Q1. Why does law have to be a 4-year programme?
A. The trend of legal practice is increasingly multi-jurisdictional in the future. This is especially applicable given the reunification of Hong Kong with China and the increasing globalisation of the Hong Kong economy. A 3-year programme is no longer adequate to equip our students and graduates with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in the Hong Kong legal profession. Indeed, most of the LLB programmes around the world are 4 years in duration.
Q2. When did the 4 year LLB commence?
A. The first intake was in September 2004.
Q3. After September 2004 will I be able to go to City U and do an LLB in 3 years?
A. No. Both City U and HKU changed in September 2004 to a 4 year programme.
Q4. I already have a degree. Will I still have to do the 4 year LLB?
A. We used to offer a Fast-track LLB programme to enable graduate students to obtain their LLB in only 3 years by taking only law courses and leaving out all the non-law courses now inlcuded as part of the LLB. This will be discountinued as from 2009-10. Instead, graduate students may apply to our new JD programme which will be offered as from 2009-10.
Q5. What are the reasons for HKU changing from a 3 year LLB to a 4 year LLB?
A. The change was recommended by expert consultants appointed by Government and applies to all LLB programmes at universities in Hong Kong (i.e. HKU and CityU). The main benefits will be that students will get a deeper understanding of legal studies and will be better prepared for life as a professional lawyer. More courses aimed at enhancing students' professional skills will be offered in the 4 year LLB.
Q6. Why should Hong Kong have a 4 year LLB when other countries have 3 years programmes?
A. It is important to emphasize that 4 years is now the 'norm' for an LLB. If you look at Australia, New Zealand or Singapore, or European countries or Mainland PRC, you will find that 4 or even 5 year undergraduate programmes are required. In the US and Canada the law degree is a second degree - i.e. law is not studied as an undergraduate programme. By changing to 4 years Hong Kong is adopting the international standard.
Q7. What does the 4-year programme teach?
A. The first two years will focus on the building up of a solid foundation in legal knowledge and basic legal skills. The idea is to enable students to learn key legal concepts, analysis, thinking and writing skills through the teaching and learning of core law courses like Contract, Tort, and Criminal Law.
In the third and final years, students are allowed to choose among the law electives, in which students would have the opportunity, according to their preferences, to specialize in a particular area of law, or obtain a minor in a discipline other than law (presently, only a Minor in Social Sciences is available). Future developments may include giving students the opportunity to obtain double degree qualifications from HKU and a prestigious mainland university, or obtain a second degree awarded at this University by doing an extra year of study in another Faculty in this University.
The idea is to enable our graduates to acquire a competitive edge on graduation and to excel in their career development.
Q8. Is the teaching method different from that in the 3-year LLB?
A. Yes, indeed the change is not just limited to the number of years, but goes more fundamentally to the nature of teaching. The new 4-year LLB is to be taught in a small group, problem-based and student-centred learning environment. The emphasis is on the students' learning process, and we believe that this is the best way to ensure that our students acquire the core competencies in legal learning which are of life-long value.
Q9. Are there new requirements for admission to the 4-year LLB programme?
A. Our requirements for admission are the same as the present ones: excellent standard in English, good critical and analytical abilities, ability to express oneself in a logical and systematic manner, and needless to say, an interest in the law.
For those candidates who have a mind to obtain a double degree with a mainland University, the ability to read and write Chinese and to speak Cantonese and Putonghua would be required.
Q10. Does the 4-year LLB admit applicants of the Early Admission Scheme?
A. Yes. Many students applying on the Early Admission Scheme each year have already been admitted to our LLB programme.
Q11. After I have completed the 4 year LLB will I be able to start working as a practising lawyer?
A. No. After the LLB students must take a one year professional training programme - the PCLL ' before going to work in a solicitors' firm or as a barrister. This requirement does not change.
Q12. So to qualify as a practising lawyer I will need to spend 4 years (LLB) + 1 year (PCLL) at university?
Q13. Can I do the PCLL at HKU, or is that programme only available elsewhere?
A. The PCLL is taught at HKU. The programme at HKU has the biggest intake of the only programmes in Hong Kong (HKU and CUHK). From 2005-2006, the PCLL is offered in both full-time and part-time modes.
Q14. When the LLB changed from 3 years to 4 years did that mean the extra cost of the fourth year has to be borne by the student on a full-fee basis?
A. No. The Government will subsidize all 4 years. The fees will be the same in Year 4 as for any other degree programme.
Q15. Would I spend more time in obtaining a qualification in legal practice than other overseas students by doing the law degree at HKU?
A. Most of the LLB programmes offered by overseas universities are 4 years in duration, except those in the United Kingdom. However, overseas LLB graduates who would like to be admitted to the PCLL (the mandatory professional course for legal practice in Hong Kong) are required to pass conversion examination in a number of pre-requisite courses for admission to the PCLL. This requirement is to ensure overseas graduates are adequately prepared in Hong Kong laws for the skills training in the PCLL. For more information on conversion exam, please visit http://www.pcea.com.hk/.
Q16. What about the graduates of the CPE programmes and London University external degrees?
A. They are required to do conversion exam before they are eligible for admission to PCLL.
Q17. If I don't want to do a 4 year programme in Hong Kong, can I go to England and do a three year LLB and immediately thereafter enter the PCLL?
A. No. Students will not be eligible for entry to the PCLL unless they have already satisfied a list of pre-requisites. This will include several courses that are not normally taught as part of the LLB in England (for example, the Hong Kong Basic Law). Students returning to Hong Kong from England (or indeed any other country) will be required to take a conversion course (or courses) to satisfy these prerequisites.
Q18. Does this mean that I cannot use going to England to study as a 'shortcut'?
Q19. If I study the LLB in HKU, will I be able to take all the courses required as pre-requisites for the PCLL?
A. Yes, of course. The 4 year LLB and PCLL have been designed to fit neatly together for the benefit of students.
Q20. Other than the pre-requisites, are there any other benefits to taking the LLB at HKU?
A. Yes. Because the two programme (LLB and PCLL) have been designed together, it has been possible to ensure that the content of the LLB courses is best suited to what students will be facing later in the PCLL. The idea is that students may benefit from a smoother transmission from the HKU LLB to the PCLL.
Q21. Under the 4 year LLB will it be possible for a student to go on exchange (for one term or two terms) to a foreign university?
A. We very much encourage our LLB students to go on exchange. Such an exchange programme is very common already amongst our LLB students. Students on exchange from HKU go to many famous universities in Europe and North America and other parts of the world. The University exchange arrangement is over 150 leading universities in the world. For more details, please visit the website of the Office of International Student Exchange. The 4 year LLB will make exchanges, particularly for two terms, much easier for the students.
Q22. Where can I obtain further information?
A. Questions related to the curriculum and studies can be directed to the Department of Law, in the first instance to the Admissions Tutor of the LLB programme.