What have you enjoyed most about living and studying in Birmingham? What have been your favourite things to do in the city?

Birmingham has been an easy city to move into. In terms of academics, I have connected with some of the leading academicians who were my module lead for subjects close to my heart and topics I am passionate about. Discussing my ideas with them and receiving feedback on my work is something I take pleasure in while at the university.

Personally, I feel at home. This is due to the cultural diversity and the warmth of the locals. It feels like I am experiencing a part of my country here. I get to stay connected to my roots while also exploring new cultures and practices. I thoroughly enjoy walking around the city, and the sunsets are spectacular. Having a penchant for photography, I’ve been able to capture some brilliant pictures over the past few months. Autumn, as a personal favourite, has exceeded my expectations. I love strolling alongside the canals and exploring the lesser-known spots in and around the city. It has been wonderful so far.

What has surprised you most about being a student at the University of Birmingham?

I have enjoyed the pace at which the course is moving. It is generally assumed that a one-year LLM course is hectic. However, I have been able to manage my studies and pursue my hobbies, along with participating in cultural events and meetings conducted by various societies in the Guild. I can dedicate ample time to both academics and co-curricular activities. This has helped me cope with university life as an international student.

What have you learnt from your course? How has it prepared you for your future career?

Time-Management, contingency planning and being open to newer approaches to problem-solving are among the key takeaways. I have developed multi-tasking skills while working through the course. Apart from that, the course has been vital in developing critical analysis, attention to detail and multi-dimensional thinking. My coursework has equipped me with a versatile skill set and a holistic mindset, preparing me to thrive in the dynamic challenges of the legal world, regardless of the specific career trajectory I choose.

Why did you choose your course at the University of Birmingham?

The key factor in choosing my course at the University of Birmingham was the diverse range of intriguing modules available. While I could not select all the modules I desired, the university allowed me to audit lectures and access course materials, accommodating my varied interests. This flexibility was a significant advantage for someone with a broad range of academic pursuits.

Moreover, the expertise of the teaching staff in their respective specializations was truly remarkable. The chance to be guided by faculty members whose works I had previously studied during my undergraduate course in India was compelling. This personal connection was motivation enough for me to choose UoB over other options.

Please tell us about your experience of using the University's services.

Careers Network- Careers Network has helped me find opportunities that I can venture into right after my postgraduate study. I am yet to book a personal session with them. But, the fairs that have been organised so far has been helpful in weighing my options and understanding the market here in the UK. It has also helped me identify stakeholders who would potentially want candidates like me in their office and it has given me a sense of autonomy in choosing the right fit for me.

Languages for All- As a linguistically inclined person, I was excited to enroll myself for the University’s free language courses. I am learning Russian and it has been incredible so far. My progress has been as expected and my module lead is so encouraging and kind despite the fact that I butcher her mother-tongue! I am glad I am able to pursue my personal interests apart from my academic goals. This course is a weekly getaway from all the academic stress and I look forward to it every week.

English Academy- I know that written communication is not my strongest suit. But, writing was a major chunk of my course, considering all the assessments and dissertation. So, I booked a session with a tutor and was guided to take up 2 specific seminars with the Academy. These sessions have helped me navigate through my modules and I have performed decently well in the Formatives. I learnt new techniques of research and annotation. I was taught how to provide evidence for each argument I made (something indispensable in academic writing). Further guidance was provided by the module leads and clearly, there is still room for improvement and I intend to work on them for a better Summative.

Pro Bono- Earlier in the term, we were encouraged to apply for pro-bono opportunities in association with the Birmingham Law School. I have chosen to work with the Schools Consents Project- a socio legal initiative to help school children understand the concept of consent and its legal implications. This is something I am passionate about and I think there needs to be open conversation about such concepts to wear down the taboo around it. Considering pro-bono services are picking up in India as well, this could be a nice thing to add on to my CV as well. We are yet to be trained and I am looking forward to interacting with the younger members of the society.

What has been your biggest achievement during your course so far?

Personally, I have become a more organised person. I used to thrive in chaos and I still do. But, living in a new country has taught me to control many of these allegedly out-of-hand situations. I think I will continue to channel this energy into my profession as well.

Professionally, I would also like to believe that I am becoming more resourceful in terms of content contribution and adding perspective. This is something that I have always wanted to do as a person who is invited to conversations. I am guided to make better arguments and also provide evidence for the same and I think this is something that is empowering me to become better at my job.

What are the best things about your course?

A degree in the UK was particularly appealing due to the brevity of the course and the flexibility it offered in terms of choosing our modules. This is something that is not quite possible in India. Secondly, here at the Uni, I was also encouraged to pursue extra-curricular activities. This has helped me preserve my sanity in a completely new environment and has kept me engaged. I have had the opportunity to connect with people from across the globe and this has been a rewarding experience so far.

