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Course overview

Developments over the last two decades have made public procurement law one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving areas of law. Given the extent to which legal rules now govern the day to-day conduct of most procurement activity, knowledge of procurement law has become vital for anyone working in public sector procurement.

This programme is open to those with a legal background and those without, and does not require a law degree. It is designed in particular for:

  • procurement officers whose role demands an understanding of the legal rules
  • policymakers responsible for designing and implementing legal rules on procurement
  • lawyers advising on public procurement
  • those seeking to undertake research or teaching in public procurement

It provides a thorough understanding of:

  • the nature of law and legal process
  • the principles and rules of public procurement law
  • the application of these rules in key national and international systems/models, including UNCITRAL, the WTO, the World Bank, the EU and the UK
  • how to implement best practice in the context of a legal framework

Brexit impact

For the UK, it is quite possible that there will be significant changes to our procurement rules as a result of Brexit. There are currently plans to produce new draft legislation in 2020 and this could become law in 2021. These developments will be fully covered in our programme. Should the law change soon after you complete, we will provide you with our new materials that cover any changes free of charge.

We will continue to teach EU procurement law alongside the new UK rules. This is both for our large number of students from outside the UK and because EU concepts are likely still to remain relevant for the UK to a degree under any new rules.

Why choose this course?

Innovative programme

You will be taught by leading academics from the school's world-renowned Public Procurement Research Group

Range of materials

You will receive an extensive range of course materials, comprising bespoke mini-textbooks supplemented with additional readings and self-test questions and answers

Teaching sessions

Each module (other than Legal Research Methods) is supported by a two-day intensive teaching session, held at the University of Nottingham

Course content

The course is predominantly delivered by distance learning and designed to be studied part-time to fit around your commitments. For each module, you are provided with extensive materials including basic text, case studies, further reading and self-test questions. 

You will also receive a reading pack of core academic articles and legislation for each module. Material is provided via online learning system Moodle, and there is online academic support as well as an online discussion forum for each module.

Modules

The Public Procurement Law and Policy LLM programme is offered on a part-time basis, to be completed over 24 months. This requires the completion of eight modules plus a dissertation.

Core modules

Introduction to Public Procurement Regulation: Basic Principles and Concepts

This module first examines basic concepts in procurement regulation, specifically the objectives of regulatory provisions (such as value for money, integrity, accountability, social development and procedural efficiency) and their relationship with each other, and the key principles of transparency and competition through which such objectives are implemented.

The module then considers how these objectives and principles are typically implemented and balanced in regulatory rules by reference to a study of the main rules of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement. This study will cover regulatory rules on: the scope of public procurement rules; procurement methods for goods, construction and services (including professional services); qualification and pre-qualification (including use of qualification lists); specifications; bid evaluation; conclusion of contracts; and supplier review (bid challenge/remedies).

The module will also provide an introduction to further issues, namely procurement of privately financed infrastructure; electronic communications and auctions; framework agreements; and horizontal policies (use of procurement to promote social, environmental and industrial development etc).

EU Procurement Law 1

This module examines the basic rules and policies of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and also provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers the purpose of the EU rules; the application of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to public procurement; the core rules contained in Directive 2014/24 and associated instruments - in particular the coverage of the directive, the detail of the main award procedures (open, restricted, competitive procedure with negotiation, and negotiated procedure without prior publication) and the rules on drafting specifications; changes to concluded contracts; and the remedies regime and the risks of legal challenge.

The module also examines the way in which the procedural rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

EU Procurement Law 2

This module examines various specific topics in EU public procurement, building on the foundations provided by the module EU Procurement Law 1, and provides a critical assessment of the relevant EU rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • framework agreements
  • electronic procurement
  • regulation of the utilities sector
  • social and environmental policies in public procurement
  • innovation (including the innovation partnership procedure)
  • in-house and public-public arrangements

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

Corruption and Collusion in Public Procurement

This module examines the phenomena of corruption and collusion in public procurement and explores methods used in national and international systems to identify, prevent and sanction occurrences of these phenomena.

It covers, inter alia: the role and limits of transparency rules in addressing corruption; the revelation of corruption through investigations and audits; practical mechanisms to deter and redress corruption including criminal and administrative sanctions (such as debarment), codes of ethics and anti-corruption commissions; the role of rules against foreign bribery; and the role of competition law in dealing with supplier collusion.

