Students’ views (part-time LLB)
Programme Director James Slater introduces and describes the Part-time LLB:
Anne Swetnam (LLB 2018)
“I joined the part-time LLB course in September 2013. I was looking to fill the gap that was going to be left once my daughter went to university. As a more mature student (then aged 51), I wondered if I would be able to keep to cope with a return to study. However, once I had a few assignments under my belt, there was no stopping me. I loved every minute of the course and really appreciated the time the tutors took to explain difficult and pivotal cases in depth. I enjoyed being at university so much that I became the Part-time law student representative for two years. This meant being the eyes and ears of the course and attending Law Board meetings of behalf of the part-time students. It was very rewarding.
Exploring different options for a legal career, I submitted my CV to the Civil Service Graduate Fast Stream in 2017. I was subsequently offered a position at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, right in the heart of the judiciary. As it happened, during the previous summer, I had travelled to London to visit The Old Bailey and The Royal Courts of Justice with a fellow part-time student, Lucy. We looked around the RCJ and popped our heads into the magnificent court rooms. It never occurred to me that, just a year later, I would be working there!
I currently work as part of the small but expanding Judicial Office Courts and Tribunals Reform team, working with the highest-ranking judges of the land on a daily basis. The Reform programme is a six year, £1bn transformation of the courts and tribunals of the UK and is due to be completed in 2022. The aim of the Reform programme is to safeguard the rule of law and to make justice more accessible to all, whilst at the same time maintaining the constitutional independence of the judiciary. I currently liaise with judges from the five jurisdictions: civil, family, tribunals, crime and magistrates and co-ordinate and action their viewpoints and suggestions on Reform. It’s really fascinating work and a great privilege to be involved in such a significant and important overhaul of the judicial system. No two days are the same and I have finally got used to starting most of my emails with ‘Dear Judge’.
Apart from working in a beautiful building, one perk of working at RCJ is that we are invited to see the swearing in of judges. So far, I have been in court for the swearing in of the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Justice Singh. The wooden panelled courts are steeped in history and the events are always colourful and full of pomp and ceremony. It’s a totally different and intriguing world and my journey to this world began with my part-time LLB at the University of Buckingham.”
Adam Sargent (LLB 2015)
“I was approaching the end of my schooling years and was at a real crossroads with my future aspirations. I had studied law at both GCSE and A Level and had a desire to further my legal knowledge. It was through a friend of the family that I learnt about the University of Buckingham’s Part-time Law Programme. This programme instantly resonated with me, as I was able to “earn and learn”. At that time, I was acutely conscious of the struggles students faced finding employment after graduation, especially the need to provide evidence of work experience. Therefore, the idea of earning whilst learning seemed like a fantastic opportunity to further my education and develop my workplace skills.
The course itself was exceptionally well structured and every lecturer has a real passion for the subject they teach. They were also approachable throughout the programme, whether this was via email, phone or face to face meetings. Buckingham truly offers an open-door policy, which created a constructive learning environment.
I would be lying if I didn’t say the course is challenging, not only on an intellectual level, but also with time management. However, whilst on the course you create a strong bond with the other students and they become a fundamental support structure throughout the challenging times. Further to this, you will study with a variety of people with a vast and varied employment history. I believe this is one of the best attributes in studying on the part-time programme. You can guarantee that on every area of law, somebody in your class will have a life experience of it. This creates a special and realistic understanding of the law, and allows you to apply the academics to real-life situations.
Since graduating from the University of Buckingham, I have secured a place on a prestigious graduate employment scheme at Heathrow Airport. The part-time programme provided me with career building foundations, and opened up career paths that would not have been available to me otherwise.
Whether you are considering the course after school like me, or as career progression, I really couldn’t recommend the course higher. You will be met with a fantastic group of lecturers, resources and a desire from the University to succeed. I simply cannot recommend the part-time programme enough.”
