Teaching and assessment

Method of teaching

The LLM Programme is conducted in English through a mixture of lectures, seminars and small group teaching. For subjects with fewer than 15 students, teaching will normally be conducted through interactive seminars, usually one two-hour seminar a week. For larger subjects, in most cases lectures (again usually 2 hours a week) are supplemented by 4-6 hours of small group teaching. Given that this is a postgraduate level course, the Faculty considers that students benefit from the interaction with their peers from a range of backgrounds, both civil and common law. Even in larger subjects, there is space for student participation in the lectures. The seminars and all small group classes will be based on reading lists circulated prior to the classes.

Method of assessment

The method of assessment for each course is typically a three-hour written examination at the end of the academic year (late May/early June). These exams might be open book (where all relevant materials can be taken into the exam) or closed book (no material apart from materials specified by the examiner can be taken into the exam). In some courses, students have the option of taking a two-hour examination and submitting a short written essay.

In seminar courses students are examined through a (compulsory) supervised thesis. In addition, in many of the LLM courses, there is also the option of writing a thesis in lieu of the examination. A candidate whose topic is approved for a thesis will be entitled to a prescribed amount of individual supervision from a Faculty supervisor. Students can, however, write only one thesis and their chosen topic cannot overlap substantially with material covered in another course.

Students receive their results and graduate at the end of June/early July.

LLM students from civil law backgrounds

The LLM is an advanced course intended for law graduates, not an introduction to the common law. Many students coming from a non-common law background successfully complete the LLM, but any candidate who is new to the common law and who is taking papers which have a strong common law element should be prepared to do supplementary work before attending, or during the course, since the course is taught and examined on the basis that students are familiar with the case-law method and with the basic mechanics of the common law. Students considering whether the common law method is for them might consider attending the English Legal Methods summer course run by Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education.  In addition, the Faculty's inducation programme for LLM students includes support for civil law students.

Halfway through the first term the Faculty offers a further session considering common law methods in the light of the student experience of studying in the common law system, a session on examination technique and a session on thesis writing.

Sample timetable

You can download the current timetable to get an idea of what a typical timetable will look like, although this lists only recurrent formal lectures, not small group teaching sessions nor relevant public lectures and faculty seminars.