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    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.
    Photo of postgraduate Law students chatting in the Bartolomé House atrium

    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 a non common law jurisdiction, you’ll acquire a more in-depth knowledge of the law over a wide range of legal subjects. This extra depth and understanding will give you a head start in your career as a solicitor or barrister.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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
    Commercial Law

    This module aims to familiarise students with the basic doctrines and concepts in English commercial law, the skills to apply these concepts to novel factual scenarios, and the ability to critically evaluate them from a doctrinal and theoretical perspective. The module will teach students the main concepts and principles of commercial law and how they are used to structure and facilitate a range of common commercial transactions.  Transactions/ issues considered could include, for example, the interpretation of contractual terms, the laws of agency, secured transactions, and the laws on assignment.  It will also examine legal doctrines critically and equip students with the ability to evaluate and critique commercial law concepts from a variety of perspectives.

    20 credits
    Consumer Law

    This module introduces students to the legal and policy frameworks for consumer protection in English law. The module is designed to answer two key questions: (1) Why should consumers be protected? and (2) How are consumers protected? 

    To answer these questions, the module aims to enable students to understand and critically evaluate certain lines of enquiry. First, the module considers the competing theoretical rationales and policy justifications for consumer protection. Second, it examines the institutions, instruments and techniques adopted to protect consumers. Third, the module analyses key statutory provisions aimed at protecting the economic interests of consumers in contractual relationships and the substantive conduct requirements imposed on traders they transact with. Fourth, the module considers how consumer protection laws are enforced in England. 

    Finally, the module aims to provide students with an opportunity to conduct independent research and to communicate their findings and arguments on relevant issues in consumer law.

    Overall, the module is designed to provide students with an opportunity to critically engage with the law's role in championing specific policy priorities where traditional private law mechanisms are limited or inadequate.  

    20 credits
    Restorative Justice

    Restorative justice is increasingly being adopted by countries around the world to deal with offending and to respond to victims of criminal offences. This module explores the development of restorative justice in theory and practice and seeks to understand the contemporary popularity of restorative justice. It considers the appeal of restorative justice to a variety of stakeholders (including offenders, victims and the wide community) and in a variety of jurisdictions, including England and Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as mainland Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America. It looks at whether restorative justice can and should be used for more serious offences and for adult offenders. It also examines the effectiveness of restorative justice interventions and how this has been assessed by researchers.

    20 credits
    Foundations of Company Law

    This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the legislative, contractual and equitable aspects of company law. The main focus of the module will be on the legal principles governing the establishment, operation and management of companies, including: the effects of the separate legal entity status of companies; the role of the board of directors; the rights and responsibilities of shareholders; creditor rights; and remedies.

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


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


    You’ll attend compulsory seminars plus optional lectures.


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


    School of Law

    Three postgraduate students walking up the staircase of Bartolomé House

    At the School of Law, you will learn to identify and address the complex legal, moral, ethical and social questions that underpin the law. You will be taught by academics, some of whom are practising legal professionals, that are researching at the cutting edge of law and criminology. Our commitment to research-informed teaching means their discoveries become yours, as this research filters into teaching.

    Our courses have been developed in consultation with the legal profession and have a strong international focus to develop you into a highly employable graduate. Top law firms regularly visit us to meet our students and take a hands-on approach by contributing to your wider education. They also interview our high-achieving students for jobs.

    Our school is acclaimed for its exceptional research performance, aided by our world-leading academics, as well as our pioneering research centres and projects. 91% of our research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021, meaning it is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

    We endeavour to help you build the employability skills that employers value. At the School of Law we have a dedicated pro bono centre offering you a range of practical experiences. You will have the opportunity to work in our FreeLaw Clinic, fight injustice with our Criminal Justice Initiative and Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre, and gain work experience with our commercial clinic for start up businesses, CommLaw, delivering legal advice on commercial legal issues.

    You can also provide practice support to litigants in person with Support Through Court and have the opportunity to get involved with local projects and charities such as Victim Support and Citizen’s Advice Sheffield.

    You’ll be based at Bartolomé House, where you will learn through a variety of lectures, tutorials, seminars, and group work. You can also enhance your degree by taking advantage of our careers and employability sessions and there are also a variety of student societies that you might join. This includes the student-run Edward Bramley Law Society.

    Entry requirements

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

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    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.

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


    You can apply now 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.