Constitutional Politics, Law and Theory (LLM)

Year of entry

2018

Start date

October 2018

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

One year full-time or two years part-time

Attendance

Two to three evenings a week full-time or one to two evenings a week part-time

This unique Master's degree in law reflects the traditional neglect of constitutionalist approaches to politics in Britain - something which is now changing fast. As the utopia of the ‘end of history’ falters, the rhetoric of security and risk, of crisis in the relation between financial markets and sovereign states, of perpetual war, and of corruption in politics brings about a relentless desire for law and constitutional reform. These expectations, however, are often at odds with the way contemporary social and political theories, and a growing number of constitutional law specialists, conceptualise the sphere of the political.

The focus is on two related but distinct processes: the crisis of law and the shift towards exceptional modes of state power; and the demand that law mitigates manifold crises. Questions are raised about law as solution, about its role in the violent imposition of liberal social and market relations, and whether or not we may be able to imagine a different sort of crisis, a different relation between law and the future.

This programme adopts a critical, interdisciplinary approach and gives equal weight to theory and comparative case studies from across the world.

Highlights

  • Studying the interrelation of law and politics requires, by definition, an interdisciplinary and critical approach - the Birkbeck School of Law specialises in this kind of approach.
  • Our School is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. It provides an exciting and innovative environment for a wide range of research with a strong theoretical and policy focus, and our academic staff have valuable experience of constitutionalist politics in regions across the globe. The School is the home of Birkbeck Law Press and publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought.
  • We use technology, such as electronic learning environments, to enhance teaching and learning. Birkbeck Library has an extensive collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines such as economics, politics and sociology. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.
  • Applicants with a strong academic background may be eligible to apply for AHRC/ESRC awards (UK and EU-based applicants only).
  • Candidates with an outstanding academic record who demonstrate high potential for strong performance on one of our Master's degrees can apply for School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards.
  • Find out more about why you should study law at Birkbeck.

Course structure

You take two compulsory modules: firstly, Introduction to the History, Theory and Politics of Constitutional Law, followed by Constitutional Law in Practice: Regional Perspectives.

You also choose four option modules, one of which may be a specialist dissertation.

Module groups

Please note that the modules listed here are indicative; not all modules will be available every year.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good second-class honours degree in law or a related discipline.

    Degrees from overseas institutions must be equivalent to a UK second-class degree.

    Other relevant qualifications and appropriate professional training and experience welcome.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £5375 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £10725 pa
    Part-time international students: £8200 pa
    Full-time international students: £16400 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Modules are taught by weekly seminars. Those choosing the dissertation option will undertake supervised research. An optional week-long, intensive comparative course in the summer term requires daily attendance.

    Key teaching staff on this programme

    The core modules are taught by research-active staff with both academic and practical experience in the public laws of the UK and a number of other regions, including those listed here:

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Final assessment for most compulsory and option modules is based on a 4000-word essay. If you choose the dissertation option, you will be required to submit a dissertation of 8000-10,000 words.

    Feedback

    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates go in to careers in local or national governments, international organisations, research institutes, public interest advocacy, or political activism. Possible professions include constitutional law expert, higher education lecturer, Civil Service administrator, or human resources officer.

    Find out more about these professions.

    Find out more advice and information about careers in law.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You should apply as early as possible.

    Applications open in October.