Belinda Hamilton (LLB 2017)
“I left school without taking any qualifications and had always felt that I never knew my academic capabilities. I spent my adult life wanting that piece of paper that stated that demonstrated what I was academically capable of achieving. In every job application and subsequent interview I had to explain my reasons for not taking qualifications and explain how, although I lacked the qualifications, I was more than capable of carrying out the role I was applying for.
When my children went to school, I went to college to train to be a hairdresser to enable me to work around them. I trained for three years but found that I had enjoyed the studying far more than hairdressing itself. Very soon after I went to work in adult education but my desire to learn was still in the back of my mind, although I had no idea how to do this without school qualifications.
One of my friends was studying Law part-time at the University of Buckingham and I saw the commitment required but also how rewarding he was finding the course, so I took the plunge and applied; all the time thinking I would be refused due to my lack of academic qualifications. I admit that on paper I would have questioned my capability to succeed in studying for a Law Degree and I clearly remember promising the lecturer that “If you give me a place on the course, you WILL see me graduate!” Thankfully Buckingham takes life experiences into consideration as well as my interview and I was given a place on the LLB part-time course. The course was fascinating, I was learning so many things and I loved every minute of it. We were taught all of the skills required to succeed with support when required for the assignments as well as the exams.
The four years of the course flew and although the subject matter is in depth and not always easy to grasp initially, the support was excellent and I found I was growing so much in both knowledge, understanding and most of all academic confidence. It is still difficult to explain the euphoria I felt at not only passing the course, but being awarded a 2:1 and finally I have the piece of paper I craved throughout my adult life.
Since passing the course, I have been promoted at work from an Administrator to Contracts & Legal Specialist, in charge of reviewing all internal and external contracts and terms and conditions. I am also dealing with both Company and the legal elements of Human Resources and have also applied to be a Magistrate. I am also going to study the Level 7 Advanced CIPD Diploma in September.
Studying Law at the University of Buckingham has been the most amazing experience which not only provided me with the knowledge I needed to advance my career, but it gave me the confidence and self-belief to finally know my own ability.”
“The subject of law, and its impact on societies and businesses, has always fascinated me. However, due to entering the job market very young and focusing my studies on professional development around business, manufacturing and supply chain, I was unable to study law until later in my career, which brought me to the part-time LLB at Buckingham.
The University of Buckingham’s part-time law degree programme has enabled me to complete a high-quality LLB delivered by superb lecturers in a very stimulating environment. Furthermore, as the LLB is versatile, and equips students with a broad skill set to apply to every business relation (understanding of legal processes, logical reasoning, critical thinking and analysis capabilities), it has been very beneficial in furthering my career, has definitely set me apart and, finally, has given me a unique perspective on my line of business.
The programme has also given me with an opportunity to go into postgraduate studies, as I am now on a PhD programme sponsored by my employers, exploring the relations between new business models and law.
I strongly recommend this LLB programme to all my colleagues and friends. And this recommendation applies as much to those such as myself, who are not interested in practising law, as to those who are contemplating a career in law.
I really enjoyed the course, meeting my fellow students and the lecturers, and above all, the challenges along the way and the great feeling of achievement in the end of it.”
“Although originally intending to go to university immediately after school, life and health got in the way. I was lucky enough to be taken on in a law firm as a paralegal and never lost sight of my dream of being a solicitor. It was my employer who suggested that I consider the University of Buckingham’s part-time Law degree as this offered the qualification I wanted with exceptionally high quality teaching. She had also done her degree at Buckingham and being the head of a successful department in a large firm in Milton Keynes, I was happy to follow her advice. Whilst the prospect of completing a 4 year degree part-time whilst also holding down a demanding job was daunting, after I met with the Director of the programme to discuss the course I was certain it was the right decision.
The degree was definitely challenging – at times it was difficult to balance the demands of work, home life and the course but the lecturers and support you get are top class and the rewards, both in the qualification and the friendships that are made, are immense. The course is a great mix of home-study, the pre-reading and assignments, and, the most important feature, face-to-face seminars on Wednesday evenings. These seminars are a fantastic opportunity to reinforce what you have learnt and also debate the issues with your fellow students and lecturers.