Government Procurement in the WTO

This module examines the current rules regulating government procurement under the Agreements of the World Trade Organization, covering both the multilateral agreements (in particular GATT and GATS) and the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement. This includes the current coverage of the GPA rules; the approach to GPA negotiations; the obligations for covered procurement under the GPA in relation to tendering; the system of enforcement (intergovernmental enforcement and supplier challenge systems); and the impact of the GPA on use of procurement promote social objectives and sustainable development.

The module also explores the current initiatives for expanding the multilateral rules on procurement, notably the discussions relating to a new Transparency Agreement. The module will explore the relevant issues from the perspective of all types of countries, including developing countries and transition economies/countries with a large state sector.

Legal Research Methods in Public Procurement

This module examines the different methods relevant for research in public procurement regulation, including the objectives, benefits and limitations of each, and their inter-relationship. It provides an in-depth examination of doctrinal legal method and an introduction to other key research methods, including theoretical, comparative law, qualitative and quantitative. 

These various methods will be examined through studying general literature on research methods and through specific case studies of the use of the different methods in the context of research on public procurement regulation.

Optional modules

Organisation and Management of Procurement Systems

This module examines the key issues relating to the setting up and management of public procurement systems, including in the specific context of developing countries.

It covers basic institutional structures (such as whether to use centralised and decentralised approaches to tasks and institutions, and the nature of policy authorities); the development of systems, including preparation of laws, recording/reporting requirements, and management of information systems; implementation issues, such as bid documentation and use of benchmarking and performance; and development of human resource capacity.

Or

EU Procurement Law 3

This module examines the various specialist topics of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • the Defence and Security Directive 2009/81/EC
  • the Concessions Directive 2014/23
  • public-private partnerships in EU procurement Law (including institutional public-private partnerships (IPPs))
  • centralised procurement (including Central Purchasing Bodies)
  • collaborative procurement between EU Member States
  • competition law (including state aid) and procurement
  • the EU's Acquired Rights Directive
  • the EU's relations with third countries in public procurement

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented in UK legislation and case law.

Procurement and Development

This module examines issues relating to procurement and development. It divides into two major components, the role of procurement in the delivery of aid to developing countries and the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries. As to the role of procurement in the delivery of aid, the course examines the procurement procedures and policies of major multilateral, regional and national institutions. It covers the procurement procedures and policies of the development banks, in particular the World Bank and the regional development banks, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions.

The module also examines the procurement procedures and policies of the major bilateral aid institutions, though here it must necessarily be selective. As for the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries, the course explores the move towards reform of procurement systems, the role of the UNCITRAL Model Law, and problems associated with capacity building in developing countries.

Or

UK Public Procurement Law

This module examines in detail those aspects of UK procurement law that do not derive from the EU's procurement regime. In particular, the module will consider how the UK's general rules of constitutional and administrative law operate in the area of public procurement and may impact upon procurement practice.

The subjects covered include the impact of Freedom of Information law for disclosure of information; application and consequences in procurement of the ultra vires rule; local government powers relating to shared service and joint procurement; and judicial control of procurement awards through common law judicial review and the "Blackpool" implied contract governing tendering procedures.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 09 November 2020.

The PGDip programme is offered on a part-time basis, to be completed over 21 months. This requires the completion of eight modules. There is no dissertation.

Core modules

Introduction to Public Procurement Regulation: Basic Principles and Concepts

This module first examines basic concepts in procurement regulation, specifically the objectives of regulatory provisions (such as value for money, integrity, accountability, social development and procedural efficiency) and their relationship with each other, and the key principles of transparency and competition through which such objectives are implemented.

The module then considers how these objectives and principles are typically implemented and balanced in regulatory rules by reference to a study of the main rules of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement. This study will cover regulatory rules on: the scope of public procurement rules; procurement methods for goods, construction and services (including professional services); qualification and pre-qualification (including use of qualification lists); specifications; bid evaluation; conclusion of contracts; and supplier review (bid challenge/remedies).

The module will also provide an introduction to further issues, namely procurement of privately financed infrastructure; electronic communications and auctions; framework agreements; and horizontal policies (use of procurement to promote social, environmental and industrial development etc).

