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A guide to choosing the best A-Level subject combinations to study Law at University

24th July 23

Law remains one of the most popular undergraduate courses offered by UK Universities.

Many students choose to pursue a law degree because of the diverse range of career opportunities the subject can offer, and the status associated with a career in the legal profession. As a result, undergraduate law programs in the UK are highly regarded and attract a significant number of applicants each year.

In the UK, law degrees are typically referred to as LLB (Bachelor of Laws) degrees. These programs provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the legal system, principles, and practices. UK Law degrees generally take three years to complete for students who enter directly from Sixth Form. There are also options for students to pursue law as a second undergraduate degree or through conversion courses if they have already completed a different undergraduate degree.

DLD Students Walking Across Westminster Bridge In London With DLD College London In The Background
DLD Students across Westminster Bridge

What are the best A Level subjects to take for Law?

To prepare for studying law at a UK university, there are no specific A-Level subject requirements, as law degrees are typically open to students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. However, there are certain A-Level subjects that when taken can provide a strong foundation and develop skills that are beneficial for studying law. Here are some recommended A-Level subjects and courses that can help you prepare for a law degree:

  1. English: English Language and English Literature courses can enhance your reading comprehension, critical analysis, and writing skills, which are essential in legal studies.
  2. History: Studying history can help develop your analytical and research skills, as well as your understanding of the context and evolution of legal systems.
  3. Politics/Government: Courses in politics or government can provide insights into the structure and functioning of legal systems, constitutional law, and policy-making processes.
  4. Economics: Knowledge of economics can be beneficial for understanding areas such as commercial law, international law, and regulatory frameworks.
  5. Sociology: Sociology courses can improve your analytical and logical reasoning abilities, which are fundamental to legal argumentation and interpretation.
  6. Mathematics/Statistics: While not a requirement for law studies, A-Level study in mathematics and/or statistics can enhance your analytical and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in legal analysis.

Are there any additional admissions requirements for Law?

It’s important to note that while these subjects can provide a helpful background, they are not mandatory prerequisites for studying law. UK universities generally do not require specific subjects at A-level (or equivalent) for admission to law programs.

In addition to academic qualifications and personal statements, UK universities may require law applicants to take additional tests as part of the admissions process. Here are a few common tests used for law applicants:

  1. LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law): The LNAT is a widely used admissions test for law applicants in the UK. It assesses critical reasoning, comprehension, and written communication skills. The LNAT is designed to measure aptitude rather than legal knowledge and is used by many universities as a tool for evaluating applicants’ suitability for studying law.
  2. National Law Aptitude Test: The University of Cambridge requires law applicants to take the National Law Aptitude Test. This test assesses critical thinking, problem-solving, and legal reasoning skills. It consists of multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, and an essay component.
  3. Written Assignments/Examinations: Some universities require applicants to submit written assignments or sit examinations as part of the application process. These assignments/examinations assess candidates’ analytical and writing skills and may involve legal problem-solving or essay questions.

It is a good idea to research the specific entry requirements and recommendations of the universities you are interested in, as they may have their own preferences or suggestions for suitable preparatory courses. Additionally, engaging in extracurricular activities such as mooting, debating, or volunteering in legal organisations can also provide valuable experience and demonstrate your interest in the field of law.

Students Relaxing at DLD College London
Students Relaxing at DLD College London

What different types of Law can you study at university?

There are many different types of Law degrees available to study at UK universities. Here are some of the main types of Law courses to consider:

LLB (Bachelor of Laws): The LLB course is the most common type of law degree taught in the UK. LLB is a traditional undergraduate degree providing a comprehensive education in law. The LLB is usually taken as a three-year program, although some universities offer four-year programs with an additional year spent on a placement or studying at an overseas university.

BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Law: Some UK universities offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law, which combines the study of law with other humanities subjects. This course gives students a broader perspective on the legal system, and allows for greater flexibility in course selection.

Joint Honors Degrees: Many UK universities offer joint honors degrees that allow students to study law alongside another subject (wider than humanities). For example, you can pursue a joint degree in Law and Business, Law and Politics, Law and Criminology, or Law and languages. These courses offer interdisciplinary perspectives and are useful if you want to combine law with another subject.