I am exceptionally proud to have obtained my degree from the University of Buckingham. It has allowed me to qualify as a solicitor and I am currently working in practice with the same employer who originally encouraged me to take the plunge and who now runs Purcell solicitors in Milton Keynes. I also made many great friendships I would not change the way I qualified for anything – doing the degree part-time whilst working allowed me to gain valuable work experience alongside the vital qualification and in the current climate this was invaluable.”
“As somebody whose school days are a faded memory, I began the part time LLB course with a degree of uncertainty, obsolete studying skills and, if I am honest, a bit of a lack of discipline.
I did not anticipate that the course would provide not just legal knowledge, but a whole set of tools with which to better myself and improve my career prospects.
The early course lectures start by addressing basic study skills, and pretty soon you find your feet. Once up and running you find that you have pet subjects (perhaps not the ones you might have guessed you would enjoy) and favourite tutors who just seem to explain things in a way that makes the penny drop. Hopefully something extra-curricular will grab you too – for me it was mooting which satisfied my argumentative streak!
You will definitely make friends across diverse ages and backgrounds, each of them united with you by the bonds of finally decoding that cryptic text book passage together, or reassuring each other over that looming essay deadline.
I won’t pretend the course was not tough. I studied the course whilst working full-time, bringing up our own young family and also being a foster carer. There are times when you have to muster every ounce of self-motivation to remain mentally focussed after a hard day’s work.
But like all things in life that demand this level of personal investment, the rewards that you reap and the confidence you gain from your achievement are incomparable. You will emerge with a sound knowledge of the law across your subjects, an analytical approach and (in my case) better studying, organisational and time management skills.
Personally speaking, the course has been an important step on a career path in the law which has taken me into employment and tax tribunals as an advocate, and ultimately to starting a successful firm which now employs 10 staff.”
Nigel Smith (LLB 2013)
“I left school at 15 with a minimum of qualifications. Formal education wasn’t ‘my thing’ and it was always expected that I would follow a non-vocational apprenticeship, which I did in mechanical engineering. Thirty years on, I found myself in a senior managerial position at an industrial conglomerate, negotiating and signing contracts in excess of £5M in the oil and gas sector. Both my children were by then pretty much grown, and so for the first time in decades I could focus on how I was going to spend my free time.
It was my employer who first spoke to me about returning to education. It was pointed out that, without a degree, I’d probably reached a ceiling in my career and that, in signing contracts on the company’s behalf with significant potential liabilities, it might be useful if I actually understood what they meant!
A law degree by part-time study was the only option as I had to continue the day job. I looked nationally for a programme because my job meant I could study anywhere in the UK. The course at the University of Buckingham fitted the bill perfectly, with one seminar a week combined with home study that I could do whilst travelling. It appealed to me by being both exam and assignment based, giving me a chance to succeed across the whole year as job demands ebbed and flowed.
There are three things I want to say about the part-time LLB at the University of Buckingham. First, the teaching material and modules, written by the staff, are invaluable; the best, most pertinent and concise learning material I have ever come across. Secondly, the staff will see you through! My personal and working life changed significantly over the four year course and there were some tough times, but the lecturers made sure I made it through to the next round, however much I questioned my own resolve! And last but not least, the camaraderie that is encouraged and develops between the students is a huge plus point. I have made some lifelong friends.
I’m now the only member of my family with a degree, something I never thought as a teenager I’d want or get! But I’m exceptionally proud that I did it, and what I learnt I use every day in my job. I can’t recommend the part-time LLB at the University of Buckingham enough.”
Nicola Maynard (LLB 2013)
“From a young age I had an interest in the criminal law and my ambition was to practise as a solicitor in this field. I also knew when I left school that I didn’t want to take the conventional route of full-time university. Instead, I secured a position at a law firm as a receptionist at the age of 17. I made good progress and, in 2001, joined the Criminal Litigation Department as a paralegal. My supervising partner encouraged me to undertake my police station accreditation. Once this was finished he and another colleague, who had studied at Buckingham, spoke to me about undertaking the part-time Law degree at Buckingham. I submitted my application, met with the course director and was offered a place.
