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Overview

Access to justice through legal education.

Summary

Study Clinical Legal Education at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

The LLM in Clinical Legal Education (CLE) is a distinct and unique legal education course in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland, there being no comparable courses at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The course gives students the opportunity to develop legal advice and advocacy skills by allowing them to represent appellants in Industrial and Social Security Tribunals. Students will also have the opportunity to engage their interest in the provision of legal services more generally as they are required to develop and manage the ‘Ulster University Law Clinic’ (based at the Belfast campus) and through the study of Public Interest Litigation, for example.

The function of the course is to supplement the existing range of legal service providers by focusing on, and meeting, ‘unmet legal need’ in the fields of employment law and social security law. In doing so, students are tasked to analyze ‘unmet legal need’, the availability and consumption of legal services and reflect on wider issues of access to justice, ‘equality of arms’, and dispute resolution.

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About this course

In this section

About

The LLM CLE programme is a distinct and unique contribution to legal education in Northern Irelandand on the island of Ireland, there being no comparable programme at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Its function is to supplement the range of legal service providers by focusing on, and meeting, unmet legal need in the fields of employment law and social security law, whilst giving students the opportunity to develop legal advice and advocacy skills and engaging their interest in the provision of legal services more generally.

To this end, students receive training in social security law, employment law, alternative dispute resolution and tribunal representation in preparation for providing advice and advocacy, to members of the public with appeals before Social Security or Industrial Tribunals. This advice and representation will be provided through the ‘Ulster Law Clinic’ (based on the Belfast campus) and/or on placement with advice sector organisations in semesters two and three. The programme also involves students in the development and management of the ‘Ulster Law Clinic’.

Attendance

Students are expected to attend all classes associated with the programme and be punctual and regular in attendance. In semester one, students will be based on the Jordanstown campus and will undertake taught modules in Social Security Law and Policy, Employment Law, Tribunal Representation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. In Semester 2 and 3, Students will be based on the Belfast campus at the Ulster Law Clinic and/or on clinical work placement with the Legal Support Project within the Law Centre (NI) for the Clinical Legal Practice module where they will provide advice and representation to users of the Law Clinic. Students will also undertake the taught module Litigating in the Public Interest and attend classes in the Dissertation module.

Start dates

  • September 2016
How to apply

Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand.

In this section

Year one

Social Security Law and Policy

Year: 1

This module will provide an insight into how the social security system in the UK is structured and how entitlement to different social security benefits is governed. It will enable students to appreciate the complexity of social security provision, and the impact of policy which drives social security reform.

Tribunal Representation

Year: 1

This module aims through a combination of lectures and practical exercises to enable trainees to further develop their own professional practice in relation to employment and social security matters. The module aims to develop a student's ability to apply and further develop the knowledge and practical skills gained in prior and concurrent modules. The module will encourage discussion of rationales and consequences of each available course of action in any given scenario, and students will be encouraged to critique solutions to any issues identified as arising from their choice(s). It is anticipated that students will examine the impact of the rules and procedures involved and their tactical application in practice with a view to developing their own individual work practice.

Litigating in the Public Interest

Year: 1

Strategic litigation of matters of significant public interest forms part of the arsenal of many campaigning organisations and a vital component of the democratic and constitutional process and considerable interest has developed in this phenomenon in a wide range of jurisdictions. Public interest litigation cases often serve as a vehicle for instigating political discussion and can often play a considerable role in exploring political fissures in a society, such as attitudes to abortion or minority language rights, for example, or the limits and extent of more common rights, such as the relationship of freedom of expression and abusive speech or perhaps to the full extent of the positive obligations on state to protect rights. This module examines the process of mounting public interest litigation challenges and considers the role played by public interest litigation in the wider democratic process.

Clinical Legal Practice 1

Year: 1

Clinical Legal Practice forms the centre-piece module of the programme, being the module during which students develop their clinical legal practical skills. Student clinicians will be required to provide specialist information, advice and advocacy for social security claimants and individuals seeking assistance with employment law disputes, including representation at tribunal where appropriate. The clinical legal experience will be predominantly placement based at the outset, and student clinicians will also work towards establishing, developing and managing an Ulster Law Clinic to provide an in-house, public facing clinic to provide free specialist assistance for members of the public with social security and employment law disputes.

Year two

Employment Law

Year: 2

The importance of the employment relationship between employers, employees, unions and
other statutory bodies and agencies is such that a thorough knowledge of both the context and
the substantive law is necessary for those involved in this area in any capacity. The module
attempts to provide the basis for this knowledge and to put students in the position where they
may not only have an understanding of the law both conceptually and substantively, but also be
in a position to use that knowledge in the solution of problems.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Year: 2

Methods of ADR are increasingly being used within the legal system and advocated as a means of removing cases from overburdened courts. In appropriate cases they can provide an alternative to legal adjudication and can be used as a means of achieving satisfactory solutions to disputes. The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the processes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and its relationship to law. The course will cover processes such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation and will provide students with a foundational knowledge of ADR which can then be developed in their professional practice. The module will comprise both theoretical and skills based elements. Students will consider the rationale and ethics of ADR before being introduced to some of the practical skills used in these processes. The study and practice of ADR will be undertaken in the context of a range of legal subject areas, including commercial law, family law and employment law.

