Thursday, 30 June 2016
My Masters Dissertation - Masters in Law
While most undergraduate students have now gone back home for the summer, Masters and PhD students are still looming in the libraries to complete their dissertations. I was asked a few times by prospective Masters students on how the Masters course is structured and how I came up with my chosen topic for my dissertation.
I am currently working towards a LLM in Corporate and Commercial Law. Unlike other Masters degrees, a Law Masters require heavy researches and critically engaging arguments. I know some of my friends who are doing projects or experiments for their dissertations; a Law dissertation unfortunately does not have that. However, I am not complaining! I was surprised by the amount of knowledge that I have gained and how my essays have gotten better. After all, a Law student is required to know how to always support his or her point, while also acknowledging the flaw in their own arguments.
My dissertation topic is on the evaluation of the Enlightened Shareholder Value (ESV) in the UK Company Law. For law students, this will sounds familiar to you. Company law is not everyone's favourite because it has been deemed that it is too rigid and boring. I agree to a certain extent because the UK Company Law is codified and it is one of the largest (perhaps the largest too, I can't be sure) statutes in the UK.
For non-law students, my topic of dissertation is about the emphasis that the UK Company Law placed on putting the shareholders' interests first. In a company, there are many interests to look after: the company itself, the directors, the shareholders, the creditors, etc. The UK recognises the shareholders' interest first and this has drew some criticisms, because shareholders may not always understand the current state of a company. In addition, some academics claimed that shareholders often place their profit as their priority and certain actions which may benefit them may not necessarily benefit the company as a whole.
I am still in the midst of researching, so I cannot say which side I am supporting. Furthermore, the ESV is more complex than it sounds. This is because the director of a company is the one who ultimately makes the final decision and it is the director who has the most power. Thus, it is debatable if the ESV is actually enforced. But it is interesting to see how the legal and commercial worlds approach this issue.
I think that people often forget that company law is a man-made law; it is imperfect. While company law is made for companies, the companies are run by people. I found my interest in company law after completing a similar module both in my undergraduate and Masters degrees. I knew that I also enjoyed a more theoretical based approach, as I would be less restricted in how I could approach the topic.
Choosing my Masters dissertation was a bit of struggle, but everyone goes through that - it all comes down to your goal and interest. I knew I wanted something theoretical based, but still within the realms of the business/commercial world, as I am hoping for a career in that sector. And I think that's what most students forget about. I remember sitting in an interview where the interviewer asked me, "So why did you choose to this topic of dissertation?" I was lucky that my topic and the job I applied for were aligned, so I had no problems in showing my interest in both areas.
I understand that some prospective Masters students are worried that they would not be able to find their chosen topic. My advice to you is to take your time, but do not waste it. When picking your modules, try to find pick those which interest you - even just a bit! You might be surprised of how interested you actually are. Alternatively, I have seen a few course mates who combined their areas of interest - while this is still up to your supervisor to approve, it is possible!
But whatever it is that you choose to do, make sure that it is something that you are passionate about. It is cliché, but when you think about the amount of hours, research and 12,000 to 15,000 words that you have to write, being passionate about what you write is important. Only then, can you put your best effort in!
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