Michael Carmody is graduate of the Bachelor of Laws (Law plus) LLB at the University of Limerick and is currently a student of the LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice at UL. He shares his experience of the masters programme, the UL School of Law and studying at UL.
What is unique about the LLM Human Rights in Criminal Justice programme?
For me, one of the major things is that you are given significant freedom to write and research on areas that you are really passionate about. We didn’t have that at undergraduate level. I also reckon that a lot of postgraduate courses don’t quite have the same level of leeway or scope for being able to follow the paths that you want to follow. It is unique because of the lecturers that are here and the Centre for Criminal Justice, UL and the School of Law is probably in a unique position in that particular area of expertise.
The lecturers are particularly interested and passionate, also they have written extensively in that area, so they are some of the best academics in the country in the areas of criminal justice, criminal law, criminology, and so on. I think that is a particularly unique aspect, which led the way in terms of postgraduate law in some Irish institutions in certain subjects such as criminology and victimology. Some of those modules aren’t often in any other institution in Ireland, which is particularly unique. I am particularly interested in the theoretical side of things, I found that very advantageous for me because those modules were really engaged with theory and how it then relates to practice.
I found that very advantageous for me because those modules were really engaged with theory and how it then relates to practice
Can you take us through a typical week on the LLM programme?
I am a part time student. Initially, last year, I planned to do it full time in one year and after three weeks I realised that I wasn’t certain that I could manage the work load on top of everything else outside of college. So then I switched to the part time course, I never have more than two modules to do in a semester. That would be either one day a week or two days a week in college, or it’s only four hours a week maximum of interaction hours but most of it is external research. Only 10/15% of the time is actually internal interaction with lecturers, the rest of it is independent research. It’s hard to say there is any standard week.
This semester, I am in on a Monday morning and I am also in on a Tuesday afternoon, I am able to slot everything else around that. It is very convenient. One of the things about studying law as opposed to other courses is that interaction hours aren’t that extensive compared to the Sciences, or Engineering, or other courses. It’s quite convenient to be able to place your routine around your college work. A set week for me varies, any day of the week I could be studying extensively on any of the subjects but it is quite flexible and it suits me and my lifestyle.
Can you tell us about your own personal experience of the course, the benefits/challenges etc?
I have loved the course from the very outset. I would have to say in about eighteen years of formal education, this is the first time where I’ve really began to have a passion for learning and be able to engage fully. Primarily, because it’s the area broadly speaking that I am very interested in. Legal philosophy or juris prudence is my main interest and I’m able to apply that to almost all of the modules I have taken. I can examine them from the theoretical standpoint and research and write in a particular topic that I am interested in. It has given me the freedom to do that.
I have loved the course from the very outset
I also like the assessment methods because it’s all through essays and presentations as opposed to end of semester exams. I found myself, that I can work a lot better when I have six to eight weeks to do an assignment because I am able to break it down, plan it out, engage with it and really think through things critically over an extensive period of time as opposed to having to sit down for a two hour exam, not knowing what is going to be in front of me and having to engage on the spur of the moment. Personally, I am much better equipped to write essays or write assignments as opposed to having to sit two hour exams.
Every assignment there is a challenge in terms of having to engage with a topic critically, having to engage with it on a deep level, having to form an argument, critique big concepts in any particular subject or any particular field. One of the main challenges is having to set my own schedule. Having to be disciplined and diligent about it, it is very easy to let weeks slip by without doing work Overall, it is challenging but enjoyable and manageable.
Would you recommend the LLM to others?
Yes, definitely, depending on their primary areas of interest. If you want to be an Academic or a legal researcher, an activist, a policy maker or if you want to get into politics or work for an NGO, the LLM is applicable. Even if you want to be a writer or a journalist it is very good because you are really working on the skills that you are going to be applying in those fields as well. I would advise it to a lot of people across a diverse spectrum of career possibilities and career avenues and interests.
If you want to be an Academic or a legal researcher, an activist, a policy maker or if you want to get into politics or work for an NGO, the LLM is applicable
What do you plan to do/have done post-graduation?
One of the options I am currently exploring is hopefully taking on a PhD in the foreseeable future. I don’t know for definite if I want to go down that line yet. Outside of college, I am running my own business which I set up in 2018, so trying to further expand that is a possibility after college as well. I don’t want to leave a gap like I did between my undergraduate and postgraduate, where I left the legal research. I want to continue it on straight away if I can.
There are a few other avenues that may interest me but I need to give them more sustained thought. Definitely a PhD in the area of legal political philosophy, more than likely looking at a concept like the rule of law. I have aspirations of becoming a writer or a politician. However, both are just pipe dreams at the moment and we also need more women as opposed to men in the latter profession.
To learn more about the LLM/MA Human Rights in Criminal Justice and to apply, please click here.