With more than 100 institutions in the UK alone offering Law courses, choosing and ranking five universities for your UCAS application is no easy task. What’s more, each league table you consult will say slightly different things, depending upon the weight given to different factors (student satisfaction, research quality, etc.). Here we look at the Complete University Guide’s (CUG’s) 2017 table of Law Schools, with references to The Guardian’s and QS’s 2016/17 tables for comparison, to give you a good idea of the universities that the best and brightest should be aiming for.
The CUG and The Guardian are in agreement: the University of Cambridge comes out on top, with the best graduate prospects and exceptionally high entry standards (typically A*AA at A-Level for Law) and research quality.
In the words of the President of Cambridge Law Society: “The quality of teaching and the wealth of resources available to students makes the Law Tripos at Cambridge second to none. With weekly supervisions, you get the opportunity to debate the law with world experts who have usually written the textbook you use.”
The CUG and The Guardian both put the University of Oxford at number two, whilst it takes top spot in the QS table. Although it falls to 13th overall on student satisfaction, this makes it the best-ranked for this factor in the top 10. Roughly half of applicants for the Law (Jurisprudence) course are interviewed (48% in 2015), with 15% being successful in 2015. Oxford has the lowest standard entry requirements of the top five, asking for ‘only’ three As at A-Level.
Oxford Law Society’s Publicity Secretary says: “There is nothing quite like studying Jurisprudence at Oxford: simply having the privilege to study and learn in such a historic place with such a persistent history of academic achievement pushes its students to be the best they can be. The course itself remains virtually untouched from its introduction centuries ago, and the unique tutorial method, which enables students to learn from and debate with world renowned academics on a weekly basis, is unrivalled. ”
UCL’s standard entry requirements are A*AA at A-Level. This standard is matched by fellow Londoners LSE and KCL (along with Cambridge). In addition to the ordinary LLB degree, there are options to study the LLB in combination with French, German or Hispanic Law, as well as a Joint LLB/Juris Doctor (JD) with Columbia University and a Dual Degree in English and German Law with Universität zu Köln.
The President of UCL’s Law Society says: “UCL Laws is a diverse and vibrant family comprising students from 45 different countries. The Law Society holds, on average, one activity per day during the academic year and regularly hosts top judges, academics and lawyers around the world. It really does help that UCL is located in central London, where it is so convenient for the biggest names in the field to drop by to meet our students! For instance, our Senior Moot Finals was held at the Supreme Court and judged by Lord Justice Laws. Of course, while we work hard, we play even harder: our last Easter Ball was held at The Savoy and featured our very own live band.”
LSE boasts: “Government, Parliament, the business and financial institutions of the City, the Law Courts and the media are all on the School’s doorstep”, describing its learning environment as “stimulating, cosmopolitan and very much a part of the ‘real world’.” It also claims to have been the first university to teach banking law, taxation law, civil litigation, company law, labour law and family law.
KCL comes out on top for research quality according to the CUG’s measurements. It also markets itself as an attractive source of graduates for top employers: “The majority of our students choose to become solicitors in a wide range of firms including Magic Circle, US and other leading law firms and specialist niche firms. Some choose broader business roles such as financial analyst, management consultant or graduate trainee.”
The President of KCL’s Law Society says: “At King’s, we recognize the challenges of the 21st century but we remain optimistic about the future. Studying here means that you will meet students from every corner of the world, eager to contribute to the legal profession and excited about their careers.”
The LLB is a four-year course at Glasgow, with 60% of Law students taking the opportunity to spend all or part of their third year studying law in another country (from France to Singapore), or participating in a summer school or other academic activity abroad. Glasgow matches Oxford’s entry requirements: three As at A-Level.
Glasgow Law Society’s Media and Publicity Convenor says: “Located within Glasgow’s West end and often mistaken for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the beautiful, iconic buildings of the University of Glasgow are only one of the appealing qualities that the University has to offer. The Law School in particular, leaving behind a trail of admirable alumni, is privileged to rank well when it comes to employability – notwithstanding the many social activities that are on offer to you as well. It’s no wonder that the University of Glasgow’s Law School is one of the UK’s leading – What’s not to love?!”
Coming in at third overall for research quality (on the CUG’s table), the Research Excellence Framework 2014 rated 83% of this collegiate university’s research to be “internationally excellent” or “world-leading” (thus its research was ranked third best in the UK by this measure too). The Law School has recently expanded and relocated to purpose-built accommodation within the university’s flagship Palatine Centre.
Edinburgh markets itself in a similar manner to LSE: “It is only a few minutes walk to Parliament House, where the highest criminal and civil courts in Scotland sit, and to the local Sheriff and district court. Scotland’s Parliament building is also not far away. Edinburgh is a leading legal, political and financial centre within the UK.” As with Glasgow, the standard LLB course is taken over four years.
The President of Edinburgh’s Mooting Society says: “Nothing really beats studying in a place as beautiful and historic as Old College. The Law School at Edinburgh has a very special feel which, coupled with leading professors in Scots law, proximity to both the Sheriff Court and the courts on the Royal Mile and the ability to complete a comprehensive Diploma after your LLB which really prepares you for working life, means a very special period of study at one of the UK’s leading Law Schools.”
Based in the iconic Wills Memorial Building, the Law School at Bristol typically requires applicants for the LLB to achieve AAA at A-Level. There are a number of extra-curricular activities on offer, including working with the Law Clinic, participating in mooting, negotiation and mediation competitions, and attending events such as networking dinners. Baroness Hale, Justice of the Supreme Court and the university’s chancellor since 2004, will step down as chancellor at the end of 2016.
The President of Bristol’s Law Club says: “There’s a really great community in the Law School. From mooting competitions to Law Clinic or work shadowing to law balls, I’ve really enjoyed my first year here!”
With 91% of students studying for the LLB at Nottingham satisfied overall, student satisfaction is a real selling point for a university that also excels in terms of research and teaching quality.
We have profiles on each of the universities mentioned above (click on their names to see more), and our database of over 1oo institutions can be accessed by clicking here.
It should be noted that although Queen Mary, University of London misses out in the CUG’s top 10, The Guardian put it at joint 5th with UCL, while QS ranked it 7th in the UK.
Finally, UCAS applicants take note! Durham University, KCL, UCL and the Universities of Bristol, Glasgow, Nottingham and Oxford all require the LNAT.