Student Views of Postgraduate Study in the School of Law

What is it like studying in the Law School? Here are some views of recent postgraduate students:

Wenjun Wu, LLM in Commercial Law, 2007-2008 (China)

"Postgraduate study in Commercial Law as an LLM student at Bristol University was a fantastic experience for me. The course is intellectually challenging, thought-provoking as well as interesting. Lectures are well-structured with up-to-date topics and detailed information. Knowledge is vital, but nothing without understanding. Therefore, seminars are offered as such a pleasant and enlightening process, where a whole range of views and analysis can be exchanged with my insightful peers. Some heated discussions may result from the various logic thinking patterns and methodology which we may have forged during our previous education from different legal backgrounds. At that time, the considerate professors and tutors will present systematic guidance and illuminating suggestions. They will also answer the questions patiently. Moreover, any question via e-mail can be replied timely and explained comprehensively.

Reading is the vital part of law study. I would like to spend time reading in the law library in Wills Memorial Building not only because there is always a helping hand from the friendly librarians but also for the fine collection of text books, journals, reports and other reading materials, as well as the well-equipped computers. Workshops and discussions were often held there with other LLM students. I learned a lot from those bright minds and we gradually became good friends.

Life as an international student was never meant to be easy at first but the considerate service from the postgraduate office, the kind advice from my personal tutor and the help from my friends made it a happy journey with fabulous memories. The academic knowledge I gained; the research methodology I learned from dissertation writing; the happy hours I spent with my lovely friends; the support from all teaching staff; the help from people in Bristol are all I treasured most. I had a wonderful year here."

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Thalia Prastitou, LLM in Commercial Law, 2004-2005, PhD 2007-present (Cyprus)

"I enjoyed my postgraduate study at Bristol University very much. I found the course really interesting. Apart from academic knowledge I was really happy as I created a very good relation with my personal tutor, as well as with the other professors. What has also made a great impression on me was the really friendly atmosphere within the postgraduate office with the administrative staff. In general my year in Bristol was one of the nicest years of my life. I gained a lot of experiences, improved my legal knowledge and thinking and made really good friends."

Apart from everything else the in depth study of various issues of law throughout my LL.M degree made me realize that I wanted to continue my studies with a research degree and that the University of Bristol was the ideal place to conduct research in . Now being back here as a PhD student I feel at home! The Degree is well prepared with various seminars and meetings going on, on a regular basis, research facilities are great, students in the research rooms are really friendly, staff are always ready to help and my supervisor is my guiding light!

From my experience here I can definitely say that The University of Bristol offers an ideal environment for both, taught and research degrees! So go for it!"

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Kodizie Acholonu, LLM in Commercial Law, 2006-2007 (Nigeria)

Bristol Law School is one of the best places to get a Law Degree in the United Kingdom, and I dare say the Commonwealth. That alone was an attraction for me. While considering my options during the last months of my LLB programme at the University of Hull, I had wanted to move to a University with an established reputation in maritime law and shipping, to pursue a master’s degree. My personal tutor suggested several places, but put Bristol at the top of his list. I decided to visit Bristol in the summer of 2006 to see the school for myself and get a feel of the City. After a chat with the Staff at the Postgraduate Office at the Law School and two nights exploring the City later, I made my decision to accept the unconditional offer.

The University itself boasts an impressive record of excellence, scholarship and a character rich in diversity and innovation. The Law School is no less spectacular in the array of Lecturers, Tutors, Staff and Students that stride the gothic halls of the Wills Building; eminently brilliant, disarmingly friendly and extraordinarily helpful. I took up modules in commercial law and particularly enjoyed the technical nuances of International Contracts and the unavoidable intricacies of Shipping Law.  The nature of the LLM programme lends itself to an international mosaic of graduate students and one is immediately charmed by the erudition and intellectual depth of fellow students, who bring varied experiences and approaches to bear in debate and discussions during tutorials and seminar sessions. The work was hard, the reading hours long and the library collection vast. However, there’s always help and advice to guide one through from staff and fellow students.

All work and no play will likely make Jack or Jill dull company and, therefore, the City has a lot to keep one busy (on the social side); pubs; lounges; night clubs; the University sports centre and everything from the Colston Centre to the Old Vic to keep one up to date with the freshest gigs and make new friends to last a life time. A place I particularly enjoyed was Clifton Village, a little community on the east end of the famous Clifton bridge. It’s a small community, not very “studenty,” but includes a superb mix of quaint English stores, restaurants and bars surrounded by exquisite Georgian period architecture that is at once pleasant and intriguing. If you're one for the outdoors, a drive around the southwest countryside will provide plenty of fresh air, cider and history to keep one thoroughly enlightened and refreshed.

Bottom line is Bristol makes a great place to invest a year or three getting an education, and it makes sense to have the time of your life while you’re at it. The United Kingdom in general, and Bristol in particular, offers a fantastic opportunity to the international student to gain not just a widely accepted and respected law degree and educational experience, but a chance to build a broader perspective and gain a more specialised knowledge of subjects and skills relevant in our global village.

