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LLM TILA Centre for Human Rights Advert 2024 web1. Overview of the LLM trade program, including its objectives and areas of focus.

The program is a joint venture between the law faculties of the University of Pretoria and the University of Western Cape. It was introduced in 2023. The objective of the program is to develop legal experts who are versed in the unique aspects of trade and investment law as pertains to Africa. Therefore, the program aims to contribute to the development of Africa through the building of the said capacity of legal experts. The impact of this program can be seen in the vast network of alumni who are in various positions of influence in the public and private sectors all over Africa and other continents. All this takes place while emphasising the human rights aspects of trade and investment. The program falls under the International Development Law Unit (IDLU) of the Centre for Human Rights.

2. What sets this LLM trade program apart from others in terms of curriculum?

This program is unique for various reasons. Such as that it was specifically designed to capacitate a student in very specific areas of trade and investment in Africa. Secondly, the program is intensive as classes typically take place all day, weekdays including on weekends if necessary. Classes are held in February through June when exams are held. Students must also have their research proposal approved in the first semester. Thereafter the second semester is focused on the mini dissertation which must be concluded around September. Thirdly, almost all classes are conducted by external experts. Fourth, the program is Pan African and each intake must comprise students from various African countries and regions. No country may have more than seven students per intake. This gives applicants from all regions a fair chance of qualifying.

3. What types of students are typically attracted to this program, and what background or qualifications are usually required for admission?

Students in this program come from both the public and private sectors. They are typically in their 20s. They come from all African regions: West, East, Central and South African. The students vary from recent LLB graduates to those with several years of work experience. The minimum qualifications are an LLB, BProc or equivalent degree that would enable a person to practice law in their home country. This is mandatory and applicants who don’t hold any of these will be rejected outright. An applicant must obtain a weighted average of 65% in the final year for the undergraduate degree. If a student didn’t obtain this but subsequently did so or obtained a postgraduate degree, then they can be considered.

In addition to the general admission requirements, the following specific selection criteria are used in combination to select the eligible students, hence applicants are asked for details in these areas:

i. a demonstrated professional, academic and personal interest in and commitment to international trade and investment law
ii. an indication that the applicant would be likely to put the qualification to good use in his or her future career, preferably in his or her country of origin (the ‘multiplier effect’);
iii. geographic representation (in the sense that an overrepresentation of students from a particular African country will be avoided, given the pan-African scope and ambitions of the programme);
iv. gender representation (in the sense that an equitable balance between women and men is sought);
v. equitable representation of persons from vulnerable communities (such as persons with disabilities, persons belonging to indigenous communities and LGBTI persons).

4. Can you walk us through the application process for the LLM trade program, including any specific requirements or deadlines?

Applications are done online on our Centre for Human Rights website www.chr.up.ac.za/tila. Applications opened on 1 April and will close on 31 July. The application process is in two stages. Stage one takes place in the online platform, Submittable, via the link above. The aim of this stage is to screen and shortlist applicants. Normally, 3 times the number of spaces available are available. In this stage applicants go through three selection stages from initial screening to a final shortlist. In the second stage the shortlisted applicants are processed in the university’s application system. This is where formalities such as SAQA verification, visa requirements etc. come in.

5. Could you highlight some of the faculty members or industry experts involved in teaching and mentoring students in the LLM trade program?

Experts participate based on their availability each year. Names of our standing experts are on our website. Suffice it to say that they come from various backgrounds in Africa, Europe, the USA etc. They come from the public and private sectors such as from law firms, international finance institutions, organisations, and universities etc.

6. How does the LLM trade program incorporate real-world experiences or practical applications into its curriculum, and how does it prepare students for the evolving landscape of international trade?

This is achieved by utilising experts to present classes. They bring a real-world perspective of the areas they present on. Students are also given tasks which require them to work in groups such as making assessed presentations on an issue Furthermore, the mini dissertation gets students to delve into their chosen research area, and enables them to apply what they have learned.

7. Are there any opportunities for internships, research projects, or study abroad experiences within the LLM trade program?

There’s no specific internship program or arrangement at the moment. Opportunities therefore are always being sought to enhance the students' experience. Nonetheless, our students have been able to secure these on their own due to the appeal of the program. Students are allowed to use the second semester to serve internships locally or anywhere.

8. What career pathways do graduates of the LLM trade program typically pursue, and how does the program support their professional development?

The program doesn’t channel students in any one direction. Instead it capacitates them to pursue any opportunities that may present themselves in the public and private sectors. And to do so with utmost confidence. Some students continue toward their LLD. Right now two of the 2023 alumni are doing their LLD here. Closer to home, the doctoral researcher in this program Dr Basimanyane is an alumni of this program, having completed her LLD here in 2023.

9. What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering applying for the LLM trade program?

Foreign qualifications must be evaluated by SAQA and it is for applicants to ensure that this is done. Prospective students are encouraged to apply as this is a unique opportunity that will empower them in ways that no other program can do. Classes are small, typically 15-25, so space is limited. Furthermore, applicants who are employed will be required to take leave for the first semester in particular, and can be off campus for the second. International students (out of South Africa) must have a passport at the time of admission, but they need not have one upon application. If the application site requires a copy of a passport they can upload a copy of their identification documents instead.

10. Are there any upcoming events, workshops, or initiatives related to the LLM trade program that prospective students should be aware of?

No.

11. Can you provide details about the financial structure of the LLM trade program, including tuition fees and any additional expenses?
Additionally, could you elaborate on the scholarship opportunities available for students interested in pursuing the program? 

Fees differ based on whether students are from South Africa, SADC countries or non/SADC countries. For the 2023 academic year the fees were as follows (excluding books, accommodation, travel and subsistence etc): RSA students: R50 500.00 SADC students: R55 000.00 (incl international levy) Non-SADC students: R104 000 (incl international levy).

The fees for 2025 are yet to be confirmed, an increase on the above fees is expected. Students who do not receive scholarships may be admitted as self-funding students, provided they guarantee payment of at least all or a significant part of tuition, accommodation and official programme activities, to an amount set by the Centre annually. At the moment there is no guaranteed full bursary, currently secured bursaries pay a portion of the tuition fees.

12. Is there anything else you would like to share with any prospective applicants about the LLM trade program?

Prospective applicants must access our website for additional information at www.chr.up.ac.za/tila


All enquiries:

Programme Manager:
LLM International Trade and Investment Law in Africa
 

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