EU Procurement Law 1

This module examines the basic rules and policies of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and also provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers the purpose of the EU rules; the application of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to public procurement; the core rules contained in Directive 2014/24 and associated instruments - in particular the coverage of the directive, the detail of the main award procedures (open, restricted, competitive procedure with negotiation, and negotiated procedure without prior publication) and the rules on drafting specifications; changes to concluded contracts; and the remedies regime and the risks of legal challenge.

The module also examines the way in which the procedural rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

EU Procurement Law 2

This module examines various specific topics in EU public procurement, building on the foundations provided by the module EU Procurement Law 1, and provides a critical assessment of the relevant EU rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • framework agreements
  • electronic procurement
  • regulation of the utilities sector
  • social and environmental policies in public procurement
  • innovation (including the innovation partnership procedure)
  • in-house and public-public arrangements

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

Corruption and Collusion in Public Procurement

This module examines the phenomena of corruption and collusion in public procurement and explores methods used in national and international systems to identify, prevent and sanction occurrences of these phenomena.

It covers, inter alia: the role and limits of transparency rules in addressing corruption; the revelation of corruption through investigations and audits; practical mechanisms to deter and redress corruption including criminal and administrative sanctions (such as debarment), codes of ethics and anti-corruption commissions; the role of rules against foreign bribery; and the role of competition law in dealing with supplier collusion.

Government Procurement in the WTO

This module examines the current rules regulating government procurement under the Agreements of the World Trade Organization, covering both the multilateral agreements (in particular GATT and GATS) and the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement. This includes the current coverage of the GPA rules; the approach to GPA negotiations; the obligations for covered procurement under the GPA in relation to tendering; the system of enforcement (intergovernmental enforcement and supplier challenge systems); and the impact of the GPA on use of procurement promote social objectives and sustainable development.

The module also explores the current initiatives for expanding the multilateral rules on procurement, notably the discussions relating to a new Transparency Agreement. The module will explore the relevant issues from the perspective of all types of countries, including developing countries and transition economies/countries with a large state sector.

Legal Research Methods in Public Procurement

This module examines the different methods relevant for research in public procurement regulation, including the objectives, benefits and limitations of each, and their inter-relationship. It provides an in-depth examination of doctrinal legal method and an introduction to other key research methods, including theoretical, comparative law, qualitative and quantitative. 

These various methods will be examined through studying general literature on research methods and through specific case studies of the use of the different methods in the context of research on public procurement regulation.

Optional modules

Organisation and Management of Procurement Systems

This module examines the key issues relating to the setting up and management of public procurement systems, including in the specific context of developing countries.

It covers basic institutional structures (such as whether to use centralised and decentralised approaches to tasks and institutions, and the nature of policy authorities); the development of systems, including preparation of laws, recording/reporting requirements, and management of information systems; implementation issues, such as bid documentation and use of benchmarking and performance; and development of human resource capacity.

Or

EU Procurement Law 3

This module examines the various specialist topics of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • the Defence and Security Directive 2009/81/EC
  • the Concessions Directive 2014/23
  • public-private partnerships in EU procurement Law (including institutional public-private partnerships (IPPs))
  • centralised procurement (including Central Purchasing Bodies)
  • collaborative procurement between EU Member States
  • competition law (including state aid) and procurement
  • the EU's Acquired Rights Directive
  • the EU's relations with third countries in public procurement

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented in UK legislation and case law.

Procurement and Development

This module examines issues relating to procurement and development. It divides into two major components, the role of procurement in the delivery of aid to developing countries and the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries. As to the role of procurement in the delivery of aid, the course examines the procurement procedures and policies of major multilateral, regional and national institutions. It covers the procurement procedures and policies of the development banks, in particular the World Bank and the regional development banks, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions.

The module also examines the procurement procedures and policies of the major bilateral aid institutions, though here it must necessarily be selective. As for the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries, the course explores the move towards reform of procurement systems, the role of the UNCITRAL Model Law, and problems associated with capacity building in developing countries.

Or

UK Public Procurement Law

This module examines in detail those aspects of UK procurement law that do not derive from the EU's procurement regime. In particular, the module will consider how the UK's general rules of constitutional and administrative law operate in the area of public procurement and may impact upon procurement practice.

