University of Chester

Programme Specification
Contemporary Legal Studies LLM
2014 - 2015

Master of Laws

Contemporary Legal Studies

Contemporary Legal Studies

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 Year

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Law

There are no subject benchmark statements for the Programme


Law Assessment Board

Sunday 1st April 2012

The programme is designed for students with a legal background wishing to pursue further study and research into legal topics of contemporary interest. Students completing the LLM will have become competent and independent minded and be in a position to transfer their skills and knowledge into a wide range of professional contexts within the legal sector and elsewhere.


  • To offer students an opportunity to obtain detailed knowledge and a critical awareness of current legal issues in a variety of legal areas including an opportunity to explore and obtain a conceptual understanding of connections among various legal systems and the rules of comparative law;
  • To offer a dynamic and quality postgraduate experience which will enable students to deal with complex legal (and related issues) and be able to communicate their conclusions both to specialist and non specialist audiences. The development of these attributes will be relevant to both working within the legal sector and elsewhere within the wider economy;
  • To promote sophisticated evaluation techniques so as to enable  students to develop critical, analytical and reflective approaches to the study of legal systems and the law;
  • To develop students understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship which will enable students to become autonomous and self directed scholars and researchers;
  • To provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate detailed and extensive knowledge on a specific legal question, to construct a sustained and coherent argument at length and to demonstrate a critical ability to apply appropriate research methods;
  • To create a supportive environment which will provide students with a wide range of transferable and employment-related skills which will include working collaboratively with others;

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the Law within our Legal System;
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of selected themes and issues, examined in specific areas of law;
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the range, nature and value of primary and secondary sources for the study of Law.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • Demonstrated the ability to read and use texts and other source materials both critically and empathetically while addressing content, context and perspective;
  • Demonstrated the capacity to plan, conduct and present a programme of original research;
  • Applied scholarly conventions
  • Engage in critical self reflection on their own oral and written communication skills.

Practical Skills

  • Demonstrated theskills of the researcherincluding bibliographical skills, selection and synthesis of primary and secondary sources and the ability to provide original analysis in relation to questions appropriate to the discipline.
  • Presented and disseminated their oral and written work in accordance with academic conventions

Key Skills
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

  • Demonstrated self-discipline and self-direction in their work both alone and with others, in a reasoned, persuasive andstructured way;
  • Systematically and coherently handle complex information;
  • Communicated effectively to a variety of audiences, both orally and in writing;
  • Make sound judgements in the absence of complete data;
  • Used information technology as and when appropriate;
  • Demonstrated analytical ability and the capacity to consider and solve complex problems;
  • Demonstrated intellectual integrity and maturity, empathy and insight by demonstrating they have advanced their own knowledge and understanding, and to have demonstrated the development of a range of skills to a high level.

Transferable Professional Skills

Students will have the skills necessary for employment requiring:
  • An understanding and sensitivity to the use of (legal) language in different situations.
  • Clear ability to communicate information persuasively and coherently either orally or in writing
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • Decision making in complex and unpredictable situations
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development

The PG Certificate, the PG Diploma and the LLM are target awards within this programme 

The first semester of the programme will focus partly on the development of research skills and methods.  Students will complete LA7001 Developing and Managing Research which provides students with the knowledge required to design and manage an independent research topic in the field of contemporary legal studies. Students will also however develop an appreciation of the common law tradition and how it fits into the English Legal System, through LA7003 Legal Theory in the Common Law, and more broadly with the international legal system through LA7002 Conflict of Laws.

These are all compulsory 20 credit modules and will allow students to develop and demonstrate a range of skills, knowledge and techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship. These attributes will be further developed and tested during the second semester.

The second semester will allow a choice of three specialised modules (if full time) in the areas of advocacy, tort, employment and discrimination and criminal law.  The second semester however also includes the optional module law in literature and film. It will examine and critically analyse the portrayal of legal issues in literature and film, as well as evaluating the impact of literature and film on the law. This module although not compulsory will look at issues that underpin the other four possible option choices and would therefore compliment the study of any two of the other four module choices. 

