it is impressive to firms and chambers due to the superior training and expertise students receive, and can help boost industry contacts.


MA in Law requirements

Course entry conditions are another ??way of seeing which is an appropriate fit. For the MA in Law, at least a 2:1 in an undergraduate degree is required – which can be in any discipline – or overseas equivalent.

International students hoping to become solicitors through this route are asked to send their qualifications to ULaw’s admissions team to discern their eligibility, whilst aspiring barristers need to apply to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) for a Certificate of Academic Standing. Additionally, if an applicant’s first language is not English, they will need proof of an English Language level equal to IELTS 6.5, and a minimum of 6.0 in each component. 

Tuition fees for the MA cost between £11,150 to £13,500 for UK students and £13,200 to £15,700 for non-domestic students, depending on the location. Postgraduate loans of up to £11,570 are available from Student Finance, or a £2,000 or full-fee award from ULaw’s Career Changer Scholarship, for those retraining in a new occupation. 


Commitment to success

So, while it is possible for you to enrol in the MA in Law, you will undoubtedly want to figure out your chances of thriving on the course! The time you can dedicate to your studies is a crucial factor in this, particularly as the course is intensive and students are expected to get to grips with complex ideas and retain a vast knowledge base in a short timeframe. Those on the MAl also need to engage with a cycle of self-guided learning that covers preparation assignments, workshops and online tasks, plus follow-up consolidation activities.

The good news is that workshop and lecture schedule options are flexible. If you want face-to-face classes and can study full time, you can complete the course in nine months at Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, Leeds, Liverpool, London Bloomsbury and Moorgate, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham campuses. In-person weekend sessions are also available on a part-time basis over two years at Birmingham, Guildford, London Bloomsbury, Manchester and Nottingham. 

Alternatively, you can take the course online –  over 12 months or two years – this could be a great option for those needing to fit their studies around a job, or even some legal work experience to help make an informed decision about a career switch-up. Students will need to do the pre-course work on legal methods before the MA starts, which takes about 40 hours.