This proved the perfect time for me to undertake the degree, allowing me to draw on life and work experiences whilst continuing to do the job I loved. The course is challenging and demanding but the course director and lecturers are all very supportive and, with their support and the support of fellow students, it was made considerably easier.
I am now undertaking my Legal Practice Course (LPC) part-time simultaneously with my Training Contract at a leading criminal law firm. This combination is possible because of the existence of the Part Time Study Training Contract. This option is perfect for those already working in law firms, as it allows you to run your Training Contract concurrently with your study and, for me, means I will qualify as a solicitor on completing my LPC.
For me the Buckingham part-time Law degree was absolutely perfect for my purposes and has allowed me to fulfil my ambitions.”
Samantha Wilson (LLB 2006)
“After having children at a relatively young age and prioritising my family commitments over my own ambitions for some years, it was always my plan to return to education and study for a Law degree, with the aim of being a solicitor. The part-time course at Buckingham enabled me to put my plan in action, even when combined with a job and three children. Over the four years, the course was intensive and challenging, but it never felt overwhelming. This was due to the quality and calibre of the lecturers as well as the support from the other students on the course. The course required hard work and self–discipline, but was immensely worthwhile and satisfying.
For me, achieving a First Class LLB (Hons) at Buckingham gave me the tools I needed to complete my LPC at the College of Law whilst simultaneously undertaking a part-time training contract with Franklins Solicitors. I finally qualified as a solicitor in September 2008 into the Private Client team at Franklins. I specialise in Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection applications and Trusts. I have continued to study and achieved membership of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners in 2011. As well as dealing with a wide range of private clients, Franklins also encourages our team to offer support to local charities and groups and I have had the opportunity to work with charities such as Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Mencap.
For me, the Buckingham experience has been life changing in the best possible way.”
Tamara Barbeary (LLB 2010)
“It had long been a personal ambition to study for a law degree, but being a working mother of three children, I knew that a full-time course would not be possible. When I found out that I could study for the LLB (Hons) (a law degree) part-time at Buckingham, I was delighted and decided to take the plunge.
The subjects are varied and the lecturers bring them to life in the weekly seminars. There is also a good network of support amongst the students and a strong sense of camaraderie. There is no doubt that the course is tough but the lecturers are of such a high calibre, they inspire you to push on and succeed. Balancing a job and family with studying many evenings and weekends was extremely challenging; it required a great deal of self-discipline, but it can be done and is extremely rewarding.
I graduated with First Class Honours in 2010 and went on to complete the Legal Practice Course in Oxford. I started my legal career in Banking & Finance Litigation in an Oxfordshire based firm as a paralegal. In 2012, I moved to Darbys Solicitors in Oxford where I work in the Clinical Negligence department, with a focus on costs recovery, while waiting to start my training contract in September. My decision to study law at Buckingham has changed my life and opened up opportunities that I did not have when I was younger. I simply cannot recommend the part-time programme enough.”
Laura Vasiliu (LLB 2011)
“Why did I choose to join the Buckingham part-time law degree? Partly because I knew it has a very good reputation, and partly because I was convinced that it had to offer the most stimulating, intellectual and diverse environment…. and I wasn’t wrong!
As a foreigner living in the UK and looking to take a degree, I also wanted to have the opportunity to be part of a relatively small and intimate programme so that I would feel included, rather than just being anonymous, and I am glad to say that this has been my experience from the first moment I entered the Buckingham University premises. The tutors are a true inspiration and it’s a privilege to share the passion with which they teach.
I found that the support given every step of the way and the resources provided are fantastic to help you to achieve the best of you at all times, especially for a foreign student such as myself.
