Attend an Open Evening

Professional Legal Skills  LLM


Students undertaking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) can convert their BPTC into an LLM in Professional Legal Skills. Our BPTC is delivered at Master's level rather than degree level, which allows you to gain an LLM by simply completing an additional dissertation after your BPTC.

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

Course Fees:

  • Full-time EU: £3,500
  • Part-time EU: £3,500
  • Full-time Non EU: £3,500
  • Part-time Non EU: £3,500

Start Date:

8 June 2017 (tbc)

How to Apply

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.

Application Deadlines

  • 21 November 2016
  • 10 April 2017

Visa Requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than 6 months
  • Students on courses of less than 6 months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

When and Where

Start Date:
8 June 2017 (tbc)
6 months (full-time) or 12 months (part-time).

Course Content

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.

Dissertation Proposal

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.


The course can be completed on either a full-time basis (submission within 6 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 timeframe.

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

Course Structure

There will be an induction day in June and throughout the year you will have regular contact points to assess your progress.

Read the full programme specification.

Teaching and Assessment


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 London facilities, including: Library services, IT support and Careers
  • advice services


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


You will continue to have full access to all The City Law School and City University London facilities, including: Library services, IT support and Careers advice services. You will also have access to all City Law School events, both School/ University led and student led.

Read the full programme specification.


  • Full-time EU: £3,500
  • Part-time EU: £3,500
  • Full-time Non EU: £3,500
  • Part-time Non EU: £3,500


For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

See our range scholarships, prizes and loans that can help you pay for your course.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.

Career Prospects

This course has been developed specifically to assist students in achieving their career aspirations. Students who have pupillage can use work on their dissertation to show their commitment to an area of practice. Students seeking pupillage or going into other areas of legal work can use the dissertation to strengthen their CV.

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.

Apply now

Please download and complete our application form and email it to

Before you submit your application, please take time to develop your proposal.  Each section of the form is marked, and you must pay sufficient attention to your title, coverage and methodology in particular. For more information about choosing and completing your dissertation proposal, please see Content & Structure.

Your dissertation proposal should be:

  • Related to the knowledge and skills required for legal professional practice in England and Wales.
  • Broadly related to the areas covered in the BVC/BPTC
  • Based on the law of England and Wales (though it may include some comparison with another jurisdiction as a minor element)

If your application is not sufficiently developed you may be asked to revise and resubmit or wait until the next application round.

Application deadlines

  • 21 November 2016
  • 10 April 2017

Need help?

If you need help with your application you can seek advice from the LLM in Professional Legal Skills Course Director, Nigel Duncan.

Nigel Duncan
Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 0352