Armed with the tools and knowledge acquired during my years at Bristol and Hull, I am now in the process of completing a Barrister Training course at the Nigerian Law School. I am looking forward to an exciting practice at the Nigerian Bar, and a career in public service and policy formulation. In hindsight, Bristol was definitely the right choice for me and I hope it’s also the same for you.

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Jillian Marsden, MSc in Socio-Legal Studies, 2005-2006 (UK)

"The MSc in Socio-Legal Studies offered an interesting opportunity to build upon previous knowledge which I acquired during my undergraduate degree in Sociology, and to acquire an understanding of legal and socio-legal methods. The course has been both intellectually challenging and enjoyable. It has provided a stimulating forum in which to develop theoretical awareness of issues in the social sciences, and particularly in socio-legal studies. The comprehensive research training has also been really useful. The staff who teach the course are approachable and friendly, and provide a really positive environment in which to learn. The course's  interdisciplinary nature makes it suitable and enjoyable for individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, and the research training offers means that it can be recommended to anyone interested in undertaking a PhD or pursuing a career in socio-legal research. I can strongly recommend the MSc in Socio-Legal Studies."

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Olivia Joyner, MSc in Socio-Legal Studies, 2005-2006 (UK)

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the MSc in Socio-Legal Studies. The course offers a friendly and strongly supportive learning environment, in which you are treated like an intellectual peer; the result is to make you want to learn more, and work hard. Overall, I have loved my masters. The teaching and support is amazing and the course is very interesting, fresh and thought-provoking. The books and issues we look at are relevant and very useful, and the seminars help to draw out individual's views and clarify any points raised by the literature."

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Lei Chu, LLM in Maritime Law, 2005-2006 (China)

"I loved my life as a law student at Bristol University.  The experience was enjoyable and unforgettable for me.  The courses were demanding and interesting, so I improved a lot in my academic knowledge. My personal tutor was very friendly and responsible; he would always give the seminars clearly and answer my questions patiently.  I remember that once I asked him a specific question about carriage of goods by sea by E-mail, he immediately replied to me with a two-page analysis and explanation on the issue. 

Also I had the opportunity to meet and make friends with the students from different cultural backgrounds, which broadened my visions and strengthened my skills of communication. The library in School of Law was an ideal place for students to conduct legal research, which made an impression on me. For me, the books and journals in the library were really helpful to write the essay and dissertation.

In short, I had a fantastic year at Bristol University and appreciate the great help, which the professors and the administrative staff in the postgraduate office gave to me. Now I have come back to China and am working as a legal assistant in a Chinese law firm. What I have learned in the University of Bristol is proving very helpful for my current career."

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Kate Grady, LLM in International Law, 2004-2005; PhD 2005-present (UK)

"I found the LLM in International Law challenging, stimulating and hugely enjoyable.  It was a pleasure to be taught, and to learn, in an environment, and on a course, which valued knowledge and education for their own sake. The approach on the LLM seemed to regard us less as students and more as novice academics - capable of bringing a whole range of analysis and opinions to the subject - which made the course hugely stimulating and a pleasure to study on.  It was this that inspired me to continue my studies with a PhD in public international law, a subject with which I am still fascinated.  I have found writing my thesis a demanding but satisfying process and I relish the opportunities it has given me to develop my intellectual capabilities and strengthen my skills of analysis and argument.  During my time studying for my PhD, I have also been employed as a tutor within the Law Department, which has proved to be a valuable experience.  Teaching has been hard work at times, but the interaction with the students and the sense of satisfaction after a good hour of engaged discussion with many other bright minds makes it feel worthwhile!"

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Nina Schulte - LLM in European Legal Studies, 2004-2005 (Germany)

"I thoroughly enjoyed the LLM program and it definitely makes an impression on potential future employers to have this qualification! As a former law student from Germany, it was a new experience for me to be taught in small seminars of only 7 to 20 students, depending on the unit. I can say that this way of teaching is much more effective, challenging, and provides the opportunity to speak a lot and listen to other students, not only to the lecturer! The library, the computers, and especially the postgraduate office were great, I especially thank all the staff for having always been patient and helpful. The exams were fair and I think the lecturers prepared the students well enough to pass with good grades. So in the end, I personally had a wonderful year, which I would not want to have missed."

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Aurelie Archambeaud, LLM in Commercial Law, 2004-2005 (France)

"Studying the LLM in Commercial law at Bristol University was for me a very good experience. The quality of teaching is excellent. Learning via seminars is a very good idea which encourages the exchange of information and ideas (so make the most of it!). You will be expected to do a lot of personal work but it is well worth the effort.The postgraduate office is great and delivers an individualized service. The atmosphere in the School of Law is friendly and you get to meet many students from different nationalities and different legal backgrounds. The library is a very peaceful place to work and has all the necessary resources from books, journals to computers with research devices and internet. So if you do get the chance to study at the School of Law at Bristol, do not hesitate you won't regret it!"

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