Teaching and assessment

Method of teaching

The LLM Programme is conducted in English through a mixture of lectures, seminars and small group teaching. For small subjects, teaching will normally be conducted through interactive classes, usually one two-hour class a week. For larger subjects, in most cases lectures (again usually 2 hours a week) are supplemented by some 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 discussion and all small group classes will be based on reading lists circulated prior to the classes.

Method of assessment

Prior to the pandemic, the method of assessment for each course has typically been a three-hour written examination at the end of the academic year (usually in late May/early June). These exams have been 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 the summer 2020 and summer 2021 exams, adapting to the pandemic has required the three-hour exam to be replaced by an online open-book examination with a time- and word limit. The arrangements for the 2021/22 LLM are currently under review, and should be published before the start of that academic year. Assessment options for the 2022/23 LLM and subsequent years are equally under consideration and will be made available once finalised.

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

Students receive their exam results 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. This course usually runs every year and is provided by Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education.