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Emina Zahirovic. LLM in International Law at the University of Westminster

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

Emina Zahirovic completed her LLM in International Law at the University of Westminster, and  joined international legal firm BDK Advokati/Attorneys at Law at its Banja Luka office in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Emina got a scholarship to Westminster, graduating in November 2013.  She looks back to her time living and studying with other students which she remembers as one of the best experiences of her life. 

When I was looking for a masters course I was looking for specific modules that I wanted to study – international human rights law, and humanitarian law – and when I was comparing universities in London, Westminster was the only one which offered both of these modules on the one course, so it was the best option for me.

I looked at the ratings, the teaching profiles, the facilities and all the other things that Westminster offered, and it all looked good, but it was the course content which was the most important for me; I didn’t want to settle for something else, I really wanted to study those modules.

It was my first time studying in the UK, and both the location and the University really lived up to my expectations. Because the University is based in central London it’s easy to get to know the city. And everyone is really helpful at Westminster – starting from the School registry to the professors and the staff, everyone is there to help you out. We were all international students, and we were struggling a little bit with our English at the beginning, but everyone helped us out.

The way we were taught, and the way we were able to study, was one of the highlights of the course for me. Here in Bosnia the focus is much more on memorising facts and the classical exam styles; at Westminster it was much more about research and original coursework. It definitely taught me how to think, rather than what to think. The people on the course also helped to make it an amazing experience.

I learned so much, and I loved being at Westminster; I had really wanted to study in London for years, so this was a dream come true for me.

The position I’ve taken up now with BDK has more of a focus on corporate and commercial law, which is not quite the area that I was studying for. I thought it might be a problem for me to find a job in a branch of law outside of human rights or humanitarian law, but in the end, studying at the University of Westminster really went in my favour when it came to applying for the post.

I would definitely advise anyone thinking of studying law at Westminster to go for it – the facilities, the libraries and the access to things are amazing. Perhaps the best advice for international students would be to do the short course before you start your LLM, just to get used to the way you need to write, the form, and the legal English you need to know. I think that’s the one thing that could have made a big difference – if I had done the introductory course, I think I would have got even more out of my LLM.

And if you want to make the most of the social life, then live in halls of residence – that was also one of the best experiences of my life. I lived in Wigram House; I made so many friends, it was so easy to get adjusted to London, to overcome that culture shock, and you never feel lonely… it makes me want to go back to London right now!

Ademilola Yerokun graduated (with a Distinction) from the International Law LLM course 

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Ademilola Yerokun graduated (with a Distinction) from the International Law LLM course 

I chose to study at Westminster because the website and brochure had a comprehensive explanation of the course details and structure; I knew what I was going into even before I had started the course. The fees were very reasonable and the location was very central and easily accessible for me.

The structure of the course was fantastic. We had seminars which were incorporated into the lectures, and I referred to them as ‘leminars’. This meant that participation was actively encouraged which created a very positive learning environment. The resources including books and teaching facilities that were available to me for the duration of the course were adequate, and my lecturers and tutors were very professional and friendly. I have since returned to Westminster for further studies and I have seen some of my tutors from the LLM and have been able to approach them for a friendly chat.

As a postgraduate course, I was required to do my independent study in order to be able to participate fully in the class. Completing the course with a Distinction affirmed my decision to have a career in Law. Since I graduated I have been working but I am now currently back at the University of Westminster studying the Legal Practice Course on a part-time basis.

The advice I would you give to anyone thinking of studying for their LLM at the University of Westminster is to go for it – you will get value for your money. But make sure you also prepare to work hard and participate in class. This will ultimately be to your advantage when you have to write your essays and exams.

Claudia Scheufler graduated from the International Law LLM

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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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.