The subjects covered include the impact of Freedom of Information law for disclosure of information; application and consequences in procurement of the ultra vires rule; local government powers relating to shared service and joint procurement; and judicial control of procurement awards through common law judicial review and the "Blackpool" implied contract governing tendering procedures.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 09 November 2020.

The PGCert programme is offered on a part-time basis, to be completed over 10-24 months (according to the modules chosen). This requires the completion of four modules. There is no dissertation.

Core modules

Introduction to Public Procurement Regulation: Basic Principles and Concepts

This module first examines basic concepts in procurement regulation, specifically the objectives of regulatory provisions (such as value for money, integrity, accountability, social development and procedural efficiency) and their relationship with each other, and the key principles of transparency and competition through which such objectives are implemented.

The module then considers how these objectives and principles are typically implemented and balanced in regulatory rules by reference to a study of the main rules of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement. This study will cover regulatory rules on: the scope of public procurement rules; procurement methods for goods, construction and services (including professional services); qualification and pre-qualification (including use of qualification lists); specifications; bid evaluation; conclusion of contracts; and supplier review (bid challenge/remedies).

The module will also provide an introduction to further issues, namely procurement of privately financed infrastructure; electronic communications and auctions; framework agreements; and horizontal policies (use of procurement to promote social, environmental and industrial development etc).

Optional modules

Choose three from:

Organisation and Management of Procurement Systems

This module examines the key issues relating to the setting up and management of public procurement systems, including in the specific context of developing countries.

It covers basic institutional structures (such as whether to use centralised and decentralised approaches to tasks and institutions, and the nature of policy authorities); the development of systems, including preparation of laws, recording/reporting requirements, and management of information systems; implementation issues, such as bid documentation and use of benchmarking and performance; and development of human resource capacity.

Or

EU Procurement Law 3

This module examines the various specialist topics of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • the Defence and Security Directive 2009/81/EC
  • the Concessions Directive 2014/23
  • public-private partnerships in EU procurement Law (including institutional public-private partnerships (IPPs))
  • centralised procurement (including Central Purchasing Bodies)
  • collaborative procurement between EU Member States
  • competition law (including state aid) and procurement
  • the EU's Acquired Rights Directive
  • the EU's relations with third countries in public procurement

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented in UK legislation and case law.

Procurement and Development

This module examines issues relating to procurement and development. It divides into two major components, the role of procurement in the delivery of aid to developing countries and the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries. As to the role of procurement in the delivery of aid, the course examines the procurement procedures and policies of major multilateral, regional and national institutions. It covers the procurement procedures and policies of the development banks, in particular the World Bank and the regional development banks, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions.

The module also examines the procurement procedures and policies of the major bilateral aid institutions, though here it must necessarily be selective. As for the characteristics of procurement systems in developing countries, the course explores the move towards reform of procurement systems, the role of the UNCITRAL Model Law, and problems associated with capacity building in developing countries.

Or

UK Public Procurement Law

This module examines in detail those aspects of UK procurement law that do not derive from the EU's procurement regime. In particular, the module will consider how the UK's general rules of constitutional and administrative law operate in the area of public procurement and may impact upon procurement practice.

The subjects covered include the impact of Freedom of Information law for disclosure of information; application and consequences in procurement of the ultra vires rule; local government powers relating to shared service and joint procurement; and judicial control of procurement awards through common law judicial review and the "Blackpool" implied contract governing tendering procedures.

EU Procurement Law 1

This module examines the basic rules and policies of the EU regime on public procurement and their implications for procurement strategy, and also provides a critical assessment of those rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers the purpose of the EU rules; the application of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to public procurement; the core rules contained in Directive 2014/24 and associated instruments - in particular the coverage of the directive, the detail of the main award procedures (open, restricted, competitive procedure with negotiation, and negotiated procedure without prior publication) and the rules on drafting specifications; changes to concluded contracts; and the remedies regime and the risks of legal challenge.

The module also examines the way in which the procedural rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

EU Procurement Law 2

This module examines various specific topics in EU public procurement, building on the foundations provided by the module EU Procurement Law 1, and provides a critical assessment of the relevant EU rules against the background of sound procurement practice.

