Antonia’s blog, Analysing Advocacy, is where she shares her passion for human rights law and how this impacts advocacy.
What is your current area of study and what previous qualifications have you obtained?
Hi everyone! I’m Antonia, I’m from Northern Ireland and I’m currently pursuing a Masters in Law (LLM) in Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast. I achieved a BSc in Social Science from Minerva University, an innovative University that combines 4 years of world travel (to San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London and Taipei) and an international student body from over 60 countries. ⠀
What made you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?
I decided to pursue a masters degree after taking a Constitutional Law class in my last year of university. It was my first law class and I immediately fell in love with the subject. I had always been passionate about human rights and advocacy but wasn’t sure how I wanted to pursue it. Law was the perfect tool to apply my problem-solving skills and organisational rigour to the field.
Did you take time out and work or go straight into your postgraduate course following your undergraduate degree and why?
I went straight into my masters from my undergrad, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. It did mean that I was familiar with writing essays and attending seminars as that had been the norm for the last 4 years, but honestly, with the pandemic and with taking on multiple jobs to advance my career, I quickly experienced burnout and became overwhelmed. So take into account whether you want to work or study, both have their benefits, but I don’t recommend doing both simultaneously!
What factors did you take into consideration when selecting which course to pursue?
When I was looking into my masters I was deciding between studying in the UK or the US. My undergraduate was in the US so I was familiar with the style, but that meant 4 more years and taking the LSAT which I wasn’t sure about. Pursuing law in the UK meant that I was deciding between doing the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) which meant that I would do a conversion diploma to gain the same skills as those achieved in an LLB. However, I decide to do an LLM as it’s a higher qualification and meant that I could specialise in Human Rights law which is important to me and the lower cost made it much more accessible. To become a lawyer, I still have some training and further study to do, but pursuing an LLM in Human Rights Law means that I can go into the Human Rights field immediately and start working in the sector I want to be in and explore various roles within it.
Did your course meet your expectations and why?
The course exceeded my expectations significantly! I didn’t realise there was so much I didn’t know about human rights law and I’ve learned so much (which was exactly the point!) My professors are all fantastic and despite the online aspect due to covid, I felt very supported and was able to connect with my professors and get their advice on career progression. I am so glad I pursued this LLM as I’ve learnt so much and have enjoyed it thoroughly!
What role do you hope to go into once you complete your postgraduate course?
Pursuing this LLM has reaffirmed my career choice, and clarified that I’m on the right track to doing what I want to do; human rights law! I will be taking a few years out of academia to focus on building my professional experience and saving up money to get my law qualification. I’m unsure where I want to be (which is important for qualifying in law as it’s jurisdictional) so I’ll be travelling for the next few years living all over the world to figure out where to be based. In sum, I’m super excited to explore different career opportunities in the next few years and take some time to focus on my development: both personal and professional.
What advice would you give to someone unsure as to what they should study at postgraduate level?
My advice would be to explore something you want to learn about, something new that you’re interested in, and to make sure that the university you choose is a supportive one. Talk to your undergraduate professors in the field to understand more and see if it’s the right fit for you, and remember if you’re not sure, take a year out to explore and decide! There’s no rush to make this decision, and if anything it will make you feel better about the decision if you aren’t under pressure!