Anwesha Pal, who recently finished her LL.M. in IP Laws from Nottingham University shares her experience and some beautiful snaps of the picturesque university. If you are planning to pursue master’s in IP Laws, you would probably consider Nottingham – so read on to learn more!
What was your motivation behind doing LL.M.? When and why did you decide that you need to do master?
I have always wanted to teach and when I realized that teaching law at prestigious institutions is indeed possible, I decided on pursuing Master’s degree in Law. LLM is an academic degree. Therefore, if you are thinking<!–more–> more about having a career in academics, LLM is a must for you. Also, an international exposure could be an added benefit in more ways than one. LLM should be done primarily if you want to study further to increase your knowledge of a particular subject area of your discipline and to move into research and pursue higher research degrees for which Masters would be a pre-requisite. It is not entirely true in the present day job market that only a Master’s degree in law will help you in grabbing high paying jobs.
How did you choose the university? Where else did you apply? How should one go about choosing a university?
To do an LLM, I thought The UK would be best suited to my needs. I was interested in Intellectual Property laws and other commercial laws. I had applied to King’s College London, QMUL, University of Warwick and University of Nottingham. I went through the course structure for each, the faculty concerned with the subjects I chose to study, the place of study and the costs involved.
The university of Nottingham has one of the best faculties for Intellectual property laws in The UK and one of the most intensive courses in Masters of International Commercial Laws. With an amazing library and a brilliant atmosphere for studies and a superbly picturesque campus, every second spent there studying has been worthwhile.
Any interesting details about the course worth sharing?
To start with, our Intellectual property law course instructors were Dr. Estelle Derclaye and Dr. Paul Torremans who are very renowned in their fields. For all the other subjects, the seminars were coupled with lectures from Mahesh Uttamchandani from the World Bank, Pascal Kamina for Intellectual Property law and some other eminent dignitaries.
How was your experience? Tell me about the faculty and facilities. Anything memorable that is stuck in your mind?
Situated 2.5 hours from London, the facilities in and around this University are innumerable. The 24 hour access to all the buildings and the library within the University was very helpful since we had to prepare for the day-to-day seminars on almost all the days and additional research for our papers due at the end of the term.
The faculty was very helpful and understanding. The staffs in the school of law were equally well-informed and organised.
The hand-outs and the manuals were extremely helpful in preparing for the classes and the student’s portal was very well designed to cater to all our research needs. The university of Nottingham has an access to innumerable journals across the globe in almost all the major areas of research and studies. The library is huge and divided into levels. The basement and the ground levels being group study zones designed with brightly coloured walls and brilliantly designed cafeteria and a Starbucks in the corner. The other two levels above it are the silent study zones with inbuilt study carrels that have a plethora of books and journals for almost all the Humanities related subjects.
The University of Nottingham, UK is divided into 4 campuses where the University Park Campus is the one where a school of law is situated amidst beautiful gardens and a lake with swans and lots of greenery. Overall it is an idyllic place for studies. The hopper bus services are very effective which transfer you from one campus to the other for free. These are double-decker buses which run every few minutes.
A funny thing to note here would be that two of University of Nottingham’s campuses had been shown in one of the Bollywood flicks called Teri Meri Kahaani, which some of our European and English professors went to watch too!!
Well, I think one of the best experiences while living in the UK was when I got the opportunity to watch the Olympics (rhythmic gymnastics) in the Wembley Stadium.
How’s the Indian fraternity over there? Are there many Indian students?
The Indian community in the University is not very big. The LLM Class of 2011-12 had around 100 students out of which 25 were Indians and a few Indian origin UK citizens. The Asian community is pretty big there with a lot of students from China, Korea and South East Asia. There are many societies such as the Indian society, the Hindu society, the ISKCON society and so on where you can meet a lot of Indians too who are in various fields of study at Nottingham. These societies make you feel like you are a part of a family away from home and the activities during Holi and Diwaliwere very well organised which a lot of our friends from various cultures and ethnicity apart from the Indians celebrated along with us. There are quite a few excellent Indian restaurants that have all-you-can-eat buffets in store. They are preferred by Indians and non-Indians alike.
How is the recruitment/ placement situation for overseas students?
Ever since the UK did away with the PSW (Post study work visa), the placement situation has not been very encouraging for international students in The UK. However, there are a lot of companies including the banking companies and other organisation that introduce the graduate program each year. One can always apply for the same and get recruited at the end of the training period.</span><span>For students applying to law firms in the UK, I found in addition to the international law firms such as Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith and the likes, there are many ethnic minority law firms which release their training contract schemes and vacation schemes every year. The best place for the information regarding employment opportunities is in the law fairs organised by your Universities.
The University of Nottingham has the reputation of getting the majority of students employed each year, undergraduates and postgraduates alike. </span><span>However, if you are interested in a career in academics, you should keep an eye out for various research associate positions in various Universities in the UK including your own University. The Careers and Employability Services cell of the University of Nottingham were very helpful with such information.
How was the academic schedule? Was there a lot of academic work?
