Would You Consider An Online Law Degree?
Coronavirus has confined many of us into our homes, with professionals, students, parents and children all adapting to a new way of living.
Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the ways in which lawyers, barristers and white collar workers have been impacted. But what about working people who want to acquire new skills and progress in the legal field?
In this article, we speak to Djakhongir Saidov (Professor of Commercial Law) and Anat Keller (Lecturer in Law) from The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. Sharing more about what King’s offers, they discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying law remotely, succinctly summarising if and why it could be a viable option for those interested in the sector.
What do you believe are the main differences between on-campus and online study for law students?
One obvious difference is that online study does not require students to be physically present in London. Our online modules are designed, delivered and assessed in ways that enable our students to achieve the same quality of education and learning experience as those on campus. There are plenty of opportunities for students to explore topical themes and problems whilst interacting with each other in the ‘virtual’ classroom environment. We also deliver a high level of pastoral care and academic support, as we understand that our students are spread around the world.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning?
- Part-time and flexible learning. With options to take breaks and multiple intakes each year, there are many ways to fit studying around your current commitments.
- Be part of an online community of students from around the world, many of whom are highly advanced in their careers and professional experience, and build a truly global network.
- Learn from world-leading legal professionals and academics, who provide cutting-edge legal teaching in an intellectually rigorous and stimulating environment. The small class sizes allow you to learn from close instructor interaction and collaboration with your peers.
- Online learning offers world-class education from the comfort of your home or office.
- Study is 100% online. Advance your education without taking a break from your career.
- There are six intakes throughout the year, allowing you to study when it is convenient for you.
We don’t think online has any real disadvantages, to be honest. As we’ve all found this year, both online learning and working are very feasible given the technologies available. I think we would accept that there are differences to online learning, compared to in-person teaching. For instance:
- Social contact is different – Face-to-face discussions are an important part of study. On-campus students have direct in-person interaction with their peers and academics. In the online world, these interactions take place ‘virtually’.
- Facilities – With online study, you can take advantage of a range of online materials. On campus, these facilities grow to include the library, physical study space and areas to debate and collaborate with fellow students.
- Location – Some people embrace moving to study in a new city, whereas for others it is completely impractical.
Ultimately, what is an advantage or disadvantage depends on your priorities. If location is an important factor and you want to engage with university facilities, an on-campus course is ideal. But if life is busy and you wish to study alongside current commitments, then online learning will give you everything you need.
What impact does studying an online degree have on career progression?
Those who complete our online law course receive the same qualification and quality of education as our on-campus students. King’s provides world-class teaching and the same academic rigour for both modes of study. Our courses, whilst drawing on the strengths of English law, are designed in a way that is of use and value to anyone, regardless of their jurisdiction. These courses can be studied from anywhere and at any time. Online study provides a deep learning experience allowing you to continue with your career. This is not always possible with an on-campus course. While studying and being in full-time employment can be challenging, in our experience this has not hindered career progression in any way. The flexibility and various support mechanisms built into our programmes enable online students to control the pace of their studies.
What are common misconceptions people have when they opt for online courses?
One of the biggest misconceptions is, ‘will I feel like I am on my own?’. Online courses at King’s are well established in the world of education, and experienced academics are on hand to help you navigate through the course. Student Support Advisers are available to be a friendly voice at the end of the phone if you have any queries. Perhaps, the most important aspect of all is the global community of like-minded students. Discussion boards allow you to interact, exchange ideas with other students and make the most of the shared experience. Weekly live tutorials with tutors reproduce the on-campus experience and are a key tool for interacting with your peers and developing a thorough understanding of the material.
Another big misconception concerns the value of online courses and how an online qualification will be perceived. People may ask, ‘is an online degree real?’. The truth is that the courses have exactly the same value as those on-campus. This is reflected in the fact that the final qualification does not say ‘online’. It doesn’t need to. The online courses feature the same quality of teaching and learning, just in a more flexible way. Upon graduation, you will become part of the strong King’s alumni and benefit from the global support network that it provides throughout your entire career.
And finally, commitment. ‘Will I commit to studying if I’m at home?’ This is a very personal preference. Typically, our students are highly motivated and disciplined and find that all they need is a laptop and a quiet corner. As explained, the online LLM programme allows them to fit their learning around their existing careers and life commitments. For them, it is easier to commit when there is flexibility.
The biggest opportunity that face-to-face training presents is the ability to discuss, collaborate, practice and role play, all ‘live’ and with guidance from a facilitator on hand. How do these courses still allow students to gain the same skills?
At King’s, we have been running the online programmes for many years and have always searched for ways to reproduce the best features of the on-campus experience as effectively as possible, and blend them with the benefits and flexibility of the online format. In particular, the weekly online tutorials actively encourage an open and fluid interaction, both with the tutor and other students. The online discussion boards make interaction easy and form part of the assessment. Additionally, our virtual learning platform provides access to the innovatively designed teaching materials which include many interactive features.
How can students progress from qualifying online to practising in the real world?
Many of our online students are already practising and are highly successful professionals seeking to enhance their knowledge or advance their profile. Whatever the stage of your career, the global recognition of an LLM from King’s College London, one of the world’s top-ranking universities, carries the same weight whether it is online or on-campus.
The course materials are designed from both practical and analytical perspectives, incorporating world-leading and innovative research from our academics. We encourage students to share and debate the most topical themes and problems, drawing on their practical experience. This ensures that our courses are always dynamic, current, challenging and practical, and that students are equipped with both the knowledge and life-long critical thinking skills required to thrive throughout their career.
About The Dickson Poon School of Law
Our School offers a broad range of online postgraduate taught courses that will help you develop the expertise you need to succeed. Our academic staff encourage our students to think deeply about their studies and the contributions they want to make to society through their careers and throughout their lives. No matter which course of study you follow, you will benefit from the research-led teaching offered by King’s experts.
At King’s College London, we know that you can achieve your intellectual and legal aspirations regardless of your location. Our online students benefit from the same world-leading teaching and outstanding support as those who are on campus, whilst embracing the challenge alongside their career or life commitments.
We offer two online LLM programmes, designed to enable you to excel in your career and advance in your professional and intellectual development:
With a strong international focus, both courses will provide you with the knowledge you need to take on a legal or industry career wherever you are in the world.