LLM / PhD Programme
Our postgraduate programmes are aimed at students already in possession of a LLB or equivalent law degree, and are divided into those done by research and those done by coursework:
- LLM by dissertation: a Masters degree for those who have the time, inclination and ability for in-depth research.
- PhD: a Doctoral degree for which students need to submit a research thesis that meets the standards of a Doctorate.
- LLM by Coursework and Research Report: a Masters degree done by coursework, the LLM nevertheless requires students to complete a research component.
- Postgraduate Diploma in Law: incorporating the same coursework content as the LLM, the PGDipLaw does not require students to complete a research component.
- Mandela Institute Certificate Courses: a range of stand-alone postgraduate certificate courses is on offer, covering such topical areas as HIV/Aids law, Refugee Law, Cyber Law and Energy Law, among many others.
Why study at Wits
The coursework offerings of the School of Law’s are highly prized in the marketplace for their high standards of academic excellence and practical relevance. The wide range of subjects taught by acknowledged experts allows students to develop themselves into world-class legal specialists.
Choosing a coursework programme
The School offers a variety of programmes and courses, enabling students to choose offerings tailored
to their individual needs and interests.
Mandela Institute Certificate Courses
The Mandela Institute offers a wide range of stand-alone courses that can be taken as a certificate of attendance or certificate of competence. Some of these courses are equivalent to Postgraduate Diploma or LLM courses, and can be credited towards these programmes.
These courses are ideal for graduates or professionals who wish to acquire advanced knowledge in specific subjects only. They can also be used as an alternate entry route to the LLM or Postgraduate Diploma programmes for students who do not currently qualify for admission to those programmes.
For more information about certificate courses offered, including admission requirements and dates please enquire from the Mandela Institute
Postgraduate Diploma in Law
A new qualification introduced by the HEQF, the Postgraduate Diploma is similar to the highly acclaimed Higher Diplomas in Law, which it replaces. In essence it is the “LLM without the research”. Students complete four courses in a general or specialised field over a period of 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time).
The Postgraduate Diploma is ideal for law graduates or professionals with an excellent academic record who wish to acquire advanced knowledge in a combination of subjects, without the need for extensive research. It can also serve as an alternate entry route for students who do not currently qualify for admission to the LLM programme. For more detail, please see Admission Requirements below.
LLM by coursework and research report
The LLM comprises the same courses as the Postgraduate Diploma, with an additional research component consisting of an attendance course in Research Methodology, 2 research essays of 5,000 words each (core-level courses) and a 10,000 word research report. The duration of the programme is 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time).
This programme is suitable only for law graduates and professionals who have the interest, ability and time to conduct extensive research at an advanced academic level. Due to the onerous nature of the research component, entry to the programme is strictly limited. However deserving students may gain admission to the programme via alternative entry routes. For more detail, please see Admission Requirements below.
Mandela Institute Courses
Postgraduate Diploma in Law
LLM by Coursework
Please enquire from the Mandela Institute
- LLB or equivalent degree with an average of 65% in the final year of study
Alternative entry route:
- One equivalent Mandela Institute course passed with an average of 60% or above
- Applicants without an LLB: Suitable qualifications plus completion of the Mandela Institute course Introduction to Law for Non-Lawyers
- An average of 65% in the final year of the LLB plus evidence of ability to conduct scholarly research and writing
- An average of 70% in the final year of the LLB without evidence of ability to conduct scholarly research and writing
Alternative entry routes:
- Two equivalent Mandela Institute or Postgraduate Diploma courses with an average of 70% or above
- In exceptional circumstances applicants may be accepted without an LLB degree, based on their other qualifications and experience. Such applicants will, however, be required to complete the Mandela Institute course Introduction to law for Non-Lawyers
* Students complying with the above will be allowed to convert to the relevant programme, and will be
granted credit for courses already passed, provided they are equivalent. Please enquire from the
Mandela Institute regarding equivalency before registration.
International students are subject to additional admission requirements, as set out in the list of
Fields of study for the LLM and Postgraduate Diploma
The combination of subjects taken for the LLM and Postgraduate Diploma depends on the field chosen. Both programmes are offered in the following fields:
Commercial & Business Law
The most flexible of the fields, allowing students to choose four courses from any of the other fields.
Catering to the commercial lawyer who aspires to specialized knowledge in this highly competitive area of
the law, this field allows students to choose four courses from a range of commercial subjects.
This field is aimed at commercial lawyers who wish to focus on company law in particular.
Note: Numbers in this field are capped. Applicants are strongly advised to apply for another programme as their second or third choice.
This fast-growing and very topical field offers students the opportunity to acquire specialised knowledge on environmental law and sustainable development.
Human Rights Advocacy & Litigation
Human rights and public interest litigation is at the forefront of legal development worldwide. This field equips students with the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to practice in this exciting area of the law.
Information & Communications Law
As the law struggles to keep track of the vast technological advances of the past two decades, students are offered the opportunity to gain expertise in this fast-developing field.
In our cross-border, globalised world, international law has become an important and integral part of both the international and domestic legal orders. This field focuses on public international law, taught by world-renowned experts in the field.
International Law & Economics (renamed International Economic Law with effect 2014)
This field equips students for a rewarding career in international trade by deepening their knowledge of the law and economics of global commercial relations.
Note: Students who have not completed Economics at third year level in their undergraduate degree, must complete the Mandela Institute course Economics for Law in addition to the prescribed courses for this field.
The dynamic nature of the labour market and its regulation presents a perpetual challenge to the legal practitioner. This field equips students with up-to-date knowledge of South African labour law and gives them the tools to cope with future legal development.
This field answers to a need from practice for specialised learning in a area of law that has seen enormous growth in the last decade.
Note: This field is offered on a part-time basis only in 2014.
Tax Law (including LLM from 2014)
This qualification builds on the already firm reputation gained by the School's Higher Diploma in Tax Law, which it replaces.
Note: The programme is offered on a two-year part-time basis only, with a new intake in 2014. There
will be no new intake in this field in 2015.
Note that not all courses are offered every year, and not all fields can be taken on a full-time basis every year. For full details of the curricula for each field and planned offerings, please consult the Rolling Plan for the period 2014-2015.
Applying for Admission
31 August 2014 (International students)
30 September 2014 (SA students)
Students may apply online or by downloading an application form from the Wits website
List of Supporting documents required (Download)
The School of Law does not offer distance-learning programmes. All coursework programmes require students to attend regular lectures. Courses are generally taught by way of lectures once a week after hours during Wits University terms, making them ideal for both full-time students and working legal professionals who wish to keep up-to-date with changing legislation or to specialise in a particular area of law.
For more information about postgraduate studies at Wits, including fees, funding and accommodation,
please visit the Wits Postgraduate Studies webpage.
Wits offers various services to assist international students. For more information, please visit the
Wits International Office webpage.