LLM Law and Society

Key Facts

Course Title: Law and Society
Course type: LLM/Postgraduate Diploma Postgraduate Certificate/CPD
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Postgraduate Administrator
Contact email:law.postgrad@keele.ac.uk
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Law


Law is a fascinating, complex and practically significant social phenomenon. From the regulation of private conflicts to the structure of government, virtually no aspect of our social lives is outside its grasp. The LLM in Law and Society at Keele allows students to gain a rigorous understanding of law and legal institutions from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is a small and selective programme that delivers high quality postgraduate training to students wishing to pursue a PhD in law and socio-legal studies or a career in the public and NGO sectors as well as a career at the bar.

The LLM embeds rigorous training in innovative methods, the acquisition of transferable skills, and genuine interdisciplinarity. It combines a set of foundational core modules in law and society with a flexible choice of electives. The course is particularly attractive to emergent researchers who desire to pursue an intensive programme of study in law and society.

The programme provides an approach to legal studies that is innovative in the UK context.  It focuses on the wide range of research addressing the relation between law and its social, political, economic and cultural contexts, from empirical studies of the workings of law to cultural studies of law. The course will enable students to think critically about the wide range of research methods and approaches that are used by those interested in Law & Society.

Postgraduate students will find a range of support structures, including: research training; accessible staff supervisors; good library resources; access to postgraduate study rooms; and access to IT and legal research tools.

Students on the LLM will be taught by leading researchers in Law and Society. Keele hosts a wide range of seminars, workshops, lectures and visiting fellowships. Most of these activities are available without charge to Keele postgraduates.

 'The seminars pushed my knowledge. they were relevant to a plethora of topics' - Student evaluation 2014.

 'A very interesting course with a wide range of subject options in a very supportive and friendly department.’

Abigail Pearson, 2014 LLM graduate, and current PhD candidate.

Aims of the Course

The programme will introduce students to a wide range of research methods and socio-legal theory informing a critical analysis of the relationship between legal institutions and society. Students will apply these theories and research methods to current legal problems in a variety of subject areas, depending on their own interests and reasons for enrolling on the programme.

The programme also provides a solid foundation for pursuing further study at doctoral level.

The aims of the LLM in Law and Society are to support students to:

  • Develop a systemic and interdisciplinary understanding of the relationship between legal institutions and society in the context of one or more broad areas of socio-legal scholarship.
  • Engage in critical analysis of current socio-legal problems.
  • Engage in original thinking about the complex issues relating to research in law and society and an ability to communicate those issues to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Develop a critical understanding of socio-legal research methods and theory.
  • Develop the ability to work independently and in a coherent, focused and productive way.
  • Achieve a strong educational foundation that enhances students’ prospects of professional, third sector or academic employment.


Entry Requirements

The Law and Society programme is open to graduates with a first or second class honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in Law or a related discipline (such as sociology, criminology or politics), or any other person with appropriate professional qualifications and/or experience. Applications are welcome from current legal practitioners.

Applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide evidence of a qualification in English language, unless they hold a previous degree that was taught and examined in English. The minimum score for entry to the LL.M. is academic IELTS 6.5 (with no subtest below 5.5) or equivalent.

Course Content

This programme may be studied over a period of time of 1 year (full-time) or up to a maximum of 5 years, 2 years (part-time) and up to 5 years (modular), to fit with other commitments such as full-time employment.

The LLM consists of 180 M-level credits, made up of 120-credit taught modules and a 60-credit dissertation.  There are compulsory taught modules on research in law and society.  The remainder can be chosen from a broad range of elective modules offered by the Law School.

If students do not wish to complete the full 180 credits, they may choose to exit with a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) or a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits).  A student must complete all taught modules before they may proceed to the dissertation module.


We offer two pathways for the LL.M. that cater for different career paths:

  • Pathway One offers a balance between core foundational modules and wide selection of elective modules.
  • Pathway Two is a research methods intense pathway for students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. and intend to apply for PhD funding.

Students choose their pathway after enrolment during the first two weeks of study. Students receive the same award title for both pathways.

Core Modules:

Pathway One you will study the following core modules (60 credits):

Foundations in Law and Society Research: Theories and Concepts
Socio-legal Studies: Approaches and Themes
Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Qualitative Research and Data, or
Quantitative Research and Data

Pathway Two you will study the following core modules (75 credits):

Foundations in Law and Society Research: Theories and Concepts
Socio-legal Studies: Approaches and Themes
Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Qualitative Research and Data
Quantitative Research and Data

Elective Modules:

Pathway One students will take 60 credits and Pathway Two students will take 45 credits from a wide selection of electives. The modules available to students may change each year and may include, subject to availability:

Table A – Human Rights Pathway Modules

Foundations of Human Rights (30 credits)

Equality, Discrimination, Minorities (30 credits)

Human Rights & Global Politics (30 credits)

Human Rights in a Global Market (30 credits)


Table B – International Law Modules

International Humanitarian Law: War, Law & Justice (15 credits)

Foundations of International Law (15 credits)

International Law & Human Rights (15 credits)

Introduction to International Economic Law (15 credits)

