Open Eye: It's what it says, not what it means, that counts

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What's in a name? Quite a bit, apparently, if you are considering studying for a law degree.

The Open University has decided to change its award from a Bachelor of Arts (BA) to a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), in a move that is expected to attract even more than the current 1,300 students to the popular programme.

The University's Law degree, run in collaboration with the College of Law, was launched only last year but it already has the largest intake of any taught law degree course in Britain and has earned the respect of professional bodies and large law firms.

The students, whose ages range from 18 to 82, come from all parts of the UK and Western Europe and from all walks of life. Not all want a career as lawyers, although there is a high percentage of interest from those whose work is related to law in the civil service, the courts, health and safety, the Inland Revenue, and many branches of science and medicine.

The Senate and Council of the Open University has approved the law degree's change of status to LLB - a decision which has delighted the OUs Law Programme Director, Dr Gary Slapper.

"There is a great concern among many people keen to study for a law degree that they should be awarded an LLB. These letters seem to carry an almost mystical cachet in some circles," he said.

"The letters stand for legum baccalaureus, Bachelor of Laws, although I was surprised to find in doing research in some leading firms and chambers, that only about four out of ten possessors of the qualification could accurately remember the Latin!"

The new LLB, like the OU's BA in Law, can be a qualifying law degree, which allows graduates to continue directly to professional training without taking any further academic exams.

See: Name your next degree, on this page