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Admission to the LLM Degree is generally limited to applicants holding an LLB degree from an institution recognised by University of Cape Town.

LLM programmes with coursework

To graduate with an LLM degree (coursework & dissertation) students must select and complete four courses and submit a dissertation of up to 25 000 words on a topic of their choice. Full-time students are expected to complete the programme requirements within one academic year and part-time students are expected to complete the requirements within two years (except that the dissertation component may be submitted by not later than: the Friday before the first term starts the year following the completion of the coursework for students who have completed their coursework in December; and 15 September of the same year for students who have completed their coursework in June).

Students who register for a general LLM are free to choose from the numerous courses on offer. However, students wanting to pursue a specialist LLM programme will need to ensure that they take the courses prescribed by that specialisation. Examples of specialised programmes include (amongst others):

Comparative Business Law in Africa

Criminology, Law & Society

Human Rights & the Law

Intellectual Property Law

Law of Mineral and Petroleum Extraction and Use

Marine & Environmental Law

Tax Law & International Tax Law

To see the requirements in each of the specialist programme areas please refer to the Law Faculty Handbook.

To find out about our highlight postgraduate courses, have a look under the Courses menu.

Master of Laws by dissertation (LLM or MPhil)

Applicants for the LLM or MPhil by research may qualify for admission provided that they have:

  • a law degree of the University or equivalent degrees from another university recognised by Senate for this purpose, or
  • in any other manner attained a level of competence which, in the opinion of Senate (which acts on recommendation by the Law Faculty), is adequate for purposes of admission.
  • or, in the case of the MPhil, candidates may qualify if they have an honours degree from UCT or another university recognised by Senate.

Although originality in postgraduate research is always desirable, it is not an exclusive requirement for an LLM degree. Instead, a dissertation should constitute a significant advance in knowledge on the subject, of such a standard that publication in a reputable journal would be justified.

Candidates must therefore show that they have:

  • a thorough knowledge of the chosen subject
  • mastered techniques required for competent research in law
  • the capacity for independent thought and sound reasoning
  • satisfactorily presented the results of research

An LLM or MPhil dissertation must not exceed 40 000 words in length.

A new Faculty offering, for research-only degrees, is Air & Aviation Law (Research-only)


For more information on research degrees in the Faculty of Law, what is required and how to apply, have a look at:


Thesis proposal 

Ethics approval 


Examination Procedures

Key Dates for Research Degree Programmes