It covers:

  • framework agreements
  • electronic procurement
  • regulation of the utilities sector
  • social and environmental policies in public procurement
  • innovation (including the innovation partnership procedure)
  • in-house and public-public arrangements

Where applicable, the module also examines the way in which these rules have been implemented and operated in UK legislation and case law.

Corruption and Collusion in Public Procurement

This module examines the phenomena of corruption and collusion in public procurement and explores methods used in national and international systems to identify, prevent and sanction occurrences of these phenomena.

It covers, inter alia: the role and limits of transparency rules in addressing corruption; the revelation of corruption through investigations and audits; practical mechanisms to deter and redress corruption including criminal and administrative sanctions (such as debarment), codes of ethics and anti-corruption commissions; the role of rules against foreign bribery; and the role of competition law in dealing with supplier collusion.

Government Procurement in the WTO

This module examines the current rules regulating government procurement under the Agreements of the World Trade Organization, covering both the multilateral agreements (in particular GATT and GATS) and the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement. This includes the current coverage of the GPA rules; the approach to GPA negotiations; the obligations for covered procurement under the GPA in relation to tendering; the system of enforcement (intergovernmental enforcement and supplier challenge systems); and the impact of the GPA on use of procurement promote social objectives and sustainable development.

The module also explores the current initiatives for expanding the multilateral rules on procurement, notably the discussions relating to a new Transparency Agreement. The module will explore the relevant issues from the perspective of all types of countries, including developing countries and transition economies/countries with a large state sector.

Legal Research Methods in Public Procurement

This module examines the different methods relevant for research in public procurement regulation, including the objectives, benefits and limitations of each, and their inter-relationship. It provides an in-depth examination of doctrinal legal method and an introduction to other key research methods, including theoretical, comparative law, qualitative and quantitative. 

These various methods will be examined through studying general literature on research methods and through specific case studies of the use of the different methods in the context of research on public procurement regulation.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 09 November 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Distance learning materials
  • Case studies
  • Self-assessment exercises
  • Self-study
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Guest speakers

Each module includes a two-day intensive teaching session, held at the University of Nottingham. This provides the opportunity to develop understanding through traditional face-to-face teaching (lectures, seminars and workshops). These will be delivered mainly by academic staff from the University of Nottingham, with a few sessions also presented by guest lecturers from professional practice and international institutions.

The intensive teaching sessions constitute an important element of the programme, helping to ensure it is of the same high quality as the school's full-time programmes. You are strongly encouraged to attend, although this is not mandatory for obtaining a qualification.

How you will be assessed

  • Assignments
  • Essay

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

LLM/PGDip/PGCert

Undergraduate degree2:1 or high 2:2
Additional information

Applicants with alternative academic backgrounds also considered where they have relevant work experience and/or professional qualifications such as a MCIPS.

Applying

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

Qualification LLM PGDip PGCert
Home / UK £11,440 £7,610 £3,780
International £11,440 £7,610 £3,780

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

The University also offers masters scholarships for international and EU students. Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding postgraduate study.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

Achieving this qualification demonstrates knowledge in this specialist field of public procurement regulation that is both high level and spreads across the whole field, as well as advanced skills in the law for those who have no prior legal training.

Most students are already working the field of public procurement, often in a very senior capacity, whether as lawyers (in-house or in private practice), procurement practitioners in the public/utility sectors, consultants, policymakers or (in a few cases) suppliers. For these students, the specialist knowledge and understanding of procurement law gained from the programme greatly enhances their ability to perform their roles.

Students have also used their qualification to move on to more senior roles in their current organisations or other organisations, as well as to move into new sectors - for example, from working in EU procurement law to working in development procurement, or from procurement practice to consultancy. Many students also report that their professional performance has benefited significantly from the contacts made during the programme with other high-level specialists across the field.

Some of our students are new to the field and have used the qualification gained to move into this rapidly growing field. A few have also taken the programme in order to obtain a comprehensive knowledge of public procurement regulation as a background to pursuing a PhD in the field, or have decided to undertake a PhD after completing their study.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" The programme surpassed my expectations. It broadened and deepened my understanding of the aspects of procurement law I thought I knew well. "
Caroline Nicholas, Senior Legal Officer, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, and Secretary, UNCITRAL Working Group I (Procurement)

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Monday 09 November 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.