I am a Chinese-Canadian international student from Canada with roots in Hong Kong. Before entering law at Leeds Uni, I’ve had the chance to travel around and work in a number of areas.
I also spent many years before entering the programme deciding what subject I would like to study in university and engaged in a bit of academic dilettantism (or what I would euphemistically call ‘attempted autodidactism’). At any rate, I’m here now and couldn’t be happier with the choice I made.
Why I chose Leeds
I applied to study law in the United Kingdom because the common law system that is practiced in the Commonwealth and beyond originated here. The English LLB also happens to be one of the most versatile law degrees in the world and I really wanted to keep my options open in terms where I would pursue a career after graduation.
I specifically applied to and subsequently accepted my offer from the University of Leeds because of its standing in university rankings (though that’s not the most important factor), its status as a top British research institute, the breadth of the specialisms of the teaching staff, as well as the quality of the teaching staff based on the feedback from the students, all of which were very high.
My passion for law
I have always been interested – and enamoured – by a career as a lawyer. I will admit, though, that it’s not exactly how the television programmes and films portray it to be – there’s a lot more reading and a lot less shouting passionately.
But in all seriousness, it’s the idea of studying one of the key pillars of society and eventually practicing and contributing to a field that consciously defines societal interaction that really makes every – yes, every – minute spent in the library poring over texts and cases worth it.
There is also the subtle but noticeable interdisciplinary approach to studying law, whether it is politics, philosophy or sociology that particularly appeals to me.
I prefer independent study, which allows me to study a subject at my own pace and to devote as much or as little focus to reading beyond the basic materials as I think is appropriate.
Many of my modules don’t have prescribed readings or texts and I think this is a fantastic way to approach studying; contrast this with the North American style of studying, which is quite rigid in terms of what must be read and emphasise a higher amount of contact hours.
The number of contact hours is perfectly balanced between encouraging that independent study mentality and providing support on the subjects. I won’t say anything about the exams, however – I haven’t sat enough of them and I’m sure no one in their right mind really enjoys them.
I’m looking forward to being able to branch out into areas of law that interest me in later years, once my options for electives open up.
The School of Law here has one of the broadest module options in the country so I can try my hand at everything, provided I have the credits for it. I’m also looking forward to my dissertation in third year and Jurisprudence.
The learning facilities
The facilities here are are excellent. The law section of the library is comprehensive enough that I have almost everything I need on the bookshelves and anything I’m missing can be supplemented by the online databases.
The library itself is comfortable and quiet – very conducive to productivity. The Liberty Building (the new School of Law) is a fantastic place to study and have small group seminars in and the lecture theatres, while lacking a bit in leg room, aren’t so big as to give off too impersonal of a disconnect between the lecturer and the students.
Before coming to the UK, I had no idea what function a personal tutor served. Having experienced for myself, the benefits a phenomenal personal tutor grants, I think it’s an indispensable concept.
My own personal tutor has been great at providing advice about career options or academic feedback, for when I need clarification about an element of the programme, or even just for a chat.
Activities in the School
The highlight of my first year was undoubtedly my participation in the University of Leeds team for the Phillip C Jessup International Mooting Competition, which involved a year of hard work culminating in an intense five days spent in London mooting and not sleeping.
I am also a member of the University of Leeds Student Law Society (LawSoc) and have attended a number of their events, many of which centre around meeting others in the school and networking/career oriented events.
I also really enjoyed the Leeds University Union’s Give it a Go programme, which allowed me to try a number of different societies’ events and activities. Some of them have given me an idea of which societies I want to join next year (after I sort out the work-life balance).
Outside of study
I’m really taken by the pub culture here; there’s nothing better than relaxing with a pint after a long day of work – or even in the middle of one. If I’m not in the imbibing mood, I like to stay up to date with current affairs and read the news.
I moved here from Canada, where EVERYONE drives – and badly, too – so the fact that everything essential is within walking distance is great for both my wallet and my weight.
The city centre is bustling enough so that there’s always something exciting going on but not so crowded that you feel suffocated. The shopping is varied and fantastic, and the convenient location of Hyde Park/Woodland Moor means that there’s no shortage of green space when I need some fresh air. What more can I say? Leeds is a great place to study.
Even though I took some time to choose my course, I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do with my degree once I graduate. I think the two typical options of a law graduate, practitioner or academia, are equally open for me. Fortunately, I’m still only in my first year and still have a lot to discover before I need to make that decision.