Am a US student now completing an MSc in CJ and have been offered a place at two UK Uni's: Bham for School of Law ( MPhil to PhD in law ) and Lancaster (MPhil to PhD in Applied Social Sciences). Question is LANC has no student assistantships available and am in doubt about finan. assistance (other than my own funding) : however I have had tremendously good communication directly with my supervisor there since my application was submitted, and they project that I might also choose doing a split doctorate if I chose, and they have been looking for a co-super here in the US for same.
Conversely, prior to the formal offer letter being sent out, Bham had to get permission for me to contact my super there in order for me to clarify some questions I have (and they say I also will not have a co-super) however: they do have one or more scholarships to apply for as well as teaching assistantships.
Doing my PhD with the mind of a F/T academic position way down the line, I am curious to see what others think of one vs the other. In terms of both the Law vs Applied SocSc program as well as the tchg opps and benefits.
Thanks to all who care to comment!
From what I've been told, there are more opportunities for a career in academia for Law PhD students than there are for Soc Sci students. This is partly because, as law is a vocational degree, many people with law degrees become lawyers whereas there isn't a similar route for Sco Sci graduates.
But I suppose there are many other factors to weigh in as well - what the supervisors/ department/ university are like etc as well as the other teaching opportunities and benefits that you mentioned.
Thank you for your reply! True there are many things to consider, not the least of which is establishing good communication from the outset, but now with this financial upheaval, I am more inclined now towards that which provides some financial assistance: and is considered on the basis that both unis are ranked very closely in many polls. :-)
Yep, I agree with the other poster, a PhD in Law provides more opportunities. Although a PhD in Law, has absolutely no bearing on the process of becoming a practising lawyer. However, other opportunities can arise beyond the academic route.
I would also say a PhD in law is much tougher option compared to a soc. science PhD. Now, I'm not attempting to undermine soc. sci PhDs, but the writing and approach to a PhD in law can be harder. For example, many law PhDs do not easy adapt to a soc. sci PhD structure ie. intro, literature review etc etc (unless it's very socio-legal). In fact, many law professors will not allow you to use this structure. You'll also find you'll have less contact hours with law professors compared to soc. sciences professors (as you have found with your experience of B'ham).
You don't say what you background is, i.e., do you have a law degree? If not, you may find it quite difficult slotting into a law school and the different approaches to writing cf. to soc sciences. You'll also find that the studentship/GTA positions at Birmingham will go to candidates who can teach core undergraduate law courses (ie. contract, tort, criminal law) and not necessarily modules with a soc. science twist eg. criminology. If you don't have a British LLB you'll probably not be in the running for such funding, and the funding will likely go to a UK/EU student.
With respect to the actual universities, both are very good. B'ham probably has the edge in terms of ranking/status (it's a Russell Group member), and it's law school is highly regarded. Lancaster is a little lower in terms of status; however, it's a nice university on a self-contained campus (I was up there not so long ago). It also has a very friendly atmosphere.
What a pleasant and encouraging reply! I do appreciate your opinion. I have a police officer background as well as my paralegal degree ( which here is equivalent to the first year and a half of law school) I also received a near 4.0 gpa and a partial scholarship in my second year as my grades were so high. Second, one of my LOR's (the content of which is fantastic) was from my instructor there, who has been a practising attorney for many years, and is also the director of the entire PL program.
That being said, I am hoping that the latter holds me in higher stead for the PTA position. What are your thoughts? So I have experience in both civil and criminal ( academic and actual work).
During the app process, I was asked for additional info on my legal background, and about 4 weeks after that was provided I received an offer. It took much longer than I anticipated overall, but I imagine with summer hiatus and what not that there were extenuating circumstances. Would you know of any statistics on how difficult it is to be accepted at Bham--based on overall rates or for specific programs? I know the PG programmes administrator said that they are to be near 60 research students come spring, and I am one of the first for the MPhil ( as they just initiated it). Also was told that they have 14 PTA's at present ( not all in law) which is a higher number than many other uni's.
Lastly, if you have any ideas as to accomodation at Bham, on campus or off--I am still gathering info as to which way to proceed there. BTW, have you ever been to Bham as you have Lancaster? I lived in Los Angeles for many years, and it seems the city size is comparative, but the idea of being so close to the countryside in Bham is definitely a plus! (Almost all freeways in LA and no green!).
