Become an expert in an area of the law that engages your interest or stirs your passion. Our Master of Laws (by Research) allows in-depth study of a legal topic.
VU offers support and guidance from leading legal researchers. For your masters degree, you’ll complete a major thesis, worthy of publication, under expert supervision.
Our research program maintains strong links with public-sector authorities such as the Department of Justice, as well as private law firms – offering access to real-world scenarios for investigation.
Our governance research program focuses on:
- governance and regulation
- the scholarship of legal education
- international law
- courts and justice.
Your thesis will be equal to a combined total of 192 credit points. You may apply to transfer to our Law PhD, building on your strong legal research skills, and aiming for top academic, government or law-firm positions.
In our research program, we work with industry partners to solve real-world problems. Research is undertaken by academic staff members and research students. Staff include leading researchers in local and international law.
You’ll also benefit from the guidance of professionals appointed as adjuncts to the law college. These are honorary staff who hold positions in the legal community. VU’s adjunct professors include retired High Court Judge the Hon Michael Kirby.
VU offers fantastic opportunities to network and learn through industry partnerships and international collaborations.
You’ll benefit from embedding your research in real scenarios. You’ll also have a chance to conduct your research overseas with one of our exchange partners.
Some of our major clients, partners and industry associations are:
- Department of Justice, Victoria
- Migration Agents Registration Authority
- Migration Institute of Australia
- Department of Labour (New Zealand)
- FCG Legal
- Department of Education and Employment (Commonwealth; Learn Experience Access Professions Program)
- Rob Stary Lawyers
- Law Institute of Victoria
- Council of Legal Education
- Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria (Melbourne, Sunshine)
- Society of Notaries of Victoria
- Victoria Police
- Department of Police Prosecutions.
Our Queen St Campus puts you right in the middle of Melbourne’s legal precinct, giving you excellent access to the courts and legal libraries. Our close relationships with courts, legal services and law firms provide many unique research opportunities. You’ll gain real experience and insight into legal practice, and build networks for your career.
Benefit from our location in the heart of the legal district
Law lecturers and researchers Kathy Laster and Nadav Prawer have expertise in international conflict resolution, criminology, legal history, gender and multiculturalism.
Careers in law and legislative policy
A Master of Laws will help you advance your career in academia, the law and related fields. It also opens the doors to academic or government advisory roles.
Careers in law are paid well.
Use Job Outlook to find average salaries for various law-related professions in Australia.
The standard duration of a Masters Degree (Research) is two years of full-time study or part-time equivalent, although in certain circumstances the degree may be completed in eighteen months.
In some cases the student may be required to complete approved coursework units such as laboratory skills or research design as part of the Masters Degree (Research).
The course objectives are to produce graduates who have the following knowledge and skills:
- a body of knowledge that includes the understanding of recent developments in one or more discipline
- advanced knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to the field of work or learning
- cognitive skills to demonstrate mastery of theoretical knowledge and to reflect critically on theory and its application
- cognitive, technical and creative skills to investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories and to apply established theories to different bodies of knowledge or practice
- cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate complex ideas and concepts at an abstract level
- cognitive and technical skills to design, use and evaluate research and research method
- communication and technical skills to present a coherent and sustained argument and to disseminate research results to specialist and non-specialist audience
- technical and communication skills to design, evaluate, implement, analyse, theorise and disseminate research that makes a contribution to knowledge
This knowledge and these skills will be demonstrated through the planning and execution of a substantial piece of research:
- with creativity and initiative
- with a high level of personal autonomy and accountability, demonstrating expert judgement, adaptability and responsibility as a learner
What's a unit?
A unit or 'subject' is the actual class you'll attend in the process of completing a course.
Most courses have a mixture of compulsory 'core' units that you need to take and optional elective units that you can choose to take based on your area of interest, expertise or experience.
Each unit is worth a set amount of study credits based on the amount of time you study. Generally, 1 credit is equal to 1 hour of study per week.
Admission & pathways
Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee you entry into this course. Some courses receive more applications than the number of places available. In this situation we will also assess your education, work and other relevant experience.
If you have completed study with another university or institution and believe you are eligible to receive credit for skills and past study, you can apply for advanced standing.
Applications for advanced standing can be made after a discussion with your course chair or academic adviser.
(a) Academic achievement and preparation to a level that is sufficient to undertake masters level research demonstrated in any one or more of the following:
i. Qualified, at minimum, for a bachelors degree at a standard considered by the University to be sufficiently meritorious (normally Distinction average in the final year); or
ii. Qualified for any other award judged by the University to be of a relevant and appropriate standard and have:
•Produced evidence of professional experience; and
•Fulfilled any other conditions relating to prerequisite studies which the University may impose.
(b) Demonstrated competency in English sufficient to work at research masters level, through meeting one or more of the following criteria:
i. Successful completion of one of the degrees stipulated under a) i) – ii) above with English as the language of instruction and assessment and undertaken in a predominantly English speaking context; or
ii. Been taught for two of the past five years at a tertiary institution where English was the primary language of instruction; or
iii. Achieved an overall band score of not less than 6.5 in an International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) test with no individual band score below 6.0; or
iv. Achieved a score of not less than 92 and no section score less than 22 in the internet-based Teaching of English Foreign Language (TOEFL) test; or
v. Documented evidence of English proficiency equivalent to the above.
How to apply
You will need to follow the six steps to becoming a research student.
Contact the Office for Researcher Training, Quality & Integrity on +61 3 9919 4522 or email [email protected] if you require further information.