2022 start September 


School of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences

This MA is designed for graduates who don’t have a law degree. You’ll develop an in-depth knowledge of the English legal system.
Image of students studying

Course description

This masters qualification covers the seven foundations of legal knowledge subjects as well as the skills associated with graduate legal work such as legal research.

The seven foundations of legal knowledge subjects are:

  • criminal law
  • equity and trusts
  • law of the European Union
  • contract
  • tort
  • property/land law
  • public law

If you’re not a law graduate, or you have a law degree from outside England and Wales, you’ll acquire a more in-depth knowledge of the law over a much wider range of legal subjects than is offered on one year Graduate Diploma in Law programmes. This extra depth and understanding will give you a head start in your career as a solicitor or barrister.

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The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Core modules:

Understanding Law and Legal Systems

This module is one of the first taught on the MA (Law) programme and is designed to achieve a number of different objectives. In essence, its main role is to introduce students to the topic of law, and to encourage them to think creatively about the purpose of law. In addition, students will be taught basic legal skills and given an introduction into the legal systems and materials that they will be dealing with throughout the remainder of the degree.

Legal Research & Writing Skills

This module introduces students to the basic skills of legal research and legal writing, both essays and problem solving. The module includes lectures by academic staff, library staff and on-line specialists, hands-on workshops and structured seminars. The modules also covers referencing and the use of unfair means. Students are given formative feedback on essays. Students are introduced to the skills necessary to give effective oral presentations. Time will also be given to self-reflect on future employment opportunities.

Constitutional Law

This module comprises three sections. In the first theoretical ideas as to the ideal design of constitutions are developed. This is followed in the second section by coverage of the constitutional arrangements of the UK and of the EU, as well as the constitutional relationship between them. In the remainder of the module some of the more significant and controversial aspects of the constitution are studied in more detail, leading to a discussion of the general principles of administrative law.

Contract Law

The module examines which agreements the law recognises as legally binding, how such agreements are formed, how their terms are determined and how they may be varied, the consequences of impropriety, such as improper pressure by one party during negotiations, and what happens when one party is in breach of their obligations under the contract. The module examines some current initiatives to harmonise contract laws within Europe and around the world. Contract is a core module for professional legal purposes; it underpins a number of other legal subjects, and provides an opportunity to study a prime example of judge-made rules. 

Administrative Law

Administrative law builds upon the themes dealt with in constitutional law, although the focus is somewhat different as much of the module centres around judicial review. However, care is taken to ensure that administrative law principles are seen within their political and social context, and that due weight is attached to the other means of resolving grievances against the state. In addition, we will be considering how far legal techniques are actually used in the development and implementation of governmental policy and to what extent this allows for democratic participation in decision-making and accountability after decisions are taken.

Law of Crime

The Law of Crime is a foundational module for professional purposes. It is concerned with the principles which govern the circumstances in which a person can be found guilty of a criminal act or omission. In doing this, the module provides an analysis of some of the most important criminal offences. It also considers when a person can escape liability by pleading defences, among others, insanity, diminished responsibility and intoxication. The module aims to comply with the pedagogic aims of the Masters degree and to inculcate an appreciation of the general principles of and a selection of offences in criminal law.

Law of Torts

This module will examine the tort of negligence, concentrating on the principles of duty of care and breach of duty, focusing on the tensions raised by issues such as liability for economic loss and psychiatric injury, and also on the complex problems of proving causation. It will also look at the place of torts law within the law of obligations. It will consider the effectiveness of the torts system in light of the concept of vicarious liability, the available defences, the law of damages, and the policy considerations involved. Torts to be studied will vary each semester and could include occupiers' liability, nuisance, products liability, trespass and defamation.

Equity and Trusts

This module develops the student's understanding of the nature of equitable rights, doctrines, processes, and remedies in domestic law. Particular attention is devoted to the creation of trusts, both private and charitable, to variation of trusts, and to the administrative powers of trustees and their personal liability for breach of trust. The relationship between constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel is considered, as is the relationship between equitable principles and the law of restitution. Amongst equitable remedies considered are specific performance and injunctions. The process of tracing (including a comparison with tracing at common law) is also analysed.

Law of Property

This module introduces the student to the general concepts of the law of property and develops these with particular reference to land law. The unit examines the nature of property rights, their creation and transfer, the distinction between legal estates and legal and equitable interests, the creation and protection of the rights of third parties, both of a commercial nature (including easements and restrictive covenants) and of a family nature (such as rights arising under a trust). The module considers both unregistered and registered systems of titles to land, and co-ownership of land. Leases, commonhold, and mortgages are also analysed.


Students must complete a 10,000 word dissertation on a legal topic of their choice. The dissertation gives the student the opportunity to explore an area of their interest in some depth. To achieve a masters standard the student is required to demonstrate an up-to-date critical analysis of the topic chosen for discussion. Students cannot achieve a masters degree unless they successfully complete the dissertation

Optional modules - example modules:

Advanced EU Law

This module is one of the core/optional foundation subjects of the Qualifying Law Degree programmes offered by Sheffield Law School. Building on `Public Law in the UK and the EU¿, it explores the institutional structure and legal framework of the EU, as well as its substantive law. The module offers a distinct perspective on the dynamics of the EU, focusing on fundamental rights, the internal market and citizenship. Students will engage with Treaty provisions, EU legislation and cases, and practise a range of legal skills in applying EU law to concrete situations, thereby developing their employability.

20 credits
Punishment and Penal Policy

This module is concerned with the sentencing and punishment of offenders. It considers, in historical context: the philosophical underpinnings of punishment; sentencing policy and practice; and the forms that punishment takes (including custodial and non-custodial options). It also considers what we know about public attitudes toward punishment. A key issue addressed by this module is the rapid growth of the prison population since the mid-1990s: how can we explain this state of affairs, and can/should this trend be reversed?

20 credits
The Law Relating to Public Companies

This module introduces students to the law and governance of public companies through an interdisciplinary lens. Students learn about the different theories about the purpose of corporations in society and the different conceptions of corporate governance. This theoretical framework is then used as the basis for a critical exploration of a number of topical aspects of company law and corporate governance, including soft law, corporate social responsibility, information disclosure, insider dealing and market abuse, corporate finance, takeovers and executive remuneration.

20 credits
International Human Rights Law

Protecting human rights is an increasingly important concern of international law in the modern world. Understanding its significance involves knowing what the current guarantees of human rights are and how arrangements for protecting them work. This module provides a broad but selective survey of issues in this field, examining the main human rights treaties and reviewing the procedures for implementing them, in the United Nations, through regional institutions, and elsewhere.

20 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.


You’ll attend compulsory seminars plus optional lectures.


You’ll be assessed on your essays, examinations and a dissertation.


  • 2 years full-time
  • 3 years part-time

Student profiles

The engaging teaching – our tutors’ enthusiasm and passion for the subjects they teach is evident through everything they do, as is their expertise. The variety of teaching and learning methods, from optional lectures to seminars to workshops, both tutor and student-led, ensures that no topic ever becomes stagnant.

Christopher Hardy
MA Law

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 honours degree in any subject, but we’ll consider each application on its own merits, including your career background.

Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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