======= Date Modified 05 Oct 2008 06:50:45 =======
With respect to getting a GTA/teaching associate position, I think you have an average chance. On the whole, I find they normally go to people with a first class LLB (UK law degree) and/or a British LLM. However, GTAs do sometimes go to foreign students who can teach modules on LLM programmes. Ultimately it depends if you knowledge base directly matches modules that they need help in. I think the main stumbling block will be your lack of a JD/LLB.
I don't know about the acceptance rates for B/ham law courses, but the LLB has very high standards. With respect to PhDs, as long as a student has a first class degree (equivalent to a US 3.7 or above) or 2.1 plus a masters, most universities will accept them. Notably, universities are VERY interested to give places to international students as they are subject to exorbitant fees. You'll find most universities accept you with open arms, and often favour internationals over domestic students because of fees (although they'd never admit that in a million years).
B/ham is one university I have never visited, but the city itself is busy urban sprawl that is very culturally diverse compared to other cities (you'll find it quiet in comparison to LA). It also has lots of traffic problems - so that will make you feel at home ;). It has some very nice leafy suburbs (eg. Bournville, where the chocolate factory is!), and you can easily drive out into the countryside. B/ham also has the newly built bullring shopping centre (the architecture is very impressive).
If your research area is criminal justice/policing, have you considered Cambridge and Kent?
Hi again! I have thought about Cambridge, however missed applying in time this year as I was caring for a terminally ill sister......so I got a late start. Also my daughter just graduated High school and started a 4 yr program in wisconsin in Zoology. Her and I have both been to the UK before and I tried to get her to study there, but she chose to remain at home. As to the Cadbury factory, that is awesome, it is the best chocolate ( I know from having been born and raised in Canada, so I grew up loving sweets!) In view of the LLB, in the event my thesis proposal didn't fly, I also had applied for a distance LLB with U of London External degree program (2 yrs) then I'd do a one yr LLM to top it off. It till would not be a disadvantage to have that, and a PhD. Whether I could swing both simultaneously is another question! I might relook at Cambridge as I forget now what their gathering fields are for apps. I have never looked at Kent, but will check to see what research they are interested in.
Whereabouts do you reside, and what are your academic interests/accomplishments?
You are all too right about the usury fees charged to Int'l applicants, but it is a total package for many of us: the cultural learning opps, etc. that at least for me make it worthwhile over staying at home. I would have to move to another state anyhow to get into a preffered school, so why not just go overseas! My husband will have to come visit anyways, so it might as well be something new! We both spent time in the military ( he for 22 yrs as a Marine) so he is accustomed to traveling and non-traditional lifestyles, as am I.
I'm afraid I don't know anything about PhDs in Law but I did study for my undergraduate degree in Birmingham and I loved it! It is a really vibrant city, loads to do (great ballet company if you're into ballet), clubs, concerts etc. Also it is really well situated for getting out into the country with or without a car (used to love popping over to the Malvern Hills or to Stratford on Avon to see a play). As a pp said there are lots of leafy suburbs. I love Bourneville (although apparently the smell of chocolate can get a bit much!) it is on a direct train line to the university (or you can walk - it's not far) but there are lots of other leafy suburbs to choose from. Hope that helps a bit!
That is most helpful! If you could name the top 5 best things about studying at Bham, what would they be? and the 5 most negative aspects. Also, in re suburbs, in case of a shortage in campus housing, I had better start looking now in the private sector. Might you name a couple that would be suitable in terms of a reasonable commute and for a mature student ( say 20 min or less by train) and I am not familiar with that service either, other than it is said to run thru campus. All these replies are very helpful, for although my info pack is on its way, it may be another two weeks in the post.....and that is time lost otherwise.
I am very excited that the country is readily accessible by train as well, for I enjoy the outdoors....whether walking and window shopping in antique/ eclectic type shops, or a chance to stop for a bite in a small cafe and get to know the locals. If I had my drothers, I'd rent a flat in an older established neighborhood (say an old victorian house with a good size main floor flat) , maybe with an outdoor grassy area to plant flowers, n such. A place to truly call home for 3 or more years! As I love antiques also, I am hoping to get a place big enough as to do some 'collecting' while there and in other nearby countries as well. Again, any and all ideas are welcome and so much appreciated! I know there are advantages to living on campus, but I want so much to feel at home in other ways!
======= Date Modified 05 Oct 2008 06:08:12 =======
Joanne, I sent you a PM (click inbox to the left even if it show '0' messages).
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