The seminars are interactive. If you have not prepared for a particular session in advance, it would make it impossible to appreciate the exchange that happens in the classroom. There have been sensitive topics that were taken up during seminars and each of those sessions were treated with utmost respect and sensitivity despite controversial arguments. I am encouraged to speak my mind without the fear of being judged or side-lined. This is something that I value about my course at the Uni. Having said that, I am also happy about how the course has been distributed over the week. I do get a couple of free days and the classes are not clustered. I get some time off and this is truly appreciated considering that this is an intensive, fast-paced course.

Also, I was disheartened when I realized I had to drop a module in Semester 1 due to the choice allotments. But, I was guided by my PAT to request access to the module resources from that particular module lead. Now, I not just have access to the resource materials, I also get to audit the seminars when I can. These are some of the things that I absolutely love about my course.

How has your funding helped you?

I have received 2 Scholarships- (1) GREAT Scholarship for Justice and Law (2) University of Birmingham Global Master’s Scholarship. It is true when I say that we were struggling as a family to organize the finances for my education abroad post-COVID. The dynamics in my family had changed completely after the Pandemic. Just as in the UK, litigation practice does not yield immediate financial success in India. The funding had helped reduce the stress of collecting resources and had enabled me to focus on my education. I also realize that it is helping me secure a job after I complete my postgraduate study here.

Apart from this, the GREAT Scholarship socials have opened up opportunities for me to connect with like-minded professionals and build nexus among my counterparts who have such great interests and varied areas of specialization. The conversations and exchange of experience has broadened my perspective on politics, legal matters and global policies.

I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to have been awarded two scholarships that have laid a robust foundation for my education in the UK. These scholarships serve as a validation for the hard work I have put in thus far, further motivating me to strive for excellence not only during my time at the University but also in my future endeavours. Being a scholarship recipient has placed me among brilliant minds and inspiring individuals, an opportunity I take seriously as I continuously engage, un-learn, learn, and grow. This experience has been instrumental in gaining diverse perspectives and exposure, which, in turn, are shaping my problem-solving skills and negotiation techniques.

On a personal level, the journey has been culturally enriching, leading me to outgrow preconceived notions and ideologies. I can see myself growing holistically, an evolution made possible by the support of these scholarships. These transformative experiences will undoubtedly contribute to my effectiveness as a member of the Bar and, if successful, as an informed and conscientious policy maker.

Tell us about yourself and your journey to postgraduate study.

I spent 3+3 years on 2 undergraduate courses- one in Literature and Language and the other in Law. I finished my degree in 2022 and due to some external circumstances, I had to defer my admission to the 2023 intake. This was an amazing intervention when I think about it in retrospect.

In the past year, I worked with the Additional State Public Prosecutor and practiced law in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu- The Madras High Court (Principal Bench). My practice was completely focused on criminal litigation and writs. So far I have gained experience in all portfolios on the side of the criminal prosecution and have assisted in resolving major questions of law before the Division Bench of the Madras High Court. I have also assisted in hundreds of Habeas Corpus cases and over 50 criminal appeals of life convicts. This experience opened me up to a wide range of technical nuances and also a new variety of inspiration washed over me. Now, I had different goals to achieve through this LLM course. Towards the end of my stay in India, I was informed that I was getting 2 incredible scholarships to aide my education here at the University of Birmingham. I could not have asked for more.

While I had already picked out criminal laws-based modules in this course, I was able to equally choose modules that I had personal interests in and subjects that stirred my curiosity. I approached my Post-Graduate study here at the University of Birmingham with a more knowledge-oriented approach rather than treating it as a means to achieve some specialization in the field of law. Although this may be looked-down upon, I think education, for the sake of curiosity and knowledge makes a person better-equipped to work his way through his career.

On a personal front, I enjoy cooking and photography. I take pleasure in travelling alone and discovering allegedly insignificant yet beautiful aspects of various cultures. I listen mostly to Indian Music and I still have a great deal to figure out about it. I am a multilingual person and I learn the patterns in languages quickly; something that helps my other interests as well. Apart from that, I am passionate about oceans and animals and cats of all shapes and sizes have my heart!

What was your motivation for postgraduate study?

As long as I can remember, I have always wished to be a teacher/professor when I grew up. I knew pursuing a Master’s degree was the first step right after graduate from Law School to achieve that goal. But, things changed when I had to defer my admission by a year. My experience as an advocate in India made me realize my potential in hardcore litigation and the demand for quality female advocates on the criminal jurisdiction. It dawned on me that representation (both as a woman and a member of my community) was vital and sought after. I am lucky and blessed to have an extremely supportive family and a passionate Senior who go great lengths to bend norms only to enable better visibility at my job. I thought it was only fair that I took this opportunity to study abroad to strengthen my foundation in law and expand my understanding and applicability of it. Hence, I intend to return to litigation practice once I finish my postgraduate study. I know I can teach at any age. But, I have convinced myself that with better experience, I become a better teacher.