If you decide to move to the United Kingdom in order to study law, your path may be slightly different to that of the average UK law student’s. The Student Lawyer breaks down the things you need to consider before making the decision to study law in the UK.
Why study law in the United Kingdom?
Firstly, you might wonder what the United Kingdom has to uniquely offer in terms of university legal education that your native country does not.
Many of the UK’s law schools are among the most highly ranked law schools in the world. For instance, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge rank second and third in the world, respectively. Other law schools which make it into the top 50 global rankings are the London School of Economics and Politics (7th), University College London (15th), King’s College London (19th), the University of Edinburgh (29th), and Durham University (48th). (Source: QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 – Law). We also have a guide on what to look for when choosing a university to study law.
Relatedly, the level of expertise of lecturers and professors of law within the UK is extremely high. So too is the diversity of that expertise. Whether you are interested in human rights law, commercial transactions, intellectual property law, administrative law, or something completely different, it is almost guaranteed that there is a course of study available within the UK that will cater to your interests.
If your long-term career goal is to practice law in the UK as a solicitor or barrister, the route toward qualification is much shorter with a UK law degree. If you complete your undergraduate legal studies at a university in your home country, you may then need to complete a conversion course before you can commence legal training. Further information about this can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website (solicitors) and the Bar Standards Board website (barristers).
Even if your long-term plan is not to qualify or practice within the UK, a degree from a UK institution is still very much worth considering. With globalisation, the world (including the legal world) has become much more interconnected and English has emerged as the main language of communication. A degree from the United Kingdom confirms your language competencies and provides you with an international work passport which allows you to communicate with and on behalf of clients, regardless of where they are located.
Furthermore, the legal qualification with which you will be awarded at the end of the course will be recognised and respected throughout the world because all UK degrees meet strict academic standards.
It is worth taking into consideration that admission onto undergraduate law programmes is very competitive in the UK market. Therefore, it is important to take the time to familiarise yourself with the application process.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) is the organisation responsible for managing applications to universities and colleges in the UK. You make one central application online (www.ucas.com) to up to five courses at once.
Check out the TSL guide to writing your UCAS personal statement here.
You may also find this section of the UCAS website useful: http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/international.
English Language Competency
The standard of English required of applicants varies across universities and colleges. Universities will advise all prospective students what standard of English is required for their courses. You may be required to demonstrate proficiency in English or to take an approved English language test.
You should visit the relevant university or college’s website, or contact its admissions or international office to find out what the specific requirements are.
You can also find out more at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests.
Studying in the UK can be cheaper than in studying in other countries, mostly due to the fact that a lot of courses can be completed within three years.
Tuition fees vary across third level institutions, so it is important that you check the websites of the universities you wish to apply to. You may find it worthwhile to contact the universities’ international offices to ask if there are any scholarship opportunities available for international students.
The cost of living varies depending on the city/area you choose to live and study in. You may find this international student calculator useful in gauging how much your studies may cost: http://international.studentcalculator.org/
If the idea of spending two to three years studying in another country seems too daunting to you, why not instead consider spending a year or semester studying in the UK as an Erasmus student?
Another alternative is to complete your undergraduate studies at a university within your home country and then undertake an LLM (masters in law) at a UK university.
A Final Word
Universities within the UK are diverse, multicultural and welcoming environments, and many international students choose to study in the UK each year as a result. Within the UK there is a mix of cosmopolitan cities and rural villages, which are connected to each other with strong transport links and punctuated by historical and modern architecture. Every city has at least one university, so there are many destinations to choose from as well as many sites to visit and things to experience.
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