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Me v My Degree Structure

Lost cartoon man with map

The course structure for a law degree sometimes seems like a strategy board taken straight from the most confidential vault at the Pentagon.

It’s not uncommon to see people, including myself, in the law library perfecting their course map for the 378th time. How many units can I stretch myself to do in a semester? How long can I make my degree? Should I keep a first year arts unit up my sleeve?

While there are no set answers, here are a few suggestions that may help you down the track…

Order your subjects

It probably makes sense to do your compulsory units in the order set in your course structure so that you’ve mastered the foundational units before studying more advanced subjects. If you’re thinking about mixing it up, it’s a good idea to speak to older students about how they approached it, and to then double check with the enrolment office to make sure that it’s possible. It is probably okay to leave [insert most difficult subject that everyone fails here] to later in your degree when you feel more confident.

Don’t just choose the ‘easy’ ones

There are always a bunch of elective units that are supposedly easier than others. While it may be true that some subjects have easier content matter, you need to choose the units that will interest you. Since you have to study, you might as well study something that you find interesting! Plus if you’re interested in the subject you’re likely to do much better in it.

Consider your career plans

Many students find it difficult to get work experience that’s relevant to the area of law you want to practice in. One way that you can demonstrate your interest in a particular area of law to a potential employer is through elective choices: think commercially focussed electives for the budding commercial lawyer, or subjects like IP, cyber law and media law for the media and entertainment lawyer in the making.

Add a Practical Unit

If your university offers a practical unit and you are interested in practising law then it is a great idea to take this opportunity. These subjects usually involve a work placement and will give you an idea of what it is like to practise law. As an added bonus, they usually don’t have an exam. The experiences you gain completing a practical subject will give you something unique to talk about at job interviews and will demonstrate that you already have already mastered some of the basics like letter writing, interviewing and professional conduct. These units are also a great way to meet people working in the law and to hear their career experiences.

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