Easiest way to get a Stem Degree please (required for patent exams)

(31 Posts)
reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 11:12:08

Hello mumsnet,
I'm a patent lawyer and because of the way things are going in our profession I want to convert to being a patent attorney. A STEM degree is a prerequisite for sitting the relevant patent attorney exams.

I need to carry on the day job and not blow the bank so I'm after something at the easier end of the scale (the later patent exams will be challenging enough!).

I have an A level in pure maths&statistics at grade A from 1988 and O levels in chemistry and biology.
In the 1990s I passed OU foundation-level courses in science and maths but these have now "expired". I could repeat them...

Truthfully I'm after something quick&dirty! Don't be cross please.
I'm obviously used to mastering scientific concepts from my career to date but you end up with a deep but narrow knowledge of something very advanced that you then brain-dump at the end of the case.

Thank you.

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WorknameJimEllis Sun 11-Jun-17 11:26:47


I'm qualified to answer this question only because I have 2 undergraduate and 1 postgraduate STEM degrees.

My advice is STEM subjects are a bloody slog. Pick one you actually like. It's the only way. It's just too hard, too much work to stick it out unless you actually start out with a real fascination for what you are going to learn.

Good luck. Stem degrees are ace.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 11:33:15

smile well done on those degrees!

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lieka Sun 11-Jun-17 11:51:31

I don't think there are "easy" ones. What are you interested in?

reallyanotherone Sun 11-Jun-17 11:59:14

If it has to work around the day job OU would probably be best?

As to the degree itself, i'd look at the course with the least lab work- so the majority can be done at home/night class.

So you're looking at the maths/physics/engineering side rather than the biology/chemistry. I's contact the ou and see if they can give you credit for your old courses.

Would a masters be acceptable? Or does it have to be an undergrad degree?

MarvinKMooney Sun 11-Jun-17 12:00:03

Do you have am undergraduate degree, and in what area? Would a one year masters course fulfil the STEM requirement?

I work in admissions for Computer Science. Most of our taught masters degrees require computer science at first degree level, but we do offer one as a 'conversion' masters where any degree is accepted. A masters would probably be the cheapest way of doing it too.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 13:59:52

"As to the degree itself, i'd look at the course with the least lab work- so the majority can be done at home/night class. "

Ah yes good point. Thank you.

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reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 14:01:39

Ooh that's a good idea about masters. Would you be kind enough to pm me the details of that course?

I have degrees in Eng lit with Russian and post grad qualifications in law.

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Haffdonga Sun 11-Jun-17 14:17:23

Conversion course plus something like this?


Can I ask you a cheeky question from the opposite side of the campus? DS is currently doing a STEM masters and is very interested in getting into patent law in the future. Would a law conversion GDL atop his masters be a route? He's a bit pessimistic at the moment saying unless he's Oxbridge (he's not) he wouldn't stand a chance.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 14:57:50


patent law is booming and also relatively future-proof. However, he needs to know, and to know now, that as a lawyer, patent law is a shrinking profession. It would be naive of him to become a solicitor thinking he would go into patent law unless he can get into one of about 20 firms. This is because patent attorneys no longer refer the cases to us - they decided about 15 years ago to make a concerted effort to keep the work and this has largely been successful. This is why I am switching - I can use the same skills but earn more just by using a different job title.

I suggest you and he scour linkedin for the profiles of trainee patent attorneys - from these, you will see their routes to qualification. I was looking at one today - it was something like a biology degree plus masters then a few years in the wilderness as a "patent drafter" (read dogsbody) before finally managing to get into the training system proper.

happy to answer any further questions. patent law is the most interesting type of law you can do. You are constantly dealing with genuine achievements.

I was just looking today at the linkedin profile of a trainee patent attorney. I

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reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 14:58:35

sorry, failed to edit out the last line!

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robinia Sun 11-Jun-17 15:02:00

Computing/IT is stem and doesn't need lab work. Would that suffice or do you need something more practical?

Haffdonga Sun 11-Jun-17 15:05:41

Extremely helpful.Thank you so much Reawakening

Good luck with your plans.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 15:34:04

I think computing/IT would be best, yes.

also the kind of thinking you do is similar to the thinking in law I think (having worked alongside these folk for many years)

any pointers robinia?

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7461Mary18 Sun 11-Jun-17 16:43:19

Could you not just be hired by patent attorneys as a solicitor? I suppose that means you can't then be in their partnership?
I do a lot of IP law (solicitor) but obviously steer clear of stuff like drafting patents as I don't have a science degree. I think you need the science degree to understand the technology in order to write the specifications etc.

Are you sure you absolutely have to have a science degree?
This link www.cipa.org.uk/need-advice/how-to-become-a-patent-attorney/ suggests if you want a firm to hire you you will but it does not sound like it is an absolute legal requirement so perhaps your current law firm could let you take the Patent Examination Board exams, However if ultimately you want to write patents etc then I suppose you need the science degree and knowledge to do it unless you would set up your own firm and employ patent attorneys to do that.

WorknameJimEllis Sun 11-Jun-17 16:51:26

Thanks smile

And yes to what pp said about lab work.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 17:00:06

Mary -

younger patent attorneys no longer pass on the pat lit work even though (not to put too fine a point on it) we are better at it. They all take their pat lit qualification.

I have a friend who is a solicitor partner in a patent attorney firm and even he struggles to get the pat lit work off them!

good to hear if that isn't your experience.

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QueenMortifauxcado Sun 11-Jun-17 17:04:10

Have a look at the ou masters in computing, particularly the information security and forensics modules. The first one is mostly british standards and the forensics is apparently quite legislation heavy.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 17:05:54

thanks Queen

Mary, I should have said thank you yes I could be hired by a firm of pat. attorneys and would be interested in that but I'm used to being my own boss.....

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7461Mary18 Sun 11-Jun-17 17:40:39

I don't do patent litigation so not able to comment on that. Good luck with it.
If you work for yourself then do check what exactly the degree qualifications are when I looked (only a 2 second look) it seemed firms of patent attorneys prefer a science degree but I do not know if that is a legal requirement before you can take the PEB exams.

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 18:47:51

Will do Mary, thank you.

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bridgetreilly Sun 11-Jun-17 18:55:30

If you're in or near London, take a look at Birkbeck?

MarvinKMooney Sun 11-Jun-17 19:26:00

Hi reawakening. I've sent you a PM with details of the course at the university I work at. Haven't posted it here as it will out me 😀.

Also take a look at findamasters.com and prospects.ac.uk to narrow down courses that might be of interest to you.

As I mentioned up thread, many pg courses in IT/computing will require a first degree in a similar field but there are equally as many that don't.

As you're a linguistic, your skills should stand you in good stead for programming etc - transferrable skills and all that!

reawakeningambition Sun 11-Jun-17 20:06:10


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robinia Sun 11-Jun-17 23:42:23

I'm doing BSc Computing/IT with the OU. Not cheap but enjoying it. Is there anything specific you want to know?

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