First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.

Monika Thangavelu is currently enrolled as an LL.M. candidate at Essex University, where she is specialising in human rights.
Monika Thangavelu

Monika Thangavelu is currently enrolled as an LL.M. candidate at Essex University, where she is specialising in human rights. In this FPA, the Alliance University (’19) graduate talks about her reasons for applying right after he undergrad, the LL.M. experience thus far, and a whole lot more.

At what stage of your undergraduate degree did you decide to apply for a master’s? And what were your expectations from the course?

I decided to apply for the LLM programme in my 3rd year of LLB. I was keen in doing a masters in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law after interning at various human rights organisations such as NHRC, SHRC and District Legal Service Authority.

Initially I wanted to an in-depth knowledge of the subject and also, the international perspective of the subject. Learning from some of the experts from human rights field would help me enhance my understanding of the subject and its implementation in practice.

Given the specialised nature of your interest, what were the other schools that you applied to?

I am really sure as to my interest, so I applied to the universities that are renowned for this subject. Apart from University of Essex, I applied to Queen Mary University London, Maastricht University, National University of Ireland Galway, Middlesex University, and Bristol University.

Though, I got admitted in all of them, I chose Essex because it ranks above these in the Human Rights field.

Any advice on the application process itself, more specifically, the personal statement and the letters of recommendation?

My first advice would be “Start early” ! Secondly, look for the top universities in your field of interest rather than a general search for top universities. Look for the modules and figure out if they are the ones you are interested in. Then, before applying look carefully for what they require.

After all these processes, start writing your personal statement. Write, edit, re-edit and review your personal statement before you submit it. If the University requires you to submit your CV along with the statement, then focus more about the course, the university’s reputation, alumni and how you will benefit from it. In case, the CV is optional, then include more details about you.

With regards to the reference letter, I got it from a professor who taught me 5 modules. So, I would suggest getting it from someone who knows you better and has observed you well in and out of class.

Did you apply for/receive financial aid?

I applied for full scholarships funded by the universities. Unfortunately, I haven’t received any full scholarship. But I was awarded the ‘International Merit Scholarship’ at the University of Essex which is 5000 pounds.

Early days, but how has the LLM experience been thus far? What have been some of the highlights along the way?

The experience is good, new and energising. I found more interest in the subject of human rights after coming here. I am engaged in the Human Rights Clinic over here, which has opened me up to new opportunities and I am gaining some practical experiences too.

One of my professors is a UN Special Rapporteur and learning from him is amazing as it has widened my thoughts on some of the areas of human rights. Also, having classmates who have already numerous years of experience in the field is amazing and helps me grow my network. I am looking forward to many more surprises.

What has been the most challenging aspect thus far of the LLM?

Sometimes it is hard to do all the readings before attending a lecture. And managing your time is really crucial. It’s been a challenge but I am sure in a span of five months things would be on track.

Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?

Again, I would like to emphasize on the point of starting early. It is essential for someone who is going to spend a year of time and investment to research wisely. Look for all the scholarship opportunities and their deadlines. Remember, ‘All that glitters is not gold’, so make your decisions calm and wise.

All the best.


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