Higher Studies

Anwesha Pal, Masters candidate, Nottingham University, on staying in academia, pursuing IP Law and plans for the future

Anwesha Pal is a graduate from NUJS, Kolkata, batch of 2009. She then went on to pursue her LL.M. in IP Laws from Nottingham University.

In this interview we speak to Anwesha about:

  • Her time in Nottingham, the curriculum and faculty
  • Application procedures and scholarships available
  • Her decision to pursue a career in academia and plans for the future

 

What was your motivation behind doing an LL.M.?

I have always wanted to teach and when I realized that teaching law at prestigious institutions is indeed possible, I decided on pursuing my masters in law. LL.M. is an academic degree. Therefore, if you are thinking about a career in academia, then an LL.M. is mandatory. Also international exposure could be an added benefit in more ways than one. LLM should be done primarily if you want to gather more knowledge in your area of interest. An LL.M. is mandatory if you wish to study further. It is not entirely true in the present day job market that only a master’s degree in law will help you in grabbing high paying jobs.

 

anwesha-pal2

How did you choose the university? Where else did you apply?

To do an LL.M. I thought UK would be best suited to my needs. I was interested in Intellectual Property laws and other commercial laws. I had applied to King’s College London, QMUL, University of Warwick and University of Nottingham. I went through the course structure for each, the faculty concerned with the subjects I chose to study, the place of study and the costs involved.

University of Nottingham has one of the best faculties for Intellectual property laws in the UK and one of the most intensive courses in Masters of International Commercial Laws. With an amazing library and a brilliant atmosphere for studies and a superbly picturesque campus, every second spent there studying has been worthwhile.

 

Any interesting details about the course worth sharing?

To start with, our Intellectual property law course instructors were Dr. Estelle Derclaye and Dr. Paul Torremans who are very renowned in their fields. For all the other subjects, the seminars were coupled with lectures from Mahesh Uttamchandani from the World Bank, Pascal Kamina for Intellectual Property law and some other eminent dignitaries.

 

How was your experience? Tell us about the faculty and facilities. Any memorable instances you might want to share with us?

Situated two and a half hours from London, the facilities in and around this university are incredible. The 24 hour access to all the buildings and the library within the university was very helpful since we had to prepare for the day-to-day seminars on almost all the days and additionally research for our papers due at the end of the term. The faculty was very helpful and understanding. The staff in the school of law were equally well-informed and organised.

The hand-outs and the manuals were extremely helpful in preparing for the classes and the students’ portal was very well designed to cater to all our research needs. University of Nottingham has access to innumerable journals across the globe in almost all the major areas of research and studies. The library is huge and divided into levels. The basement and the ground levels being group study zones designed with brightly coloured walls and a brilliantly designed cafeteria. The other two levels above it are the silent study zones with in-built study carrels that have a plethora of books and journals for almost all the humanities related subjects.

anwesha-pal8The University of Nottingham, UK is divided into four campuses where the University Park Campus is the one where the school of law is situated amidst beautiful gardens and a lake with swans and lots of greenery. The hopper bus services are very effective which transfer you from one campus to the other for free. These are double-decker buses which run every few minutes.

A funny thing to note here would be that two of University of Nottingham’s campuses had been shown in a Bollywood movie called Teri Meri Kahaani, which some of our European and English professors went to watch too!
Well, I think one of the best experiences while living in the UK was when I got the opportunity to watch the Olympics (rhythmic gymnastics) at the Wembley Stadium.

 

Holi at Nottingham

Holi at Nottingham

How’s the Indian fraternity over there? Are there many Indian students?

The Indian community in the University is not very big. The LLM Class of 2011-12 had around 100 students out of which 25 were Indians and a few Indian origin UK citizens. The Asian community is pretty big there with a lot of students from China, Korea and South East Asia. There are many societies such as the Indian society, the Hindu society, the ISKCON society and so on where you can meet a lot of Indians too who are enrolled in various fields of study at Nottingham. These societies make you feel like you are a part of a family away from home and the activities during Holi and Diwali were very well organised which my friends from all cultures and ethnicities enjoyed alike. There are quite a few excellent Indian restaurants that have all-you-can-eat buffets in store. They are preferred by Indians and non-Indians alike.

 

How is the recruitment/ placement situation for overseas students?

Ever since the UK did away with the PSW (Post study work visa), the placement situation has not been very encouraging for international students in UK. However, there are a lot of companies including banking companies and other organisations that introduce the graduate program each year. One can always apply for the same and get recruited at the end of the training period. For students applying to law firms in the UK, I found in addition to the international law firms such as Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith and the likes, there are many ethnic minority law firms which release their training contract schemes and vacation schemes every year. The best place for the information regarding employment opportunities is in the law fairs organised by your universities.

The University of Nottingham has the reputation of getting the majority of students employed each year, undergraduates and postgraduates alike. However, if you are interested in a career in academics, you should keep an eye out for various research associate positions in various universities in the UK including your own university. The Careers and Employability Services cell of University of Nottingham was very helpful with such information.

 

How was the academic schedule? Was there a lot of academic work?

