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Master of Laws (LLM)

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be 18 April 2019 after which it will no longer be available to new students. You must complete your study by 31 December 2023. If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us.

This qualification is designed to consider the role and place of law in an increasingly globalised world, and is suitable for law and non-law graduates as well as lawyers wanting to develop their interests. Our LLM takes a critical legal approach to study, using different perspectives and case studies to illustrate, explore, compare and contextualise topical legal issues. You will explore the interaction of law, law making bodies, institutions and regulators in an international context, the role and function of law in an increasingly global society, and the role of states, international institutions and multi-national companies. You will also consider contemporary legal issues such as corporate social responsibility, trans-national crime, humanitarian aid and security.

Key features of the course

  • Explores methods of reasoning and analysis in law, and evaluates the complexities inherent in law, regulation and legal study 
  • Develops a range of transferable skills, including advanced legal research, that are attractive to employers
  • Concludes with an in-depth piece of independent research on a topic within your chosen specialist subject area.
If you are interested in becoming a lawyer (solicitor or barrister) you need to study an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons). 

Masters degree

Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
3–5 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


There is a choice of routes through the qualification. You can start your studies with any of the compulsory modules. If you are claiming credit transfer from another postgraduate provider you may not need to study an optional module. Your final module to complete this masters degree will be The law dissertation (W800).

To gain this qualification you need 180 credits as follows:

90 credits of compulsory modules:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Exploring legal meaning (W820)

This module looks at different legal research methods, including doctrinal, socio-legal and comparative, to see how they can be used to explore the place and meaning of law in the modern world.

See full description

30 02 Nov 2019
Exploring the boundaries of international law (W821)

This module examines the complexities of twenty-first century international law by exploring the evolving role and function of international law in the modern world.

See full description

30 04 May 2019
Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility (W822) *

This module examines the nature of corporate commitment to principles of corporate social responsibility in different contexts and its inter-relationship with human rights law.

See full description

30 02 Nov 2019

*Or Continuing professional development in practice (UYA810) if previously studied as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Professional Practice (Employment Law Advice) which is only available to those working for ACAS. 

30 credits from:

Optional modules Credits Next start
Capacities for managing development (T878)  

This module builds the competence and confidence to manage development, local and global, more effectively, and bring about greater social equality and justice. 

See full description

30 01 May 2019
Conflict and development (T879)

Combining theoretical concepts with practical tools, this module explores the causes of conflict, the impact conflicts have on development, and actions that can help mitigate conflicts.

See full description

30 01 Nov 2019
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)

This module allows you to evaluate and assess 150 hours prior learning and identify and progress appropriate development opportunities for future continuing professional development. 

See full description

30 04 May 2019
Development: context and practice (T877)

This module provides a conceptual framework for analysing the complex, contested contexts in which development takes place, and a critical analysis of development management practice.

See full description

30 01 May 2019
Environmental monitoring and protection (T868)

This online module equips you with the skills necessary to undertake environmental assessment work, interpret the results and suggest appropriate remedial measures.

See full description

30 01 Nov 2019
Institutional development (TU872)

This module analyses institutions, identifies their significance for development, examines how to build inter-organisational relationships, and explores the skills of mapping, modelling, negotiation and brokering.

See full description

30 01 May 2019
Making environmental decisions (T891)

Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic factors, this module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements in environmental decision-making situations.

See full description

30 01 May 2019

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D864, D867, D872, D873, T863, TD866, TU870, TU871, TU875

60 credits from the compulsory module:

Compulsory module Credits Next start
The law dissertation (W800)                                     

The Law dissertation is the final element of the LLM and will support you in completing a research project based on your previous LLM studies.

See full description

60 02 Nov 2019

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

On successful completion of the required number and type of modules you will be awarded a Master of Laws entitling you to use the letters LLM (Open) after your name. Your degree will be classified: distinction, merit or pass. The classification will be based on your best 90 credits but must include W800.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

You should hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent or recognised overseas qualification) or relevant professional legal experience. Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree or if you lack formal academic qualifications but have relevant work experience, please speak to an adviser.

The modules are taught in English, and your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you seek assessment under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

How long it takes

Each module will involve around 12 hours of study per week. Most students study this qualification in 3 years. The minimum time to complete is three years, the maximum time to complete is five years.

Career relevance

There is a growing demand for professionals who have an in-depth understanding of the role and purpose of law in our increasingly global society, and the associated advanced legal research and reasoning skills.

This degree will contribute to your career development by providing transferable skills that are highly valued by employers. Typically, holders of the LLM will:

  • deal with complex legal issues both systematically and creatively
  • communicate their subject knowledge clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems
  • act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks
  • reflect on the responsibilities linked to the application of knowledge
  • demonstrate the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial piece of independent research with scholarly integrity
  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • be able to develop a persuasive legal argument based on evidence
  • demonstrate independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer (solicitor or barrister) you need to study our undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons).

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.