LLM Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

This programme draws upon Birmingham Law School’s long standing research strengths in the areas of criminal law and criminal justice. Criminal Law is concerned with the most potentially invasive assertion of authority by the state: if you fail to comply with the law you will be punished. This programme provides a holistic analysis of the criminal process through an analysis of the law, its philosophical underpinnings and its operation in practice.

Students can study to attain a broad overview of criminal justice processes or specialise in particular aspects as diverse as underpinning theories, policing, health aspects of criminal justice or indeed international aspects of law enforcement co-operation. Many modules have been created and are taught by leading scholars of the particular field and students benefit from close contact with researchers.

For those wishing to gain in-depth understanding of criminal law and criminal justice, this course offers the opportunity for broader or deeply specialised study within an innovative research-led teaching environment which benefits from BLS’s longstanding stature in this field and our staff’s dedication to ensuring it lives on; also in our LLM graduates.

Francis Gwilliam

Francis Gwilliam

LLM Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Graduate

“The LLM programme is fascinating, challenging and hard work! An LLM degree is not like an undergraduate degree: the onus is very much on you to develop ideas, do the reading and then ask questions. However, the academic staff are always keen to help and I have found my teachers and the support staff only too willing to answer queries and assist with my study.”

Students socialising by the lake at Birmingham's student accomodation

At Birmingham Law School we research into topics as diverse as the ever widening net of criminalisation and (at least quasi-) criminal justice processes, to money saving tactics and their effect on the very philosophy which underpins our criminal law and justice system, the justice which emerges from it and effects.

These specialisations flow into the modules on this LLM which will allow you to study the five separate objectives used in enforcement of Criminal Law; retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution taught. All of these are subjects of great debate and controversy across all jurisdictions and students benefit from debating these informed by and in exchange with our broad range of experts.


Why study this course

  • Research-led teaching - 72% of our research is classed as 'World Leading' or 'Internationally Excellent'. Our research profile features particular expertise in criminal justice, human rights, policing and broader law enforcement as well as a rare concentration of specialisation in particular substantive areas – such as counter-terrorism – and relevant international law aspects.
  • Module choice - One of the widest ranges of LLM modules available in the UK
  • Employability - Birmingham is one of the top universities in the UK for graduate employment
  • Professional links - annual law fair, visits to and from leading firms
  • Student experiencesee what our students have to say about our degrees


You follow a modular programme (180 credits in total), which comprises six taught modules (20 credits each) and a dissertation of 15,000 words (60 credits); the latter to be submitted at the end of the year of study. Students following the Criminal Law & Criminal Justice programme study a minimum of four of their six modules from the list below:

Students can also choose to study up to two of their six modules from those available on the General LLM

Students are also allowed to choose one of their six modules from those offered by the Political Science and International Studies department. Students may chose from the following list:

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £6,840 full-time; £3,420 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,540 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Please note: A ?50 non-refundable application fee is payable for this course.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

LLM scholarships

The 2015 scholarships are now closed. Details of scholarships for 2016 entry will be available later in the year.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good Honours degree in law, or a degree in another discipline augmented with a pass in the Common Professional Examination.

International students:

International qualifications which are equivalent to a UK honours degree in Law will be considered. Learn more about international entry requirements

If your first language is not English you must provide an English language qualification. Recognised qualifications include:

  • IELTS: 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band

How to apply

Please note: From 1st July 2015 we will be introducing a £50 non-refundable application fee for this course. This does not apply to applications received before 1st July 2015.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

Learn more about applying

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

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Birmingham's LLM programmes have been designed to allow in-depth analysis of important legal topics. Modules are all 20 credits in length, comprising 10 two-hour seminars, to enable students to develop significant expertise which will enhance their career prospects.

Birmingham is able to offer small-group teaching on the LLM and students following popular modules with large numbers of students will receive (where possible) additional teaching time. For these additional hours large classes will be split in to two separate seminar groups in order to provide an equal opportunity for class interaction compared to those in smaller groups.

The LLM programmes last 12 months, running from September to September. All LLM programmes follow the same basic structure.

  • In part I of the programmes, you take six 20 credit modules: the range of choice depends on the programme you decide to follow. Assessment in those modules, by essay or formal examination, is in May and June.
  • In part II of the programmes, you research and write a 15,000-word dissertation on a selected topic of law under the supervision of a member of staff.

The LLM programmes enable you to develop expertise in a range of subjects. You will acquire a systematic understanding of these along with a critical appreciation of the problems that arise these fields. You will be encouraged to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge together with a practical understanding of how established research techniques are used to create and interpret knowledge.

Law School induction

At the start of the course there is a two-day induction designed to help you settle in and gain an understanding of the LLM programme.

Students do not register for modules before arrival as we feel it is important that you are able to make an informed choice. As part of the induction process module leaders will give a detailed description of what their subject entails and you will have the option to attend any areas which you are interested in for the first two weeks of the course before having to submit a final decision.

Studying part-time

All the LLM programmes may be taken part-time and completed over a period of two years. This mode of study is particularly suitable for barristers and solicitors who wish to combine professional practice with university-level study, gaining CPD points in the process.

Classes for part-time students on the LLM will be scheduled between 9am-6pm and students will typically have between 2-4 hours of teaching each week. Fees are the same as for full-time study but are split over two years.

International students

International students are invited to participate in an orientation course run by the university’s International Office before the start of the academic session. For students from outside the UK, there are also lectures on the British constitution, sources of English law and the working methods of the common law system. The English for International Students Unit provides a range of support in reading and writing academic English.

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The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world, for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune. Historically, over 93% of our law students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating, with many going on to obtain academic careers in the top law schools in the country.

Links to the Legal Profession

The Law School maintains strong links with the professional world, through our network of alumni and contacts in the barristers’ and solicitors’ professions. These links allow us to put on a series of law careers events throughout the academic year.

Each autumn, the University hosts the Law Fair, in which we welcome over 50 law firms, including some of the largest law firms in the world, to the University's Great Hall. The attendees represent law firms of all sizes and most areas of practice.

The Law School also organises “Law in Practice” seminars, in which practitioners explain to students how the area of law relevant to a specific module works in practice. These are invaluable opportunities for students to enhance their studies, and enable them to improve their commercial awareness.

In June each year, the Law School hosts “Employability Fortnight”, after the end of the examinations period in the summer term. The events which run in this fortnight have included an Applications Process Panel Session, a Midlands Circuit Court Visit followed by an Inner Temple Drinks Reception in the evening, an Alternative Dispute Resolution Workshop by Herbert Smith, and dedicated Careers Advice Drop-in Sessions.

The Careers Network

The Careers Network organises regular events including presentations by top law firms and the annual Law Fair. It also runs workshops to help students prepare effective applications and to prepare for their next move. Its events on non-law careers, including journalism, marketing and working with charities, can be of interest to law students.


The Law School organises a range of mooting opportunities and students have the opportunity to participate (a moot is a mock trial of a legal issue). The Moot Room was refurbished in 2011 and is now a state-of-the-art court room, complete with audio-visual equipment for recording moots. The Law School operates four mooting competitions, and students regularly represent the University at regional and national competitions, with notable success.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.