LLB with a Year in Industry/Placement: LLB programs that include a year-long placement in a law firm or legal organisation can provide valuable practical experience and allow you to apply theoretical legal knowledge in a real-world setting.

Graduate LLB: If a student has already completed an undergraduate degree in a different subject, they can pursue a Graduate LLB course. This program is designed for graduates who want to transition into the field of law and typically takes two years to complete.

Conversion Courses: If you have a non-law undergraduate degree, you can take a conversion course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Professional Examination (CPE) to gain the necessary legal knowledge and skills to pursue a career in law. After completing the conversion course, students proceed to the next stage of legal training, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

What are the advantages of studying Law at university?

Some of the key benefits of studying law at university include;

Intellectual and Analytical Skills: Studying law helps to develop critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem-solving skills. By analysing case studies, statutes, and legal principles, law students learn to think logically and make well-reasoned arguments. These skills are valuable not only in the legal profession but transfer across to other fields.

Understanding the Legal System: Studying law provides a deep understanding of British and international legal systems, including their structure, processes, and principles. This knowledge can enable students to navigate legal issues effectively in their personal and professional lives.

Diverse Career Opportunities: A law degree opens up a wide range of career opportunities. While many law graduates choose to become solicitors or barristers, the legal profession offers  students many diverse career paths, such as working in corporate law, human rights, intellectual property, family law, criminal law, or international law. Additionally, a law degree equips students with transferable skills that are valued in various professions such asbusiness, politics, consultancy, and academia.

Professional Prestige and Financial Rewards: The legal profession is often associated with professional prestige and respect. Lawyers are seen as experts in their field with the potential to earn a lucrative income. However, it’s important to note that financial rewards and prestige can vary based on the area of law practiced and individual career choices.

Advocacy and Social Impact: Law plays a crucial role in advocating for justice and shaping society. Studying law can provide the skills and knowledge necessary to advocate for individuals or groups, promote social justice, and make a positive impact on our society. Law graduates often work on cases involving human rights, environmental issues, and public policy.

Lifelong Learning and Personal Development: Law is a constantly evolving field, and studying law at university is a foundation for lifelong learning. Law encourages continuous professional development and staying updated with legal developments. The study of law also fosters personal growth by promoting critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and an understanding of fairness and justice.

International Opportunities: Law is an international discipline, and studying law can provide students with opportunities to work globally. Many law firms and organisations operate internationally, and having a law degree can facilitate work in different jurisdictions or engagement with international legal issues.

King's College, University of Cambridge
King’s College, University of Cambridge

What are the best UK universities to study Law?

UK newspaper The Guardian has ranked the following universities as the top 10 institutions to study Law in the UK in its 2023 University Rankings:

  1. University of Cambridge
  2. University of Oxford
  3. London School of Economics and Political Sciences
  4. University College London
  5. University of Glasgow
  6. Durham University
  7. King’s College London
  8. University of Edinburgh
  9. Warwick University
  10. Queen Mary University of London

What careers can you pursue with a Law Degree?

Law studies develop skills that can be transferred to a wide range of industries and careers. Here are some of the most common careers and jobs undertaken by Law graduates;

Solicitor: Many law graduates choose to become solicitors, providing legal advice, drafting contracts, representing clients, and handling legal transactions. Solicitors can work in law firms, corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organisations.

Barrister: Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, representing clients in court, providing legal opinions, and advising solicitors. They are self-employed or work in chambers and often specialise in specific areas of law, such as criminal law, family law, or commercial law.

Legal Counsel: Law graduates can work as in-house legal counsel for corporations, providing legal advice, handling contracts, managing legal risks, and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations.

Legal Academia: After further study, law graduates can pursue careers in academia, becoming professors, lecturers, researchers, and teaching future generations of lawyers.

Public Sector and Government: Law graduates can work in government agencies, such as the judiciary, prosecution services, or regulatory bodies, where they interpret and enforce laws, prosecute cases, or develop and implement public policies.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): NGOs working in areas such as human rights, environmental advocacy, or international development often employ lawyers to research, advocate, and litigate on behalf of their causes.

Corporate Law: Many law graduates choose to specialise in corporate law and providing legal services to businesses. Lawyers can advise on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, intellectual property, contracts, and commercial disputes.

