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.

Vishal Sharma is a currently pursuing an LL.M. in Legal & Political Aspects of International Affairs at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. For this graduate of the Himachal Pradesh University Institute of Legal Studies, the LL.M. will be the second post-graduate degree, the first being an M.A. in Public Policy, Law and Governance from the Central University of Rajasthan.

In this FPA, Vishal shares the reasons behind opting for an M.A., the learning experience at Cardiff, and a whole lot more.

(Edited excerpts)

Vishal Sharma is an LL.M. Candidate at Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Vishal Sharma

After your undergraduate law degree, you opted for an MA in Public Policy, Law & Governance – what attracted you towards this course? And how useful was your law degree during this course?

During the time I was pursuing my B.A.LL.B (Hons.) from the Himachal Pradesh University Institute of Legal Studies, Shimla I had built a lot of interest in Public Law.

As I was nearing the end of the program I happened to go to New Delhi for an internship in a renowned firm where I worked on the initial research for a Supreme Court writ petition concerning the need for compulsory voting in India.

In the process, I realised how important the study of Public Policy and Governance was for a person who is interested in Public Law and thus got attracted to the M.A. in Public Policy, Law & Governance programme at the Central University of Rajasthan. The course is the first of its kind course in India which fuses the techniques and approaches of Public Policy and Governance with the Indian legal theory and practice.

The course offered almost everything I was in search for and my law degree was very useful in that concern as I could understand the legal technicalities of policy making and governance in a better way and form.

Right after the MA, you enrolled for the LL.M. at Cardiff – again, what were some of the reasons that made you look for the second master’s degree?

I initially had no plans of studying further as I wanted to join legal practice focusing more on Public Law, but as I was nearing the end of the two-year Master’s degree, I with the support of a few friends started an organization called the Limbic Movement.

This is the World’s first ideological movement centred around an organizational sphere furthering the use of the  Limbic Ideological Dimension (A theory I have been working on for some time which is aimed at the formation of a New Political Spectrum) in the areas of Public Policy, Law and Social Work.

When researching on some policy considerations which we were aiming to work on under the initiative I realised that a lot of the policy making in the current system was dependent on the international setups and actors and for this reason I decided that I needed to train myself in a field related to international law.

How did you go about selecting where to apply? And why narrow down on Cardiff?

The course was the first priority for me and UK seemed to be the best destination as I found some interesting courses offered by the premier Russell Group Universities.

Thus, I choose to apply for an LLM in Legal & Political Aspects of International Affairs at Cardiff University and an LLM in International Law and Governance at Durham University as these were the only two courses I was interested in.

I got offers from both the Universities, but I choose Cardiff University as the framework of the course was based on a combination of International Law and International Relations which aims at analysing the legal and political aspects of international affairs affecting public systems all across the world, providing me with what I wanted to study.

Any advice on the application process itself?

My only advise is that one should prepare a professional CV and personal statement which is precise and that one should try to apply as early as possible.

Did you apply for/receive financial aid?

The options were very limited concerning this specialization, but I managed to get partial financial aid.

How has the LLM experience been thus far? What are some of the differences between the MA and the LLM as a student?

The LLM experience has been very challenging and every day has been a learning experience. The education system when compared to India is also quite different and more focus is put on analysis and ideas and this new way of dealing with issues is what I feel will help me in the long run.

Concerning the MA and LLM question I believe that they cannot be compared as both are entirely separate domains but from what I have witnessed one can say that an MA student has to work more on the art of understanding the narrative upon which systems work.

While, on the other hand, an LLM student has to work more on understanding the frameworks through which systems work.

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

I advise everyone to give the first and only preference to the course as the education system in especially the Western countries demands originality and innovation from the student at every step.

So, if you choose the wrong course and specialization things may get very tough for you.