Have I ever mentioned that my flatmate Emily studies law? We both study intense subjects but I have noticed some peculiar differences between the two courses. So, now that both courses’ exams have finished, I’ve decided to explore the distinctions between Maths and Law. (If you think Maths students have it hard, brace yourself!)
What is the course work like?
Leon: Very numerical, naturally. Most days I practice applying a numerical formula to different questions. Other times it’s simply a memory game. There are so many theorems and proofs to remember that you have to keep reading over them.
Emily: Heavy on reading. You can never read too much. And if you’re a keen student, you always feel like you’ve not read enough. There’s also a lot of thinking going on while reading: you are analysing, questioning, and applying the material.”
How much workload do you receive on a weekly basis?
Leon: Homework’s a killer. I usually receive 2/3 a week but they require time for research. Evaluative coursework is extremely long, too, but it usually counts for a higher percentage of your grade and appears less often
Emily: If you follow the module curriculum’s schedule of one ‘topic’ per week, that generally consists of 1-2 chapters of a textbook a week, plus the recommended readings (e.g. journal articles), plus the relevant court case judgments. Now, multiply that by the number of modules you have.
I say ‘if’ because many students don’t choose to concentrate on every topic. They will spread their focus over selected ones. Also, because most students are heavily involved in extracurricular activities, coursework gets pushed to revision time, which is another story…
Describe your course mates
Leon: “Invaluable. In Maths, we are simply ‘in it together’. However, watch out for the freeloaders trying to take your homework and offer no support in return.”
Emily: Likewise, peers in the law course are great resources. They can offer a lot of support. They understand the special situation you’re in as they too tend to be in a similar boat.
How much free time do you have on a typical weekday?
Leon: “Most days, a 9-5 shift is required so for me, about 5 hours of free time. Other days, I get so obsessed that I stay at uni till midnight!
Emily: It varies between students, but I personally find free time to be minimal. This is mainly because aside from coursework, extracurricular activities happen on weekdays.
Are you expected to be involved in extracurricular activities?
Leon: “Nope. Just complete your homework’s and d your revision. It’s not even compulsory even have to attend extra classes
Emily: I say it’s an unofficial expectation. Law students who are seeking to become barristers or solicitors will find that any post-graduate application will stress extracurricular activities. Good grades are taken for granted, as a ‘given’. It is what is done on top of earning those grades that helps you stand out.
Are you able to have a social life?
Leon: “Yes, the workload is high but if you are competent and efficient, you can have at least one day off work (usually only on weekends).
Emily: Again, it varies between students. Many law students successfully maintain a robust social life. I found that that’s the part that ‘has to give’ for me personally. On the other hand, my social life is assisted by extracurricular activities, which are done with peers, so it allows me to interact while still being productive.
What advice would you offer me if I were to swap courses with you?
Leon: From my experience, you don’t have to be naturally smart to study Maths. But you need a solid memory and that can be attained by hard work.
It’s clear to me that work is your first priority Emily so you could switch to Maths right now and I’m confident you will get that first.
Emily: As a final-year student, I will be walking away with a LLB degree – and a wealth of experience that translates well into advice. (I might consider writing a book or at least a booklet!)
Generally, my advice to you to get involved outside of the lecture hall. The extracurricular activities will give you something to speak to during interviews and applications, as well as allowing you to meet people.
Also, your resilience will be tested a lot during your LLB studies.
I’d advise you to remind yourself that failure (e.g. a low grade, a rejection from a job) is delay, not defeat. Failure is a detour, not a dead end.
Finally, knowing you, I’d also say to keep that drive and determination, Leon!
So guys, I think we’ve established that Maths and Law have their distinctions but in the end, I can safely say I am happy to be studying Maths because Law sounds three times harder!