There’s more to a University than where your friends are going. Here we look at the criteria to consider when choosing where to study a law degree.
Choosing a university to study law can be daunting. League tables, programmes offered and grade requirements are all factors you will need to take into consideration. You are essentially choosing where you will live, study and socialise for the next three to four years so it is not a decision to be made lightly. Be that as it may, choosing to study law, at some level or another, opens an abundance of doors and is the beginning of an exciting chapter in your life, undoubtedly.
As well as reading our advice on this below, take a look at our profiles for the universities offering Law courses in the UK here.
The Course itself: straight LLB or Law with an additional subject?
The primary question to be decided by all prospective law students is whether to study law at undergraduate level or to do a non-law subject and then undertake a law conversion course. The best advice I can offer in this regard is that it is entirely up to you. It depends solely on your interests and academic ability at the time. Nevertheless, both options offer a variety of advantages and disadvantages.
Nearly 50 per cent of trainees now come from a non- law background. Therefore, it shouldn’t disadvantage you choosing to study a different subject at undergraduate level. Undertaking a non- law subject at undergraduate level will allow you to develop a variety of skills and keep your career options open in the future should you choose not to practice. Furthermore, it is advisable to engage in an academic subject at undergraduate level if you have a particular interest in it or are particularly good at it. The downside is that it is significantly more expensive. Diving in head first into a law degree is subsequently the cheaper option and will allow you to enter into the legal market faster. However, you may not have the breadth of life experience as those who have chosen to study a non-law subject at undergraduate level.
It is vital to ascertain whether your dream university offers a law degree or not. Furthermore, that it is a recognisable and qualifying one at that. Whilst this may seem an obvious point, time and time again individuals have aspired to go to one particular university only to have their hopes dashed on the realisation that they don’t offer an LLB programme. Having concluded when to commence your law degree it is time to ask yourself whether you will study straight law or law with an additional subject e.g. law with a language or law with politics. Additionally, choosing to study law with an additional subject can narrow the scope of universities that offer your desired programme. Nonetheless, studying law with a language can offer a variety of benefits while also proving beneficial if you aspire to work in an international firm. Languages related to the emerging markets appear to offer the greatest asset including, Arabic, Russian and Spanish.
International Opportunities: Erasmus or options to train professionally abroad?
Whether you wish to study abroad during your degree is again a very individual decision but one which you must consider before choosing your university. Law is gradually becoming an international industry so spending time studying or training professionally abroad can prove invaluable.
Universities may have a year abroad built into the degree, for example, those who study law with French are often required to spend a year studying law in France.
Nearly all universities take part in the Erasmus scheme so it is advisable to consider the Erasmus opportunities offered to law students in your prospective university. However, places can substantially limited and more often than not they require a rigorous application form and interview proceedings so while it is important to consider it is not advisable to pick your university solely on the basis on obtaining a place on one of their international programmes.
Is it a ‘Good University? – The Russell Group
Law is, and always has been, a competitive industry. With 1,000s of law students graduating every year it is not surprising that the quality and rank of your university is an important point to consider.
A primary source for discerning one university to the next is the university league tables. The Times, The Guardian and The Independent annually publish a set of tables that rank the universities based on a range of criteria including teaching excellence and employability ratings. Therefore, they are worth a point of consideration.
The term ‘Russell Group’ undoubtedly echoes in the ears of any prospective law student. They are the 24 leading UK universities and are often deemed ‘the best of the best’. A degree from one of these universities, including Queens University, Belfast and Kings College London arguably puts you in more of an advantageous position over those studying in other recognised universities. Nonetheless, this is not to say that those who study elsewhere in other highly recognised and respected universities will not succeed accordingly. They have and they will continue to do so.
Open Days: A must?
Attending open days is essential. This first-hand experience is vital in order for you to get a feel for the University, the way in which they operate and to judge how you would settle in in the surrounding area. It is ideal if you could draft a few questions to ask current students who will be more than ready to chat. It is also advisable to talk to tutors or course directors, they are there to answer any queries you may have so the more you can engage the better.
Picking your University is really the beginning of your lengthy and enjoyable law career so taking the time to really weigh up your options and attend open days is an investment which will indisputably pay off!