We spoke to Deborah Regal, a former student at the University of London, to find out more about what it’s like to study an LLM via distance learning...
Why did you decided to study an LLM?
As a businesswoman, law is important to me. Commercially, I need to know where I stand in negotiations – the quicker I understand my position, the more agile I can be in my responses. But also as a citizen, I had a real passion for understanding the relationship between myself, and between others, and with the State, and – for that matter – the relationship between States. I wanted to get an insight into how society has changed, and how it has evolved, through my understanding of legal changes. The University of London LLM is a deeply thought-provoking, comprehensive course – offering the highest quality jurists as thought leaders.
What made you choose to do it via distance learning?
I work full-time, I am a mother of 2 young sons and I also carry out extensive voluntary work; my schedule is fairly heavy. Nevertheless, if you are determined, I firmly believe you can do anything. I knew I wanted to study law at the University of London, because of its academic standing in this field. Distance learning allowed me to be in control – I remained my own master. I could draw on top class resources all from the comfort of my home. I would not have been able to attend evening classes, for example, but every evening I could study. It is a smart way of maximising your time. The course added to my life, it did not detract from it.
Why did you choose the University of London LLM specifically?
The University of London really does know how to deliver distance learning courses – I remain extremely impressed by their ability to fully resource their students. They are highly responsive. I chose them initially because of the evident quality of the course, and the University's history as a distance learning organisation. The LLM is also remarkable because of the breadth of subjects it offers, including very difficult courses such as Jurisprudence and Modern Legal Theory (which few law schools offer to their distance learning students). Every area of law is available: commercial; human rights; comparative law; intellectual property; maritime; youth justice. I also researched the University of London’s offering, and I learnt that many people who had gone on to bring about change in societies around the world had studied law via distance learning with them (Nelson Mandela, for instance). The course was also affordable.
Can you describe how the course worked?
It's really easy to access everything you need via the University's VLE. Their interface is always up to date, easy to use, and available day and night. Through the VLE, you can access the library and read articles from extensive journals. In addition to the VLE, the course is provided in hard copy. There is no set teaching process apart from the course structure itself in the University of London's self-authored guides. If you start at the beginning and work methodically through all the chapters, answer all the exercises, cross-check your answers, read as widely as possible from the lists provided, and memorise everything, you are in a good position for examination. But I'd like to stress, the LLM course is an intellectual delight; it is a truly stimulating postgraduate course. Its level of instruction is excellent, and cutting edge in the field of law.
How much contact did you have with tutors and fellow students?
I interacted with other students occasionally (for example, when we were trying to draw together our various resources into note format). I clarified a few points via the VLE online question tool, and always got a fast response from the academic units. Everything you need – and more – is provided in the course material. I always felt spoilt because so much was provided!
What did you enjoy about the course?
I enjoyed its academic vigour, and its current insights into the evolving law in my areas. It is an intellectual delight, written by top lawyers, and supported very well by extensive resources. I did not have to waste time trekking around libraries, for example. The University of London's LLM is outstanding because it puts the student first, and really caters to what the students’ needs are. I studied comparative law and I really enjoyed the training on research methods. I also enjoyed preparing for the examinations – which is a skill in itself – and being put to the test.
What parts didn’t you enjoy as much?
I can honestly say I enjoyed it all!
How has the course helped you so far?
I got head-hunted by a competitor firm shortly after completing the LLM. They recognised its value – and yes, I increased my earnings because of it. The LLM has directly benefited my career. I feel that I am better equipped to understand legal issues at a deeper level. Even now I push myself daily to understand more about law – because I know I am capable of learning if something is well explained. I am more confident and engaged with law as a result, and I am very grateful to the University of London for this.
What are you hoping to do in the future?
I want to build businesses and extend my voluntary work even further. The course has shown me that if I set out to pursue a goal and resource myself properly, then I can achieve it. I am also completing my PhD. I expect to work into my 80s, and I am therefore continuing to equip myself with as many skills as possible.
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