A cry for help from a foreign law student

law actually mailbag

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of my ‘law actually’ email with the sphere and I’ve received a couple of quirky bits a recently so thought I’d throw them out there. 

I’ve removed the sender’s name and the university they attend.

“I am a LLB student. I found your article very interesting and had a few queries. Actually i am in my first year and to be honest i find law very difficult. I even had to resit 2 papers-public and land law. I have not got the results yet and i am really worried because i am an international student studying at [a northern] university UK. And it is very costly. If i fail these resits i don't know what will happen. Could you please suggest me something. Do you think studying law in a british university was a bad decision. Please help me. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you”

So, fellow blawggers, what should be the advice here? 

I’ve certainly got my own ideas but I’ll be interested to get some other views.


  1. Hire a tutor. My number is ************ ;D

  2. The girl CLEARLY isn't doing ENOUGH work.

    Quite simple.

    Get your ass in gear.

  3. hehe, Andro, you hussy... you're always touting for business! :p

    Lost, sadly I think you've hit the nail on the head.

  4. I guess it depends why she has failed. It does say international student, though judging from the post language doesn't appear to be an issue.

    I would try asking for feedback on the essays; it is almost always invaluable if you can get it. It might be time for a serious sit down with your tutor(s).

    Other than that, if my first year is anything to go by, less drinking more working. There is a lot more self-study required than most people are used to.

  5. Yep, that's great advice, Ody. I was going to suggest that step 1 should be to find out exactly why things went wrong the first time. So the student's lecturers should definitely be the first port of call.

    Interestingly, it's been my experience that foreign students tend to be pretty focussed on the whole and few seem to have under-estimated what's involved. Maybe I've been swayed by what I saw during my LLM, though.

    btw, you guessed correctly that the student is female. ... interesting.

  6. I think talking to the lecturers about what went wrong is good advice. When I taught (a non-law subject) at a top UK university, a lot of the international students were indeed industrious, but some had difficulty adapting to British assessment modes.

    As a tutor, I learned that Scandinavian countries tend to have only oral exams at school and university levels. One of my Scandinavian students handed in the best essays in the class but just choked when it came to exams. In one she wrote about three sentences before giving up. She just wasn't used to the exam format. I could imagine a British student studying in Scandinavia having a similar project (i.e. choking in an oral assessment because it was not what they were used to).

    Similarly, many overseas students were not used to the question spotting approach used in British exams. They studied "too many" topics but not in enough depth to give the required standard of answers in the exams.

    These sorts of problems are easier to overcome once you've spotted them.

    Unfortunately, a number of universities have moved to anonymous marking, so it may be difficut to get individual feedback, but it's still worth pressing for it.

  7. Yeah, I think you're right in that some of the British assessment methods can seem a bit of a black art for foreign students.

    I'm not sure about the Scandinavian thing though; I studied in Sweden for a year during my undergrad degree and they were definitely used to written exams!! The Finns and Norwegians I encountered also seemed pretty familiar with them.

    I don't think they have many written exams at school-level though - or at least not as many as British kids. ...not that that means much, as we're examined to death! ;-)

  8. I think she sounds ambivalent about doing a law degree full stop. So my advice is rather different:
    If you are anything other than absolutely singleminded about becoming a lawyer - ditch it. Investigate swapping courses now. Your first priority is to get a degree. That only needs to be a law degree if you are dead set on being a lawyer.
    I wouldn't recommend anyone to do a law degree for any other reason than becoming a lawyer - there are frankly far more interesting degrees to do (I did an english degree and converted later on - best of both worlds if you ask me - but that's probably not applicable here).

    If you are dead set on a career in law - the previous comments apply.


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