The academic schedule was brilliantly designed, although the courses were very demanding. The course was a mix of the full year and half year options along with a dissertation at the end which summed up to 180 credits overall.The students were at the liberty to choose the subjects </span><span>they wanted to take. The assessments for all the subjects were not the same. For some, 15 page essays had to be submitted, whereas for some there were exams in the end. The majority of the subjects one took decided the specialisation such as Masters in International Commercial Laws, European Laws, Human Rights Laws, Maritime law and so on.
Yes, there was a lot of academic work. For the LLM students, there were 2-hour seminars each day for the subjects one chose. The hand-outs for these seminars were given out and additional reading materials were put on the portals a week in advance. Studying the given topics thoroughly was a must since the seminar could not be followed otherwise and moreover one would not be able to take advantage of the seminars and the discussions in the class, if they were not familiar with the topics. Also, the class performance, which was instrumental in getting recommendations from the professors, was gauged according to one’s participation in the class.
Formative assessments were also very crucial in understanding the expectations of the professors with regards to our assessments. These were not marked and were meant for practice alone. Apart from that, all the professors were very approachable and always ready to help with your doubts.
The accommodation that I had booked before I left for the University was Broadgate Park. It is situated in Beeston that is a 5 minutes’ walk from the School of Law and other administrative buildings. The road leading to the university goes alongside huge playgrounds, a lake with swans and a small hillock paved with neatly trimmed lawns and bushes with concealed lights that give you the feeling of living in a scenic resort.
The experience was a brilliant one. The best part of it was when I was placed in the student’s accommodation with girls from various countries in my flat. I made new friends from various cultures, learnt a lot from them and shared my own too.
With vast green expanses, sunny days were greeted by the students whiling away their time on these lawns, debating over issues of politics over barbeques during the summer break, playing games and flying kites.
Broadgate Park also organises balls every half a year. The Christmas ball is an extravagant affair with European expert acrobats performing difficult acts followed by prom dances by the guests later on in the night.
The accommodation that I chose was that of a single study, although there is a wide variety of accommodations that one can choose from, including monetarily cheaper options.
The flat that I was allotted had flatmates from Canada, Uganda and China. I found really good friends in them. They were very accommodating and immensely helpful. Exploring Nottingham with them was an experience I would never forget. Social get-togethers with classmates were another highlight that was a very culturally enriching experience. I encourage the students going abroad to take advantage of the international experience as a whole and not limit their world to studies alone.
The accommodation also organises feasts on various occasions for free for the residing students. At such events, one can get sumptuous grub, cultural exchange and make new friends.
Nottingham is a beautiful town that hosts one of the biggest fairs in Europe which is called the Goose fair. The largest Indonesian festival in the UK was held here as well. It is the land of Robinhood and his friends and you can even find the roads of the town named after them such as the Maid Marian Way, Friar Tuck lane and so on.
Tell us about your classmates – was there a predominantly international crowd? What was the general age group of students?
My classmates were predominantly European and Chinese students. However, there was an eclectic mix of students from the Continent of Africa and other Asian countries. The style adopted in their countries regarding research and studying case laws is very different from the ones adopted in India. The way of teaching was mostly in the form of discussion and reading beyond what was enlisted in the seminar handouts.
The general age of students varied from 24 to 40 years. I met students from Pakistan and Africa who were in their 40s and were either already teaching at various institutions in their countries or working at solicitor firms or were Barristers in London. There was even a student from the Czech Republic who was in his mid-thirties and had been working at Clifford Chance for a few years. Some of them were working in Government organisations in their countries.
Did you get time for any extra-curricular activities?
The course had been designed very beautifully that it even left quite some time for pursuing activities other than the one that were related to academics. During the summers when the lake was not frozen, one could participate in rowing activities around the lake or join the swimming club or the belly dancing societies to learn something new. There are several student-run activities for the health conscious too. Also, one could even join the baking club to learn baking or help with the charity functions. There was even a Quidditch society for the Harry Potter buffs. There were societies that enacted the period wars and wore costumes to look more convincing.
For those who were passionate about volunteering, there were charities that needed volunteers to work at the local departmental stores and places like the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research Institutions to help raise money.
However for people who wanted to earn some extra bucks during the breaks, Nottingham being a University town was full of opportunities for students to work in. The ones offered by the University was the Note-taking services and other related support work for the disabled or the less abled students in the University. The pay was very attractive with almost 16 to 20 pounds per hour with an extra holiday pay. Jobs offered by the University were by far more lucrative than any other jobs that were being offered by other organisations.
How does one go about scholarships? Does the institute offer any scholarship?
There are many scholarships on offer such as the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, The Developing Solutions Masters Scholarship, IELTS Scholarships, Charles Wallace India trust Scholarship, Aga Khan foundation Scholarships, Goa Education Trust (GET) Scholarships, Chevening Scholarship and so on. The detailed information is given on the University’s website. The University does offer a scholarship. This scholarship is given by the International Office of the University. The same has been provided on the website.
What are your future plans? Going forward, how do you expect this experience to influence your career?
My plan at the moment is to focus on my academic career and move ahead with it. I believe the experience that I have had at Nottingham coupled with my under-graduation from NUJS would be a stepping stone to an academic career that I have always dreamt of. I hope to find better opportunities for my higher research degrees with my experience in Nottingham.