Master's and doctoral study

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The Faculty of Law offers a varied postgraduate programme.

The Faculty's academic strength and the flexibiliy of the degrees we offer make our postgraduate 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.

To develop a career in the fields of policy, politics, or government, a postgraduate qualification is all but essential.

Diverse fields of research

Our academics have wide research interests and our research groups are working on diverse issues of Law. Find out more about our academic interests.

Degree options

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.

Three masters programmes are offered by the Faculty of Law at UC:

  • LLM by Thesis (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.)
  • LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation (The LLM by Research Papers and Dissertation is a research based 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.) We presently do not accept any applications for the LLM by Research Papers.
  • LLM in International Law and Politics (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.)

Full and part-time study is possible. The LLM degree can ordinarily be completed in one year of full-time study.

The LLM may be taken by thesis alone. The thesis should be a significant piece of research of 35,000 to 50,000 words.

Before enrolling in the LLM by Thesis prospective students must contact and must submit a 500 word research proposal.


The LLM by Research Papers is partly taught and partly research based. The programme attracts students from many parts of the world including Britain, Germany, Malaysia, Australia and the United States of America.

The degree requires students to complete one taught course on legal research methods, and to produce three research papers (7,000 words) on topics of their choice and a dissertation (20,000 words) also on a topic of their choice.

(We presently do not accept any applications for the LLM by Research Papers).

Starting dates

The programme runs over one year. Candidates are encouraged to start in February, but a July start can also be authorised by the Dean of Law.

Broad research options

We cater for a wide variety of research interests and offer 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 topics for the LLM research papers and the dissertation may be in different subject areas or they may be broadly related but not overlapping.

Course structure

CapstoneSemester oneSemester two

LAWS 674

Dissertation 20,000 words +
Presentation (externally marked, 12-month duration)


LAWS 670 - Legal Research Methods

Taught course which involves two hours of class each week

LAWS 672 - Research Paper 2

7000 words paper

LAWS 671 - Research Paper 1

7000 words paper

LAWS 673 - Research Paper 3

7000 words paper

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.

The Faculty of Law 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 10 PhD students are studying in the Faculty of Law 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.

Entry requirements

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.

Regulations and guidelines


Apply for postgraduate study