My experience so far as a law student has been very challenging, but it has been worth it. Despite the commitments and high demands I have towards my job, I have found that working with passionate people and receiving their encouragement is very rewarding.
So I encourage you to step in regardless of what you plan to do after law school, as the moments and experiences here will remain with you for life.”
Rita Acquaah (LLB 2010)
“I had always wanted to do a degree programme but the last thing on my mind was to pursue a daunting course like a law degree. My main challenge was to find something that would allow me to continue working full-time, study and attend lectures without compromising on my working hours. After a lot of research, I found that the part-time law degree with the University of Buckingham would meet all my needs. I must say I was very reluctant to take on a programme which I knew would be time-consuming and required me to commit 4 years. However, the person I spoke to at the University encouraged me to take up the course and, after serious thoughts, I decided to give it a try.
I have not regretted my decision. The lecturers simplify the course. I have enjoyed every subject I have been taught. Also, the written support modules are very helpful, which is one of the advantages of pursuing the part-time degree with the University of Buckingham especially when working full-time. The Wednesday seminars are brilliant. It is not a lecture. We have very practical and interesting discussions.
I am currently working in the Charity sector. The programme has given me a very wide understanding of the work we do, not to mention the confidence I have gained and am still gaining! Friends are already asking me for legal opinions! As to the future prospects I can already foresee job opportunities within my organisation but also beyond. If you are thinking of pursuing a career alongside working, I will certainly recommend this course. No doubt the thought of exams is intimidating, but they take place only once a year and the lecturers ensure you are very well prepared for them. I have often asked tutors for help via email, and their prompt responses are always appreciated, especially where EU law is concerned!”
Clarence Philipneri (LLB 2010)
“The law has always fascinated me, but my training was in accountancy and so my interest was more or less amateur in nature. However, my ongoing role as the Regional Financial Controller for a blue chip company and my regular contact with clients and suppliers involves complex legal and contractual matters, and this made me think seriously about a legal qualification.
As a result, I decided to join the Buckingham 4-year part-time law degree. I have found the tutorials to be of a very high quality and the study modules extremely useful. The tutors are supportive and provide useful feedback, go through past exam papers and provide some useful tips in dealing with both problem and essay questions. Assignments throughout the academic year to strict deadlines keep the students focused and ready for the exams that take place in the summer.
The part-time students sit for the same exams as the full-time students and overall I would say that Buckingham provides a highly focused qualifying law degree. Although privately funded, as an accountant I can certainly say it is ‘value for money’ and has helped me considerably in my career.”
Michael Chambers (LLB 2009)
“I have been a Project Manager for over 10 years, managing many complex initiatives for various blue chip organisations. However, about 5 years ago, I realised there was a gap in my range of skills, and that gap was legal know-how. I felt I would be in greater control of my projects if I also had a good understanding of their legal dimensions. This insight brought me to Buckingham Law School, and its 4-year Part-time Law degree.
When I embarked on my law degree at Buckingham Law School, I was delivering projects that involved increasing dependence of legal factors. I have found that the Buckingham Law degree has played a significant role in my ability to assess the implications of these legal factors, not least because they no longer seem like double Dutch, allowing me to interact meaningfully with my lawyers and actively contribute to the solution of problems raised by legal regulation. Combining legal skills with my traditional delivery skills has made me a more versatile and resourceful manager.”
Maggie Ryde (LLB 2006)
“During my business career I have developed my various skills through maintaining a continuous programme of study relating either to my direct job function or to the interests of the Company that employs me, mainly relating to Health and Safety, Human Resources and Commercial Contract. This led me to the further need to understand more of the legal aspects associated with each of these areas.
Clearly the first year of such an intensive course was rather daunting due to me being so much older (50+), however, with masses of support from the lecturers and of course my fellow students I quickly learnt that by working in small groups of like-minded students of various ages it was possible to bring together a structure to the learning process that helped put things into perspective. I am now approaching the end of the programme and consider that whilst the intensity remains constant the acquisition of knowledge has become more fluid in most areas.”