Legal Consultancy: Some law graduates choose to work in legal consultancy firms, offering specialised legal advice and solutions to clients in various industries.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Law graduates can specialise in mediation, arbitration, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, helping parties resolve conflicts outside of court.

Policy and Government Affairs: With their legal expertise, law graduates can work in policy research, analysis, and advocacy roles, influencing government policies, legislative reform, and social justice initiatives.

Postgraduate legal training

Postgraduate legal training refers to the additional education and training that law graduates undertake after completing their undergraduate law degree. It is a necessary step for students who wish to qualify as solicitors or barristers in the UK and typically involves the following components:

  1. Legal Practice Course (LPC): For aspiring solicitors, the LPC is a vocational course that focuses on developing practical legal skills necessary for legal practice. It covers areas such as contract law, property law, litigation, legal research, drafting legal documents, and client interviewing. The LPC also includes professional ethics and financial and business skills training. It is usually a one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme.
  2. Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC): For those pursuing a career as a barrister, the BPTC is a postgraduate course that provides practical training in advocacy, legal research, drafting, and opinion writing. The BPTC emphasizes courtroom skills and prepares students for the demands of the Bar. It typically involves a mix of practical exercises, advocacy training, and simulated court sessions.
  3. A Period of Practical Training/Practice: Following completion of the LPC or BPTC, aspiring solicitors and barristers must undergo a period of practical training. This involves working as a trainee solicitor (usually for two years) in a law firm or completing a pupillage (usually for one year) under the supervision of an experienced barrister. During this training period, you gain hands-on experience in legal practice, working on real cases and client matters.

It’s important to note that the postgraduate legal training requirements can vary based on jurisdiction and professional regulatory bodies. In addition to the LPC or BPTC, there may be other qualifications, exams, or assessments to complete for professional certification, such as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) introduced in 2021.

Students Working In The Library At DLD College London
Students Working In The Library At DLD College London

Top tips for students applying to study Law at university

If you are about to currently studying for your A-Levels or about to start A-Levels and planning to apply for law at university, here are some useful tips to get you started:

  1. Research universities and choose wisely: Take the time to thoroughly research different universities and their law programs. Consider factors such as reputation, course structure, faculty expertise, and available resources. Choose a university that aligns with your academic and career goals.
  2. Start early: Begin the application process well in advance, as it can be time-consuming. Give yourself enough time to research universities, prepare application materials, and meet deadlines.
  3. Focus on your own academic excellence: Law courses are some of the most competitive undergraduate programmes on offer at UK universities, so strive for strong academic performance. Work hard to achieve excellent grades, particularly in subjects that are relevant to law, or enable you to demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills.
  4. Develop transferable skills: Law schools value transferable skills such as critical thinking, research abilities, written and verbal communication, and problem-solving. Focus on activities or courses that help you develop and showcase these skills.
  5. Personal Statement: Your personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for law and showcase your strengths. Highlight relevant experiences, skills, and achievements. Be clear, concise, and focused, and explain why you are interested in studying law and how you have prepared for it.
  6. Gain relevant experience: Seek opportunities to gain practical experience related to law. This can include volunteering at legal organisations, shadowing professionals, participating in moot court or debating competitions, or gaining work experience at law firms. These experiences demonstrate your commitment and understanding of the legal field.
  7. Prepare for admissions tests: If required, prepare thoroughly for admissions tests such as the LNAT, Cambridge Law Test, or Oxford Law Test. Lots of test information and resources can be found online, so take time to familiarise yourself with the test format, practice sample questions, and develop your critical reasoning and written communication skills.
  8. Seek Guidance and Support: Seek advice from your teachers, career counsellors, and current law students to gain insights into the application process. They can provide valuable guidance, review your personal statement, and offer feedback.
  9. Attend university open days and law events: Attend university open days, law fairs, or events to get a feel for the campuses, meet faculty members, and ask questions. It can help you make an informed decision and demonstrates your interest in the particular university.
  10. Be yourself: Finally, be authentic in your application. Highlight the unique qualities, experiences, and motivations that make you an attractive candidate, and don’t lie on your application. University Admissions Tutors value diversity and honesty and want to understand what you can bring to their law program.

Remember, the application process for law is competitive, but with thorough preparation, a strong application, and a genuine passion for law, you can increase your chances of gaining admission to a high-quality British law program. Good luck!

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