Criminal Law at the University of Toronto is a multifaceted subject that sits at the intersection of several academic disciplines, and cuts to the core of fundamental matters of domestic and international public policy and social justice. The Faculty’s criminal law curriculum boasts course offerings ranging from theory to policy, history to doctrine, and from domestic to comparative to international contexts.  Faculty research in the field of criminal law represents a wide variety of methodological approaches and areas of interest.  Graduate students pursuing the concentration will obtain a nuanced understanding of key debates in criminal law and will have the opportunity to pursue in-depth research in the field from a wide range of topical, theoretical, and methodological vantage points.

"Studying Criminal Law at UofT has been fantastic. It’s an exciting mix of the deeply theoretical and the practical, the Canadian and the international, with a chance to augment legal approaches with theoretical, philosophical and social science perspectives. I’ve had a chance to meet and learn from scholars writing in diverse areas of criminal law theory and giants of Canadian legal practice. There is an active core of students focused on criminal law organizing events and lectures, as well as access to criminal law focused events through the IHRP and Asper Centre."  

Sarah Rankin, 2L       

Elements of the Criminal Law Concentration

Students in the Criminal Law concentration within the Master of Laws (LLM) program can pursue either coursework only, or, for those writing a thesis, a combination of both coursework and a thesis related to Criminal Law.  Entry into the concentration is on a competitive basis, and participation will be limited to a relatively small group of students in the LLM program.

Courses in the area of Criminal Law

Upon acceptance into the concentration, the Associate Dean (Graduate) will review each student’s course selection in order to ensure that an appropriate number of credits are devoted to criminal law. 

Why the University of Toronto?

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law has an exceptionally strong faculty complementin Criminal Law. As a student within the concentration, you will have the opportunity to study with and be supervised by the range of leading Criminal Law scholars who call the Faculty home. In addition, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law is the only law faculty in Canada to offer a specialized LL.M. concentration in Criminal Law. 

"The University of Toronto offers a unique opportunity for studying law at a graduate level. There is a large team of academics, many of whom are international leaders in their fields, offering a diverse range of topics from criminal law theory to the history of criminal law, state security and comparative criminal law. In addition to this, there are many additional seminars and events at which speakers present and discuss work in progress. Altogether it makes for a stimulating and challenging environment."

Professor Lindsay Farmer, University of Glasgow

Who Should Pursue the Criminal Law Concentration?

Canadian and international students, as well as lawyers wishing to specialize in Criminal Law, will find the concentration particularly helpful in expanding both their doctrinal and theoretical knowledge of the subject. Students looking to pursue advanced work in Criminal Law will also find that the concentration offers them a strong foundation from which to pursue further studies, including doctoral studies.

"At UofT Law I was thrust -- almost by accident -- into a maelstrom of modern legal thought. Not a week goes by that the faculty doesn't host events featuring the cutting edge of criminal law research. Since we are so close to UofT's Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies,these events get significant cross-pollination from the "other" perspective on criminal law. By the start of my second year, I had been personally involved in three criminal law related international research projects and the attendant workshops held at UofT. These introduced me to criminal law theorists from throughout Canada, as well as Australia, Germany, Israel, Holland, Norway, the UK, and the US."

John Koziar, 2L             

Application Process

Admission requirements for students in the Criminal Law concentration are the same as for students in the general LLM program, with the exception that a specific interest in the concentration area must be addressed in the Thesis Proposal or Coursework Plan of Study. Applicants should substantiate their interest in and suitability for the Criminal Law concentration through this statement and their letters of reference. Admission to the program is on a competitive basis, and spots in the concentration will be limited.

Students wishing to pursue coursework and a thesis in the area of Criminal Law, but who are not accepted into the Criminal Law concentration, may nevertheless be accepted into the LLM program.

All applicants are required to review in detail all of the information and various links within our Admissions Standards and Application Instructions webpages.  Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on our Graduate Program FAQ webpage.

Credit Requirements

All students in the LLM concentration in Criminal Law may pursue either the LLM program coursework-only option, or a longer or shorter thesis option.

Coursework-only Option with a Concentration in Criminal Law  (28 course credits):

Students in the concentration who pursue the coursework-only option would complete 28 course credits in the LLM program.  Students pursuing this option would complete:

  • LLM Seminar (1 credit).
  • At least 12 credits of courses from an approved list of Criminal Law courses.
  • Additional courses, either within or outside of the list of Criminal Law courses above, to bring them to 28 total credits.
  • Just as in the general LL.M. program, there is also a course-related writing requirement under the coursework-only option, which must be fulfilled in a course related to the area of concentration.  Students must designate at the start of the first term one course as their ‘writing requirement’ course; this course must include writing assignments totaling at least 3,500 words (combined) throughout the course.
  • Students are also able to take courses at the UofT Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal studies to count towards their Criminal Law concentration credits.  Law students may take a maximum of three graduate level courses at the Centre for Criminology per academic year.  This arrangement further expands the range of courses that students in the concentration can take in Criminal Law. 

Short Thesis Option with a Concentration in Criminal Law (24 course credits):

If students in the concentration opt to prepare a short thesis of 50-60 pages (15,000 words), they would complete 24 credits in the program.  Students pursuing this option would complete:

  • Alternative Approaches to Legal Scholarship (3 credits) and LLM Seminar (1 credit).
  • A short, 4-credit thesis in a subject related to Criminal Law.
  • At least 8 credits of Criminal Law coursework from an approved list of Criminal Law courses.
  • Students are also able to take courses at the UofT Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal studies to count towards their Criminal Law concentration credits.  Law students may take a maximum of three graduate level courses at the Centre for Criminology per academic year.  This arrangement further expands the range of courses that students in the concentration can take in Criminal Law.
  • Students would take 8 additional credits of coursework, either from the list of Criminal Law courses, or from outside of that list.

Longer Thesis Option with a Concentration in Criminal Law (24 course credits):

If students in the concentration opt to prepare a longer thesis of 150 pages (45,000 words), they would also complete 24 credits in the program.  Students pursuing this option would complete:

  • Alternative Approaches to Legal Scholarship (3 credits) and LLM Seminar (1 credit).
  • A longer, 16-credit thesis in a subject related to Criminal Law.
  • Up to 4 additional credits of coursework, either from the approved list of Criminal Law courses, or from outside of that list.