Dissertation

Year: 2

This module allows students to apply the research skills acquired and explore the issues broached in the taught modules, by conducting an effective critical investigation of an area of concern or interest in human rights law and to write a report on that investigation.

Clinical Legal Practice 2

Year: 2

Clinical Legal Practice forms the centre-piece module of the programme, being the module during which students develop their clinical legal practical skills. Student clinicians will be required to provide specialist information, advice and advocacy for social security claimants and individuals seeking assistance with employment law disputes, including representation at tribunal where appropriate. The clinical legal experience will be predominantly placement based at the outset, and student clinicians will also work towards establishing, developing and managing an Ulster Law Clinic to provide an in-house, public facing clinic to provide free specialist assistance for members of the public with social security and employment law disputes.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

You must satisfy the General Entry Requirements for admission to a first degree programme, and hold a GCSE pass in English at grade C or above (or equivalent). The Faculty of Social Sciences will accept Essential Skills Level 2 Communication as equivalent to GCSE English Language.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must:

(a) have gained (i) a second class honours degree or better in law from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or (ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in law or an approved alternative qualification; and

(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent); or, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b):

(c) In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

(d) In addition, all applicants will be required to submit a personal statement detailing their interest and motivation in undertaking the programme, and they will also be required to attend an interview to evaluate applicants’ suitability for the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

Professional and practical skills will comprise a significant element of the course, and will be developed through a combination of traditional and innovative teaching and learning methods. The focus of these blended teaching and learning methods will be on encouraging students to be flexible and creative in their approaches to legal problem solving: in practice, on paper and in simulated experiences. The Teaching and learning methods designed to ensure that students will acquire key knowledge and technical understanding of complex information will include traditional lectures and seminars, directed and facilitated by staff members, and designed to encourage high levels of student engagement. These traditional methods of teaching and learning include staff-led lectures; student and tutor-led seminars; group work and student presentations; and problem based scenarios. Within the induction programme students will begin their skills based learning, with an introduction to skills development in interviewing, drafting, negotiation and advocacy. These skills will be further developed through a range of techniques and synergistic emphasis on the development of subject specific and technical knowledge alongside an appreciation and awareness of law in practice. These will include, inter alia, supervision sessions; lectures/workshops by specialist, invited speakers; supervised clinic development/management meetings; mock case discussion and tribunals; and the use of real-life case studies and exemplars.

The assessments methods employed on the LLM are designed to test knowledge, understanding and the professional and practical skills of students. These include, inter alia, written and oral based coursework and case studies of relevant legal issues and client based problems through the use of reflective learning journals; case studies on simulated and real client cases; and advocacy, interviewing and negotiation exercises. Such methods allow for an experimental and positive student learning experience through the use of continuous learning and feedback practices which facilitate students’ development as independent learners and allows them to assess, regulate and evaluate their performance and learning into professional practice.

Exemptions and transferability

For a variety of reasons, not least the issue of insurance, no exemptions are granted for prior study, including from employment law and social security law.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

You will develop skills highly relevant to legal practice, and to policy, research and advocacy roles in the voluntary, public and private sectors in the UK, Ireland and beyond. Successful completion may also open up a range of further study and research options.


The LLM CLE allows you to develop the analytical skills prized by employers in a wide range of career pathways within the United Kingdom, Ireland and internationally. Students obtain experience in all aspects of legal practice, from client-handling and case-related research, to advocacy and representation, and reflecting on public interest litigation, as well as developing and managing a working Law Clinic. The degree is relevant to legal practice and policy, and to research and advocacy roles in the voluntary, public and private sectors. Successful completion also opens up a range of further study and research options.

Academic profile

The Ulster Law Clinic won the prestigious 2014 Law Works and Attorney General Award for best new pro bono activity in the UK. The award recognises the impact, innovation and sustainability of the Ulster Law Clinic, the partnership work with local and legal communities, and the provision of pro bono legal support that is unavailable elsewhere.

The focus of the Ulster Law Clinic on access to justice in areas of unmet legal need has been further endorsed by the Department of Justice through the award of an Access to Justice Scholarship for the LLM CLE since 2013/4.

The unique work of the Ulster Law Clinic to developing students’ research and clinical capacity in the area of unmet legal need, as well as growing capacity within the academic and voluntary sectors, is recognised and supported by a new partnership with global law firm Allen and Overy. The Allen and Overy scholarships for LLM Clinical Legal Education students will support the next generation of social justice lawyers at a critical time for access to justice across the UK and further afield.

The Course Team also received the Distinguished Team Teaching Award in December 2014 from the University, as well as Learning and Teaching Awards 2014 Course/School Team of the Year in the inaugural UUSU awards of that year.

Research funding was also obtained in 2015, from the Legal Education Foundation, to conduct research into the operation of pro-bono advice clinics and the manner in which the public accesses their services, as part of our 'Pathways to Justice' research.

Apply

Please apply at www.ulster.ac.uk/applyonline

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2016

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - Tuition fees for this course may vary Contact us for more details on the price of this course

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.