The academic schedule was brilliantly designed, although the courses were very demanding. The course was a mix of full year and half year options along with a dissertation at the end which summed up to 180 credits overall. The students were at liberty to choose the subjects they wanted to take. The assessments for all the subjects were not the same. For some, 15 page essays had to be submitted, whereas for some there were exams in the end. The majority of the subjects one took decided the specialisation such as Masters in International Commercial Laws, European Laws, Human Rights Laws, Maritime law and so on.

Yes, there was a lot of academic work. For the LL.M. students there were two hour seminars each day for the subjects one chose. The hand-outs for these seminars were given out and additional reading material was put on the portals a week in advance. Studying the given topics thoroughly was a must since the seminar could not be followed otherwise and moreover one would not be able to take advantage of the seminars and the discussions in the class if they were not familiar with the topics. Also, the class performance, which was instrumental in getting recommendations from the professors, was gauged according to one’s participation in the class.

Formative assessments were also very crucial in understanding the expectations of the professors with regards to our assessments. These were not marked and were meant for practice alone. Apart from that, all the professors were very approachable and always ready to help with your doubts.

 

anwesha-pal5What about accommodation?

The accommodation that I had booked before I left for the university was Broadgate Park. It is situated in Beeston that is a 5 minutes’ walk from the School of Law and other administrative buildings. The road leading to the university goes alongside huge playgrounds, a lake with swans and a small hillock paved with neatly trimmed lawns and bushes with concealed lights that give you the feeling of living in a scenic resort.

The experience was brilliant. The best part of it was when I was placed in the students’ accommodation with girls from various countries in my flat. I made new friends from various cultures, learnt a lot from them and shared my own too.

With vast green expanses sunny days were enjoyed by the students whiling away their time on these lawns, debating over issues of politics, playing games and flying kites. We would even organise barbecues during summer break.

Broadgate Park

Broadgate Park

Broadgate Park also organises balls every half a year. The Christmas ball is an extravagant affair with European expert acrobats performing difficult acts followed by prom dances by the guests later on in the night.

The accommodation that I chose was that of a single study, although there are a wide variety of accommodations that one can choose from, including lesser expensive options.

The flat that I was allotted had flatmates from Canada, Uganda and China. I found really good friends in them. They were very accommodating and immensely helpful. Exploring Nottingham with them was an experience I will never forget. Social get-togethers with classmates were another highlight that was a very culturally enriching experience. I would encourage students going abroad to take advantage of the international experience as a whole and not limit their world to studies alone.

The accommodation also organises feasts on various occasions for free for the residing students. At such events one can get sumptuous grub, cultural exchange and make new friends.

Nottingham is a beautiful town that hosts one of the biggest fairs in Europe which is called the Goose fair. The largest Indonesian festival in the UK was held here as well. It is the land of Robinhood and his friends and you can even find the roads of the town named after them such as the Maid Marian Way, Friar Tuck lane and so on.

 

anwesha-pal3Tell us about your classmates, was there a predominantly international crowd? What was the general age group of students?

My classmates were predominantly European and Chinese students. However, there was an eclectic mix of students from the continents of Africa and other Asian countries. The style adopted in their countries regarding research and studying case laws is very different from the ones adopted in India. The way of teaching was mostly in the form of discussion and reading beyond what was enlisted in the seminar hand-outs.

The general age of students varied from 24 to 40 years. I met students from Pakistan and Africa who were in their 40s and were either already teaching at various institutions in their countries or working at solicitor firms or were Barristers in London. There was even a student from Czech Republic who was in his mid-thirties and had been working at Clifford Chance for a few years. Some of them were working in Government organisations in their countries.

 

Did you get time for any extracurricular activities?

The course had been designed very beautifully that it even left quite some time for pursuing activities other than the one that were related to academics. During the summers when the lake was not frozen, one could participate in rowing activities around the lake or join the swimming club or the belly dancing societies to learn something new. There are several student-run activities for the health conscious too. Also one could even join the baking club to learn baking or help with the charity functions. There was even a Quidditch society for the Harry Potter buffs. There were societies that enacted period wars, replete with costume and props. For those who were passionate about volunteering, there were charities that needed volunteers to work at the local departmental stores and places like the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research Institutions to help raise money.

However, for people who wanted to earn some extra bucks during the breaks, Nottingham being a university town was full of opportunities for students to work in. The ones offered by the university was the Note-taking service and other related support work for the disabled or people with handicaps in the university. The pay was very attractive with almost 16 to 20 pounds per hour with an extra holiday pay. Jobs offered by the university were by far more lucrative than any other jobs that were being offered by other organisations.

 

How does one go about scholarships? Does the institute offer any scholarship?

There are many scholarships on offer such as the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, The Developing Solutions Masters Scholarship, IELTS Scholarships, Charles Wallace India trust Scholarship, Aga Khan foundation Scholarships, Goa Education Trust (GET) Scholarships, Chevening Scholarship and so on. The detailed information is given on the university’s website. The University offers a scholarship as well. This scholarship is given by the International Office of the University. Information about the same has been provided on the website.

 

What are your future plans? Going forward, how do you expect this experience to influence your career?

My plan at the moment is to focus on my academic career and move ahead with it. I believe the experience that I have had at Nottingham coupled with my undergraduation from NUJS would be a stepping stone to an academic career that I have always dreamt of. I hope to find better opportunities for my higher research degrees with my experience in Nottingham.

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