Studying for a law degree; the differences between MLaw and LLB courses

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Taking a closer look at two popular law degree options

If you’re looking to gain the qualifications to begin a career in law, the LLB and MLaw are two paths you’re sure to consider.

They’re not the only options - for instance, apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular route into law.

But for those looking to focus on university study, LLB and MLaw courses can take you towards the qualifications you’ll need to become a solicitor or barrister. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what these courses typically offer - and how they differ. Let’s start with a look at what each one is about.


What is it?
Legum Baccalaureus. Or, for those of us without a GCSE in Latin, Bachelor of Laws.

Which means?
It’s your undergraduate law degree. As with the majority of undergraduate degrees, it will keep you busy for three years’ of full-time study. 

What will I do?
All LLB courses cover the same seven core modules: constitutional and administrative (or public) law, contract law, criminal law, equity and trusts, EU law, land law and tort law. You'll also choose from other optional units or modules, depending on where you study your LLB. 

LLB courses can also be found combined with other subjects, such as languages, psychology or business.

Why would I study it?
The LLB is a qualifying law degree in England and Wales. Once you’ve graduated, you can get on to the next round of legal studies that will enable you to qualify as a solicitor or a barrister. 

The LLB is also a qualification in its own right, of course. So you might choose to take an entirely different path after graduation.


What is it?
An integrated Masters in law

Which means?
It’s a course that combines an undergraduate law degree and postgraduate study in a single course. The MLaw lasts for four years of full-time study.

What will I do?
You’ll work through LLB course content as well as your Masters. For example, The University of Law runs the MLaw (Solicitors' Practice) course. The first three years of this MLaw programme involve study of LLB modules, which build your foundational knowledge for the SQE1 examination. 

Over years three and four, you’ll develop your knowledge and skills in order to sit SQE1 and SQE2 assessments.

Why would I study it? 
An MLaw could be suitable if you want a degree course that can provide a direct route to a legal career

Taking the example of The University of Law’s MLaw (Solicitors' Practice) course, once you graduate from the course, you would only need to fulfil the qualifying work experience in order to qualify as a solicitor.

What are the main differences between LLB and MLaw courses?

One key difference between an LLB and a MLaw course is how long you’ll be studying. LLB courses last for three years of full-time study, while MLaw courses generally last for four. 

That does, of course, have an impact on your tuition fees. By choosing the MLaw option you will be looking at four years of tuition fees, rather than three.

But one of the benefits of the MLaw is that those four years of tuition can be covered by student loan funding, if you’re eligible. That means you can take out an undergraduate student loan to cover all four years of tuition (including the Masters part of the course).

After completing the course, you’re still entitled to take out a postgraduate loan - even though you’ve already completed a Masters. So it can be a more flexible and affordable way of gaining that Masters qualification.

Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing between these two options is the qualification you’ll earn from it.

If you study the LLB, you’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Laws. You’ll then be able to choose whether to move onto the course and exams you’ll need to qualify as either a solicitor or barrister. 

If you study the MLaw, you’ll graduate with a Masters. In the case of The University of Law’s MLaw (Solicitors' Practice) course, you’ll have completed your SQE level 1 & 2 exams. In order to qualify as a solicitor, you’ll just have the mandatory qualifying work experience left to do. 

That particular MLaw course also provides flexibility - so if you decide at the end of the first or second year that you just want to take the LLB, you can do so.

The choice that’s right for you will very much depend on what you want to do once you have completed the course.

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