Learning how two legal systems work

Overseas-education | Crystal Wu 24 Aug 2021

Penultimate year student Kay Wong talks to us this week in the Student Globetrotters series about her course, the HKU-UCL Dual Degree Programme in Law.

The program was launched by the law school of the University of Hong Kong and University College London in 2016. Students of the program study at UCL for the first two years and at HKU for the final two.

"As the outcome of that, we graduate with two degrees - one from UCL and one from HKU, so you don't get any one of your degrees until you complete the entire program in both universities," Wong said.

On school fees, she had to pay the international fees of UCL for her first two years, and the local fee for the years at HKU. Applications can be made via both the Hong Kong JUPAS system and the UK UCAS system.

The universities each choose five students every year, bringing the student cohort to 10.

For Wong, one of the biggest advantages of the program is obtaining two degrees in four years while learning about two legal systems.

"For me, I think that Hong Kong public law courses are more relatable, such as constitutional law courses teaching you about judicial review, etc. Those are more relatable to the news surrounding us," she said.

"But it's also very nice being able to compare the Hong Kong legal system to that in the UK. You get to learn about both jurisdictions and compare their approaches to different areas of law, which I found quite interesting."

Another great thing about the program for Wong is the chance to study abroad.

"It's a very friendly and intellectual community, especially the law department. Even before we met each other, it was a very collaborative environment where everyone was willing to share the things they'd learned and share information in general," said Wong on UCL.

With just a few students on the program, Wong believes that it has led to a tight-knit group of friends.

Students who are looking to become a Hong Kong lawyer can also ease their minds as the HKU portion of the program means that they do not have to take the preparation examination before studying for the PCLL.

Even though it is a great program, Wong warns that the workload is quite high. Students of the dual program have to take seven courses each semester in Hong Kong, compared to the average five courses for HKU students.

Meanwhile, UCL law students may have one year to familiarize themselves with their surroundings as their first-year results do not count toward their final degree classification. Students of the dual program, however, must adapt more quickly as their first-year results count.

"This means that if you're not sure what you're doing during your first year and you mess up your grades, it will reflect badly in your final degree classification for the UCL side of things."

For students who are interested in the program, Wong advises: "It is a good idea to try applying to the program if you're interested in it, because no matter whether you apply through JUPAS or UCAS, if you fail in your application to this particular program, you will still be considered for the HKU LLB or the UCL LLB programs."

She also found the British side easier to apply for, which is how she got into the program.

Students must take an LNAT exam, which is required for some UK law schools. There are no interviews via this route.

Students who apply via the HKU route must fill an additional application form for the dual degree and write a personal statement, followed by a group interview.

"Your personal statement is very important, and I think that you should really think of why you want to do law and put that reason on paper in a convincing way. It's great if you have some law-related experience which you can include as well."

crystalhl.wu@singtaonewscorp.com



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