The last semester will comprise LA7009 and the research proposal which forms the assessment for LA7001 will be the basis of the dissertation to be produced in this module. Students will be able to complete their dissertation either by way of a literature based only dissertation or by also undertaking empirical research. If the proposal includes a level of empirical research then that research proposal will be submitted to the Law School Ethics Committee at the start of the second semester.

 The foundation laid during the first semester and the choices during the second semester allows a focus on research/academia, or professional skills.

Please note that option modules in this semester will not necessarily ALL run every year. The programme team consider that a minimum of 10 students is required on each of the option modules to ensure that the learning activities in the taught sessions allow students to not only demonstrate a systematic understanding of the subject area but also allows them to develop a range of skills to a high level.  

The semester-based delivery offers students taking the programme on a part-time basis a greater level of flexibility.  Students may, for example, choose to take the entire first semester of modules in their first year and the second semester modules and dissertation the following year.  Alternatively they may choose to take a different combination of modules across each semester and each year (e.g., 2+1 Year 1; 1+2 and dissertation Year 2). Students studying the LLM for CPD credits would actually be able to satisfy the annual requirement by taking one taught module per year as each taught module has over 16 hours of teaching.

A student in Legal Practice who is considering the Masters from a desire for personal and staff development, but also to meet their CPD requirements would be recommended to take the course over a minimum of 3-years in order to maximise the CPD potential of the programme and to provide a realistic achievable programme of study, whilst working full time. A possible pathway could look like:

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
LA7001 7 Developing and Managing Research 20 Comp
LA7002 7 Conflict of Laws 20 Comp
LA7003 7 Legal Theory in the Common Law 20 Comp
LA7004 7 Law in Literature & Film 20 Optional
LA7005 7 Advanced Advocacy Skills 20 Optional
LA7006 7 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Law,Justice & Evidence. 20 Optional
LA7007 7 Employment and Discrimination Law 20 Optional
LA7008 7 Personal Injury and Medical Law 20 Optional
LA7009 7 Dissertation 60 Comp

All students must complete 180 credits at Level 7 on this programme to exit with a LLM in Contemporary Legal Studies.
If a student completes 6 X 20 credit Level 7 modules on the programme (out of those modules offered in the first two semesters)they canexit with a post graduate diploma.
A student can complete 3 X 20 credit Level 7 modules on the programme (out of those modules offered in the first two semesters) and exit with a post graduate certificate.

An applicant will need a minimum of a second-class honours degree, or the equivalent, in law or a combined law degree. Alternatively a student will have either successfully completed the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) or have completed the Level 6 CILEX qualifications. Credit exemption may be given for appropriate certified or experiential learning undertaken or completed within the previous five years (in line with the University of Chester’s policy on APL/APEL).  Admission to this Programme is subject to written application and an acceptable entry qualification profile. However applicants may also be asked to provide evidence of written work, and in some instances an interview may take place.  Where the applicant is a recent graduate, the written work could take the form of an essay on an area of law which formed part of their undergraduate degree; other applicants may be invited to write a short essay (up to 1,500 words) on a current issue relating to the English Legal System.  Applicants will be qualified at IELTS level 7 or equivalent (if English is not the applicant's first language).


There are as yet no subject benchmarks for the programme. The LLM Contemporary Legal Studies will accord with the descriptor for a qualification at master's level included in the QAA's 'Framework for Higher Education Qualifications' (second edition, August 2008) and with the more detailed description of defining characteristics in the QAA's 'Master's Degree Characteristics' (March 2010), Many of the Learning Outcomes outlined in section 26 (and the educational aims of the programme) are derived from these documents.

Acquisition of core knowledge is achieved through lectures, seminars, workshops, audio-visual presentation, tutorials and private study, supplemented where appropriate by Visiting lecturers/ legal practitioners.

