Since I have completed my first two weeks as a PG Laws student, I have had a chance to see how my reasons for enrolling match the reality of study. I have four principle reasons for enrolling. One is the quite common goal of pursuing a new career path. The other three might be unique and personal. I am studying law to improve my verbal skills, develop special knowledge of European history, and to reduce stress.
When my study materials arrived, it gave me a chance to dive into my course in Western European Legal History. The study skills materials that the university sends to new students are comprehensive and very helpful. My packet included the three books of essential reading for Foundations: Roman and canon law 500 -1100, the course study guide and the PG Laws handbook.
You might have heard that law school can be stressful. The Master of Laws (LLM) Skills Guide addresses that head on with some great tips for managing the challenges of postgraduate study. Ironically, I enrolled in the program to relax. That might sound funny but it is true. My professional life is incredibly stressful and the career change I would like to make requires the skills I expect to develop during my study. Other things, like structure, narrowly focusing on interesting and relevant content, and the opportunity to a do a great deal of writing and research brings a high degree of stress relief. For me, this opportunity to break the challenges of a career transition and skills development into manageable pieces that I can take control of helps me cope with stress.
Besides thinking over how to tackle stress and a career change, one of the things I did, while deciding to enrol in a postgraduate course of study, was to sit a graduate school admission test common in the USA. The tests would be required for the US schools I considered for postgraduate study, and I wondered if I had the maths skills needed for international management courses. In another ironic moment, when I got the test results, my maths skills were in the highest percentile but my verbal skills score was quite a bit lower. While my maths aptitude has been noted as my greatest strength on several occasions, I find writing and research more interesting and enjoyable. The test results also explained why these tasks are challenging for me. Research and writing is important to me personally and professionally, so finding a program where I can significantly develop verbal skills is a very high priority. For me, the PG Laws programme offers the best mix of courses and specializations requiring maths and verbal skills.
Another significant opportunity with the University of London PG Laws programme is the opportunity to gain credentials progressively, like a PG Certificate and PG Diploma, while working towards the LLM degree. In addition, students can develop areas of specialization in legal studies. Initially, I thought I would pursue specializations in International Management and Environmental Law because of the impact it will have on my career. By the time I selected my course, I decided to enrol in the Western European Legal History module, a course that requires ‘the skills of an historian and a lawyer’, as the study guide describes it. This course interests me the most and offers the chance to engage in research relating to a personal project and my fledgling career change. I am not sure what area to pursue as a second specialization just yet.
That is a lot of information about how I arrived in the PG Laws Programme! I looked at perhaps a dozen graduate programs in several areas of study in the USA and in the UK. This programme meets all of my professional and academic needs, and perhaps, more importantly, offers the best opportunity to pursue my personal interests and goals. I have had my nose in one law book or another for the past two weeks. It already feels like my research and organizational skills have improved – and I know my stress level is much more manageable.
Caowrites has just enrolled in the Postgraduate Laws Programme. She previously earned a BA English degree and blogged regularly about her experience. She studies by distance learning in the United States.