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Law - Access to Justice

This programme recognises that access to legal services is not uniformly available to all and therefore its central focus is 'Access to justice: meeting unmet legal need'.

The course provides students with the opportunity to advise and represent social security appellants and employment law claimants (areas identified in research as ones with high levels of unmet legal need, in part because legal aid has never been made available for them), in a context where they reflect on how persons of limited means access legal services.

Students obtain experience in aspects of legal practice, from client-handling and case-related research, to advocacy and representation, and also reflect on Public Interest Litigation, as well as developing and managing the Ulster University Law Clinic, the specialist clinic embedded in the course. Students will be on placement in the award-winning Ulster University Law Clinic and are also likely to have a concurrent placement with one of our partners. The academic content provides students with the opportunity to engage with wider policy and human rights issues raised by the 'Access to Justice: Meeting unmet legal need' theme, including the State's Article 6 obligation to ensure effective access to courts and tribunals.

The unique work of the Ulster University Law Clinic has been endorsed by the Department of Justice through the award of an Access to Justice Scholarship for the LLM and by our partnership with the global law firm Allen and Overy who sponsor three LLM CLE Scholarships to support the next generation of social justice lawyers.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

You must satisfy the General Entry Requirements for admission to a first degree programme, and hold a GCSE pass in English at grade C or above (or equivalent).

Admission Requirements

Applicants must:

(a) have gained (i) a second class honours degree or better in law or law related discipline from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or (ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in law or an approved alternative qualification; or (iii) a degree in a relevant discipline with appropriate work/professional experience in the field of access to justice; or (iv) a comparable professional qualification; and

(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent); or, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b):

(c) In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

(d) In addition, all applicants will be required to submit a personal statement detailing their interest and motivation in undertaking the programme, and they will also be required to attend an interview to evaluate applicants' suitability for the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

For a variety of reasons, not least the issue of insurance, no exemptions are granted for prior study, including from employment law and social security law.

Duration

Attendance

Students are expected to attend all classes associated with the programme and be punctual and regular in attendance. In semester one, students will undertake taught modules in Social Security Law and Policy, Employment Law, Tribunal Representation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Student will also begin clinical work placement with the Legal Support Project within the Law Centre (NI) in the area of Social Security and induction to the Ulster Law Clinic. In Semester 2 & 3, Students will be based at the Ulster Law Clinic and/or clinical work placement with the Legal Support Project for the Clinical Legal Practice module where they will provide advice and representation to users of the Law Clinic. Students will also undertake the taught module Housing Law and attend classes in the Dissertation module.

Careers or further progression

Graduates have found employment in legal practice, the NGO advocacy and justice sectors and in 'Access to Justice' policy-related positions.

Further enquiries

Contact
Admissions
T: +44 (0)28 9536 7890
E: admissionsbt@ulster.ac.uk

Dr John McCord
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8802
E: ja.mccord@ulster.ac.uk

Subjects taught

Year one

Social Security Law and Policy
This module will provide an insight into how the social security system in the UK is structured and how entitlement to different social security benefits is governed. It will enable students to appreciate the complexity of social security provision, and the impact of policy which drives social security reform.

Employment Law
The importance of the employment relationship between employers, employees, unions and
other statutory bodies and agencies is such that a thorough knowledge of both the context and
the substantive law is necessary for those involved in this area in any capacity. The module
attempts to provide the basis for this knowledge and to put students in the position where they
may not only have an understanding of the law both conceptually and substantively, but also be
in a position to use that knowledge in the solution of problems.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Methods of ADR are increasingly being used within the legal system and advocated as a means of removing cases from overburdened courts. In appropriate cases they can provide an alternative to legal adjudication and can be used as a means of achieving satisfactory solutions to disputes. The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the processes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and its relationship to law. The course will cover processes such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation and will provide students with a foundational knowledge of ADR which can then be developed in their professional practice. The module will comprise both theoretical and skills based elements. Students will consider the rationale and ethics of ADR before being introduced to some of the practical skills used in these processes. The study and practice of ADR will be undertaken in the context of a range of legal subject areas, including commercial law, family law and employment law.

Tribunal Representation
This module aims through a combination of lectures and practical exercises to enable trainees to further develop their own professional practice in relation to employment and social security matters. The module aims to develop a student's ability to apply and further develop the knowledge and practical skills gained in prior and concurrent modules. The module will encourage discussion of rationales and consequences of each available course of action in any given scenario, and students will be encouraged to critique solutions to any issues identified as arising from their choice(s). It is anticipated that students will examine the impact of the rules and procedures involved and their tactical application in practice with a view to developing their own individual work practice.

Clinical Legal Practice
Clinical Legal Practice forms the centre-piece module of the LLM Access to Justice programme, being the module during which students develop their clinical legal practical skills. Student clinicians will be required to provide specialist information, advice and advocacy for social security claimants and individuals seeking assistance with employment law disputes, including representation at tribunal where appropriate. The clinical legal experience will be predominantly placement based at the outset, and student clinicians will also work towards establishing, developing and managing an Ulster Law Clinic to provide an in-house, public facing clinic to provide free specialist assistance for members of the public with social security and employment law disputes.

Dissertation
This module allows students to apply the research skills acquired and explore the issues broached in the taught modules, by conducting an effective critical investigation of an area of concern or interest in human rights law and to write a report on that investigation.

Employment Compliance and Development
This module is optional
Whether you are a lawyer, human resources professional, personnel or industrial relations officer, this module will develop a range of skills, which will enable all students to remain fully abreast of the latest legislative and case law developments in employment compliance. It will ensure that all students acquire in-depth knowledge and understanding of how employment compliance issues operates in practice. Students will be provided with assistance enabling them to respond to complex practical, legal and ethical problems. Students will be encouraged to critically analyse the law and important legal issues they face in practice.

Housing Law
This module is optional
This module is concerned with the home, a concept of fundamental importance to everyone. Initially tracing the historical development of housing law within the UK and in a European context, the module examines the scope of the subject and considers the specific legal framework for housing law in Northern Ireland. Outlining the roles of relevant bodies (such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive) the module considers not only the law of landlord and tenant (in respect of, for example, security of tenure) but also the rights and liabilities of owner occupiers in the event of (for example) mortgage default.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2020/21

Postgraduate Information Session 5 March 2020
Register at: ulster.ac.uk/pg-information-events

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