Essays or written problem answering; an exam or timed classroom assessment; oral presentations (in a range of formats); research proposal; dissertation.

The primary methods of assessment on the other modules will be the essay or written problem answer and dissertation.  All of the  taught modules are assessed to a large extent by essays or written problem question. This should not be regarded as a limitation, since the essay and legal problem are flexible assessment methods, allowing tutors to set different kinds of questions. 

Six modules also have an element of oral presentation in them. For example in Law in Film and Literature module it will take the form of a formal group presentation (with visual aids) to either a student audience or panel of lecturers. In LA7006 Advanced Advocacy Skills assessment will be by way of two practical 'mock' courtroom style hearings and a final critical reflection on the development of advocacy skills.

There are 5,000 words of assessment (or equivalent) allocated to each of the taught modules, while the dissertation is 15,000 words.  These word limits are within the University’s guidelines. The amount of assessment required is thus modelled on currently successful and comparable programmes, is appropriate to the discipline, and ensures parity between cognate courses.

Graduates of the Programme will have acquired a range of skills and competencies valuable to employers or their current employers if taking as part of their CPD requirements.  Those graduates who wish to continue their studies towards an MPhil or PhD will be well-equipped with both key skills and subject knowledge. 

It is also recognised that some graduates of the Programme will have taken it for pleasure and personal development rather than to enhance their employment prospects or prepare for further study.

The critical skills students will have acquired and developed will enable them to interpret, analyse, and evaluate very different types of legally related material.  They will be expert communicators, with refined expressive and listening skills, who can present, discuss, and share their ideas and the ideas of others with individuals and groups, both fluently and sensitively.  They will be highly motivated individuals who can see complex projects through from conception to completion, working well to deadlines.  They will be able to respond well to advice and guidance, but will also be autonomous learners with a self-disciplined approach to their responsibilities.  The students will have high-level researching skills and be able to apply their knowledge and research findings practically to the completion of a range of tasks, particularly if working within the legal sector

However they will also be reflective learners, with an ability to criticise their own work in a way likely to continue to help them develop their skills after graduation.  Most importantly, they will be highly organised and knowledgeable individuals capable of disciplined thought and expression, able to solve problems and overcome difficulties whether working alone or in teams.

Such skills are clearly transferable to a whole range of professional contexts but will be particularly useful for those either already working in the legal sector or for those contemplating working in this area.  Some graduates may wish to proceed to a research degree.  Others will want to apply their skills to the workplace; graduates taking the LLM as part of their SRA CPD programme will be able to use their increased knowledge and understanding of different areas of law, together with the development of a range of techniques, research methods and communication skills in a number of law related professional situations, both practical and theoretical.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Programme conforms to the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy and the appropriate Codes of Practice.  The Law School is fully committed to the support of all its students, whatever their circumstances.  Over the years, the Law School has sought advice and received training in the support of students with a wide variety of disabilities or specific needs.

Within Law, much of the subject matter naturally affords a range of cultural perspectives and this is particularly so in such modules Conflicts of Law, Law in Literature and Film and Employment and Discrimination Law. The LLM is designed to encourage students to think about the theoretical, philosophical and practical nature of law and these inherently promote the discussion of diversity and equality. Indeed, it is difficult to think of many modules that do not have some content regarding these issues.

There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Law School works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support. The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any such issues. The Law School takes an active part in the University’s Diversity Fortnight.

There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Law School works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support. The induction activities have been designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any such issues. The Law School takes an active part in the University’s Diversity Fortnight.

All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy.

Student Support and Guidance

All students are issued with a comprehensive LLM Programme Handbook and a Module Handbook at the commencement of each module.  Students needing further advice are welcome to consult the Programme Leader (who acts as the Personal Academic Tutor for students on the programme), or the Module Tutor. There is also a designated Law Librarian who is available by appointment to assist LLM students with their research of primary and secondary sources.

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