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Hear from the Programme Director for Postgraduate Laws

Programme Director Professor Helen Xanthaki talks about the changes to the Postgraduate Laws programme under her leadership and what else she would like to achieve.

Written by Keith McDonald |

Professor Helen Xanthaki
Professor Helen Xanthaki hosts monthly online clinics, where students can ask questions. Her forum, 'Ask Me Anything', is available anytime.

The University of London Postgraduate Laws Programme has undergone some big changes over the last couple of years. It’s worth reflecting on what has been achieved and what else we would like to improve.

Teaching methods

It was really important for us to adapt our teaching methods, as we all felt that our students were thirsty for more interaction.

The first thing we did was introduce revision classes for the May and October examinations. Students can log in to the Virtual Learning Environment and have their questions answered by their course convenor at a set time.

There are monthly online clinics, where students can join and ask me questions. My forum, Ask Me Anything, is open 24/7: I respond to student queries within 48 hours.

I've been a teaching academic for 25 years, so I'm eager to have some personal contact with students. I've been a student on the programme too, so I’ve seen it from the inside.

I'm also doing termly face-to-face clinics with UK students, so if any UK-based students are interested in meeting me at UCL, I'm very happy to do that. Wherever you are, I'm here to help you with academic or strategic questions.

Study materials

We've enriched the VLE so much in recent years. Each course and each module features a short videocast, where academic convenors discuss the topic, the course, and their approach to teaching and learning. These are uploaded on the website too, so you can preview courses before you apply for them.

More broadly, we wanted a fully online and paperless experience. Fortunately, the Online Library is comparable to the libraries we have at University of London member institutions. We already have Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis, but we want to offer more specialised materials.

I've received a lot of feedback on the VLE from students who say how much they've enjoyed the materials or how useful they've found them. That reassures us that we’ve been heading in the right direction.

Master of Laws - LLM
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Further support

We've introduced more contact with students, and we increased the number of teaching institutions offering face-to-face tuition.

We've also introduced an induction session, almost like a short course, where incoming students discover how the programme works and how you study.

We also offer Summer Courses, so that we can engage with students face-to-face in London.

Course content

The richness of our offer has always been vital. We have the largest selection of modules anywhere in the world for an LLM programme – either taught or distance learning. Another big advantage is the flexibility. Both of these we're very, very eager to keep.

We introduced two new modules – EU criminal law and international law. This helps students who are not legally trained cope with the specialised materials of international law.

We think there’s a lot of scope for exchanging modules, and that's something I'm very eager to do. If somebody is interested in law and accounting, I want them to be able to pick some law subjects and then some accountancy subjects.

Tablet computer taking a photo of books
Positive feedback about our study materials reassures us that we're heading in the right direction. Thank you!

Feedback

We always wanted open channels of communication, so both prospective students and current students can give us feedback. This feedback is invaluable for planning how we enhance and develop the Postgraduate Laws Programme.

When we did our first online Q&A session, there was a big buzz in the room. It was exciting for us to see the interest out there, and to see people asking incisive questions.

A lot of ideas have also come through from our alumni. One of them suggested webinars, which is something we've explored. We also investigated an event around the time of the London Graduation Ceremony, so our existing alumni can meet the new cohort.

Our alumni are so vital, not just in terms of experience; it’s also helpful for us to get a better idea of where our students are in the market and what they found useful (with hindsight) to feed this back into the programme.

About Professor Xanthaki

Professor Helen Xanthaki has a considerable list of publications (including 12 books). She has coordinated research and training projects in the field of legislative drafting and law reform, and is a consultant to governments and international organisations. Helen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Athens Bar Association and the President of the International Association for Legislation.

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