Marcia Killen (LLB 2007)
“Working at a solicitor’s office as a legal secretary I was persuaded to study for the examinations with the Institute of Legal Executives. It fitted in nicely with my work commitments and young family as I studied by way of a correspondence course.
My family are all grown up and I now have time to pursue my own interests. I have always regretted being a rebellious teenager and not going to University so I decided to do a part-time Law degree. I wanted to attend a course where I could interact with other students and lecturers this time.
I remember reading the student comments in the Prospectus I received and I particularly remember how enthusiastic they all were. I have to say that the enthusiasm is contagious.
From the moment you walk in the door for your Induction Evening you are greeted by members of staff who are all passionate about their subjects. They inspire you with their enthusiasm and bring to life their subject with discussions based around real-life cases in the seminars. You cannot fail to be inspired.
It all seemed a bit daunting at first but I soon settled into the routine of reading in preparation for the next seminar. I find the seminars put the coursework into perspective and help me understand a subject more clearly. Fellow classmates are very supportive and the staff are always on hand to help you out if they can. Everyone wants you to succeed.
I expect I will always dread the exams – but I really do enjoy the course.”
Ian Mackenzie (LLB 2008)
“Law is traditionally a demanding and highly challenging discipline, requiring time consuming extensive library based research and study. Which would make studying Law part-time in addition to work or family commitments almost impossible. Thankfully, this is not an issue with the Buckingham course as all student are supplied with comprehensive module materials, which include all the relevant cases and references to further reading, which is also provided. So even the student on the tightest time schedule will be able to manage the reading commitments.
The combined lecture seminar sessions are designed to be thought provoking and interesting with the first half dedicated to exploring the law in question, followed by a seminar session which is usually in the format of applying the subject to a problem scenario. Given that the study and practice of law is largely centred on problem solving, by introducing this skill from the start it allows students to be fully prepared for examination questions and the practice of law.”
Andy Goves (LLB 1999)
Deputy Chief Fire Officer
“I chose a law degree through my previous involvement in the fire service teaching all manner of legislation. The whole aspect of undertaking a demanding four-year course as a mature student has stretched my intellectual abilities and widened my personal horizons. I have found a huge level of personal satisfaction in achieving a difficult qualification. I started my course in 1994 as a Divisional Officer, my intention was to simply achieve a pass to help me with my career in the fire service. I achieved a 2:1 (Hons) at the end of the course, have been promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer and passed the Home Office interviews for the Brigade Command Course – when completed this will entitle me to graduate with an MA. I am probably the only Assistant Chief Fire Officer with a law degree in the UK fire service and this rare qualification will be in demand as the service faces an increasingly litigious future. The camaraderie from the small group of students with whom I studied has provided much needed mutual support and generated a network of friends in a range of different professions.”
Rodney Corner (LLB 1999)
“Although I was a practising solicitor in the locality of Buckingham University I decided I needed the challenge of reading for the LLB (Hons) degree. I found it stimulating, rewarding and very hard work. It reinforced gaps in my knowledge of the law which inevitably widened over the years. I have benefited from the course in many practical ways in particular in course hearings involving breach of contract. I cannot speak highly enough of the course and of the lecturers who are of such high calibre.”
Suzanne Bullock (LLB 2001)
“One would not normally associate the time-consuming commitment to academic studies at the end of a working day, assignment deadlines and exam pressure with ‘great fun’ and yet surprisingly that is the way I look back at my part-time degree years.
The subjects studied on the programme were interesting, the materials thought provoking, and every step along the way one was encouraged to probe a little deeper into matters rather than to simply accept them at face value. Everyone in my year had found the course challenging and rewarding, regardless of whether their motive for taking it was interest only, or the furtherance of their career.
The course has also been a great opportunity to participate in ‘traditional’ student activities, in my case making new friends and exploring the pubs of Buckingham! Overall, it has been a very enjoyable step on my way to gain professional qualifications.”