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Claudia Scheufler graduated from the International Law LLM

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Filed under: Alumni - LLM in International Law, Law

Claudia Scheufler graduated from the International Law LLM, and now works for Amnesty International, focusing on issues in Syria and Lebanon

I was living in Sydney, Australia, , when I decided to apply for a Masters course and I hardly knew anything about the universities in London or the academic system here. From the various universities I contacted, I found Westminster to be the most helpful and well organised. I then looked up the profiles of the professors that would teach my course and made my decision based on this.

I was not sure what to expect when I applied but before I accepted the offer, I was a little apprehensive about the cost of the course as it was quite significantly cheaper than some of the other universities in London. But looking back, I’m so pleased I completed my course at Westminster; the teaching quality was excellent, the teaching staff were leading professionals in their field and dedicated to bringing out the best in the students, and the course content was well designed and encouraged students to ‘think outside the box’. The facilities of the Law campus are not amazing but completely sufficient.

I found all the lecturers and tutors very helpful, accessible and genuinely interested in helping students to learn to the best of their abilities. My dissertation supervisor in particular was really helpful and assisted me with advice and encouragement through a variety of minor and major moments of panic.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the classes and the readings, which were super interesting and encouraged creative legal thinking. The other students in my class were also great, everyone was dedicated to learning but still fun and sociable, and whenever I had a problem there was always someone around to help out. On the induction day the Dean of the Law School said in his speech that we should look around the room as some of these people would be our friends for life, and I remember thinking ‘yeah, whatever’, but he was actually right.

It’s rather cool to be in London as a Masters student, having a reasonably flexible schedule with time off in the afternoons. There are excellent libraries, so sometimes I enjoyed spending a few hours at the British Library or the LSE library. For international law in particular there are also events taking place at organisations such as Chatham House or the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and it’s great to be able to attend those and keep up with international law developments. There are also a lot of interesting places around to do internships or volunteering. Most of the galleries and museums in London are free and there are often interesting exhibitions. And of course the university is close to Oxford Street, so there are ample opportunities for shopping. Basically, I have not found anything that I wanted to do and was not able to in London – including, for example, music festivals, joining a surf club and learning how to fence.

During the second half of my Masters I started working in an admin role at Amnesty International. A few months after graduation I moved into an assistant position in their Middle East research department, where I’m still working and which I thoroughly enjoy. Having a solid understanding of public international law really is essential for all aspects of my work, as, in my opinion, it is impossible to successfully campaign against and research human rights violations without understanding the basics of international law. In addition to that, the other units I’ve taken, including research methodology, international humanitarian law and international criminal law, have also proven very helpful in my current role, where I am dealing with conflict and non-conflict related international law violations on a daily basis.

The course has also been a good foundation for the additional academic study that I’ve undertaken after graduating. Last year, I completed a specialised Postgraduate Diploma in International Humanitarian Law, which was easy for me to follow while working full-time as I had already gained a good understanding of the issues around this during my Masters. I have also completed a number of short courses, and I’m currently studying Arabic and French. In short, virtually everything I learned during the course has come in handy at some point.

If I was to give advice to anyone thinking of studying their LLM at the University of Westminster, I think I would quite simply say: “Do it!” Of course I would tell them to also consider general career aspirations, research interests and potential dissertation supervisors, and what they overall hope to gain from their course. If they want to take a year off and party in London, I would not recommend Westminster, as the course did require a lot of work (at least for me). But if they want to learn, then it’s a great place.

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