International Environmental Law (15 credits)

Global Business Regulation (15 credits)


Table C – Medical Ethics & Law

Moral Theory and Medical Ethics (30 credits)

Principles of Medical Law (30 credits)

Life, Death and the Human Body (30 credits)

Healthcare, Justice & Society (30 credits)


Table D – Safeguarding Adults Modules

Safeguarding Adults: Interventions (30 credits)

The Emergence of Adult Safeguarding (30 credits)

Mental Capacity (30 credits)

Safeguarding & Carers (30 credits)


Table E – Childcare Law & Practice Modules

Foundations & Principles of Childcare (30 credits)

Contemporary Issues in Childcare (30 credits)

Children Looked After (30 credits)

Children & Medicine (30 credits)


Table F – Community Outreach & Socio-Legal Advocacy

Community Outreach & Socio-Legal Advocacy (30 credits)


Table G – UG Level 6 electives

Child Law (15 credits)

Jurisprudence (15 credits)

Health Care Law (15 credits)

Gender, Sexuality and the Law (15 credits)

Transnational Crime (15 credits)

Employment Law (15 credits)


Teaching and Assessment

'The seminars pushed my knowledge. they were relevant to a plethora of topics' - Student evaluation 2014.

 Research Excellence

The School of Law has a long-standing reputation for excellence in research which draws on socio-legal perspectives and that makes a difference in society. In REF2014, 53% of the School’s impact work was world-leading places us 15th nationally for world-leading impact work. Students on the LLM will be taught by leading researcher in Law & Society, in a safe and supportive learning environment on the beautiful Keele University campus.

The LLM in Law and Society is taught by an international faculty with a wide range of expertise in socio-legal research. Most members of the Law School teach on our postgraduate programmes, including the core and elective modules for the programme. Individual staff biographies can be found at: http://www.keele.ac.uk/law/people/

The programme is taught principally through semester-long modules. During each taught module, students take part in a variety of different learning environments, from lectures to seminars and discussions to small group exercises. Each module is accompanied by extensive independent study and throughout the course students are encouraged and required to undertake independent reading both to supplement and consolidate the classes and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.

The programme is assessed through written work and examinations. Exams are predominantly unseen. They require students to demonstrate their ability to identify and to critique socio-legal theoretical approaches and to critically engage with key concepts in socio-legal research. Written work may be in the form of research essays, critical book reviews and dissertation proposals. Through these written assignments students demonstrate their awareness of current socio-legal problems and a comprehensive understanding of socio-legal research methods and theory as well as their ability for original thinking and high-level written communication skills.

The pass mark is 50% and students must pass each of the modules in order to progress to the dissertation.

The final form of assessment is a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words. This is an extended and in-depth piece of writing that brings together all of the skills that students have learned throughout the programme.

The dissertation is principally an independent research project, but support is provided in preparing a dissertation proposal through dissertation workshops and through the mentoring of a supervisor or supervisors. A graduate research workshop is also organised at the end of Semester 2 during which students are given an opportunity to present their work-in progress and receive feedback from fellow students and teaching staff. The dissertation is the ideal preparation for those students wishing to pursue doctoral studies.

Additional Costs

Modules across the Law and Society programme will include recommended core and supplemental texts.  Costs will vary depending on the particular text [Law textbooks vary between £20-40]. 

Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post graduate programme.

'The LLM in Law and Society is an intellectually stimulating course which explores a variety of socio-legal topics (including Marxist legal theory, feminist legal theory and legal realism). It is taught by a diverse set of excellent, enthusiastic and helpful lecturers. It has furnished me with the requisite skills in order to undertake a PhD in socio-legal theory.'

David Benbow, graduated with a 1st class degree from Keele in 2007 in Law and Politics, a 2014 LLM graduate with Distinction, and current PhD candidate.  Following his LLM he was awarded an extremely competitive AHRC studentship for his project 'Ideology and Healthcare reforms within England', exploring how law can be influenced by and perpetuate ideology through analysis of legislative changes to healthcare in England and Wales.

This programme will equip students for further postgraduate research (e.g. a Ph.D.), by providing comprehensive research training and an introduction to key socio-legal thinkers and scholarship. This dynamic and vibrant degree course will also provide those who wish to work in the public and NGO sectors with valuable research skills and transferable skills.

The skills include the demonstrated ability to:

  • Apply, with the use of independently gathered research, legal and non-legal knowledge to a range of complex problems relating to law and society
  • Manipulate a range of sources, recognising their relative values
  • Recognise, assess and rank particular arguments and, where appropriate, provide a reasoned choice between a number of possible solutions or arguments
  • Develop and defend arguments, demonstrating an ability to evaluate and respond to criticism and alternative arguments
  • Pursue in-depth and independent research on a particular subject
  • Synthesise a variety of empirical and theoretical perspectives
  • Where relevant, integrate academic knowledge with professional practice
  • Assess and prioritise the information, research, technology and preparations needed to complete tasks and assignments
  • Work effectively in a group to solve problems or to advance a learning objective
  • Negotiate a range of electronic information management tools
  • Take responsibility for and manage general learning development.