The Postgraduate Programme - Course Advice - School of Law - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Law Postgraduate Programmes

The School of Law offers a varied postgraduate programme. The academic strength of the School and the flexibiliy of the degree make the programme an attractive option for students wanting to develop their research skills and to gain a valuable postgraduate qualification in any area of legal study.

Positions in the programme are limited and are allocated according to undergraduate academic achievement. Applications for admission to all LLM programmes are invited from law graduates or from students who are about to graduate. Students from relevant backgrounds other than law may apply to the Dean of Law for admission.

Applications to enrol can be made at any time. Enrolment normally is in February or July but other times are possible.

Postgraduate Courses

All School of Law Postgraduate Courses

LLM Enquiries

For general enquiries about all LLM programmes or to request an information pack, contact the Postgraduate Administrator.

Enquiries about the LLM in International Law and Politics can be made to Natalie Baird or Chris Riffel.

Application forms and information about admission to the University of Canterbury are available from the Enrolments Office.

LLM at University of Canterbury

Three LLM programmes are offered by the School of Law at the University of Canterbury:

  • LLM by thesis
  • LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation
  • LLM in International Law and Politics

The LLM by thesis gives candidates the flexibility to thoroughly research an area of particular interest. In certain circumstances and with approval, students enrolled for the LLM by thesis can transfer to the PhD degree. Candidates can begin study at any time.

The LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation is a taught LLM programme, attracting students from many parts of the world including Britain, Germany, Malaysia, Australia and the United States of America. Candidates may begin study in February or July.

The LLM in International Law and Politics is a multi-disciplinary degree, partly taught and partly research-based. Candidates may begin study in February or July.

The Canterbury LLM programmes offer a wide choice of topics for either general study or specialised research drawing on particular academic strengths in the Faculty. Students can tailor their course content to enable them to develop their own interests and achieve personal benefit. Full and part-time study is possible.

The LLM degree can ordinarily be completed in one year of full-time study.

LLM by Thesis

The LLM may be taken by thesis alone.  The thesis should be a significant piece of research of 40,000 – 50,000 words.  Before enrolling in the LLM by Thesis prospective students must contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies and must normally submit a detailed research proposal.

Sometimes a student who initially enrols for the LLM by research papers may wish to convert to the LLM by thesis. This can be done if the projected research topic is sufficiently substantial to justify the extended analysis expected of a thesis. The Director of Postgraduate Studies must approve the change.

LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation

A major advantage of the LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation at the University of Canterbury is its flexibility. Students can choose three subjects from a large range of options.

Each subject comprises

  • Two research papers of 10,000 words, or
  • A dissertation of 20,000 words.

There are no postgraduate lecture courses as part of this LLM programme.

The Faculty seeks to cater for a wide variety of research interests. It offers supervision in all of the core areas, including the New Zealand Legal System, Public Law, Torts and Accident Compensation, Law and Medicine, Arts and Media Law, Legal Philosophy, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, International Law, Business and Commercial Law, and Intellectual Property.

The three LLM topics may be in different subject areas or they may be broadly related. Students wishing to focus on one broad field of inquiry may enrol in their chosen subject together with a related “special topic”, and write a dissertation.

The option to take a research paper coupled with an undergraduate lecture course may assist overseas students who are not familiar with a chosen field of New Zealand study. Overseas students are often keen to learn about aspects of the New Zealand legal system and to undertake comparative study with their own legal systems.

Other students may wish to focus upon particular specialist areas of study or to improve their legal knowledge and skills in disparate areas. This has contributed to the production of some outstanding research papers and dissertations in the LLM programme.


LLM (International Law and Politics)

The LLM (International Law and Politics) is a partly taught and partly research-based interdisciplinary degree for students with a law background who are interested in developing their knowledge of international law and in examining the political nature of the international order.

The degree requires students to complete four courses and a dissertation on a topic of their choice. Courses cover a wide range of topics, from International Criminal Law to the Law of International Trade.

Students with a first degree other than law may apply to the Dean of Law for admission.


The School of Law faculty offers a full range of supervision for doctoral studies. PhD enquiries should be made in the first instance to the Postgraduate Administrator

Between five and ten PhD students are studying in the Law School at any one time. Full and part-time study options are available. With approval, extramural enrolment is possible.

The minimum requirements are the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree (with a sufficient grade of Honours) or a Masters degree in Law (or a relevant subject).

Applicants will also need to show a sufficient level of competence in written and spoken English. In Law we require a level 7 IELTS with no section under 6.5 for Postgraduate study.