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Study Law, why & how to study

The study of Law will give you a broad and thorough understanding into the legal systems on which much of our daily life is based.

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CONTENTS

  1. What’s Law?

  2. What Law degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Law degree?

  4. What topics does a Law degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Law?

  7. What do Law graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Law graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Law

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Law?

The law is a set of rules laid out by the government or social institutions. It aims to keep everyone safe, encourage people to act justly, settle disputes and punish those who don’t keep to it.

There are several different strands within the study of Law. Search for Law degrees, and you'll find LLB (Bachelor of Laws), BA, and BSc Law first-degree courses. LLB degrees focus on Law, while a BA or BSc programme may spend as much as a third of the time on modules outside of the main subject area.

You may study Law purely because you are interested in the process, and don’t intend to become a lawyer. Conversely, many would-be lawyers study for a degree in another subject and then take a postgraduate Law conversion course.

What Law degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in the subject of Law include those setting you on the path to a legal career, and degrees concerned with the wider area of legal standards, law enforcement and criminal behaviour:

  • Accounting and Law BA
  • Business Management with Law BSc
  • Crime and Investigation BSc
  • Criminology with Law BSc
  • Law LLB/BA
  • Policing and Criminal Justice BSc

Degrees may offer a foundation year or foundation programme.

Many universities also offer sandwich courses with a professional placement or international exchange year. If a Law degree includes a placement, it can count towards the qualifying work experience required to become a solicitor in England.

What do you need to get onto a Law degree?

Typically, entry to an undergraduate Law degree requires between 96–165 UCAS points. Some courses may have lower or higher requirements, and not all unis base their offer on UCAS points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: A*AA–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–DMM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA– ABBB (Advanced Highers: AAA)
  • International Baccalaureate: 42–29

Good subjects to have studied include:

  • English, history, politics or other essay-based subjects at A Level (or equivalent)
  • General studies and related A Levels may not be accepted

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience or shadowing in a solicitor's firm, with a pro bono or legal charity, or at a court
  • Virtual learning programmes or internships
  • Visiting a court to see cases in action – you can also see videos of court cases via the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website
  • Building your business awareness by keeping abreast of the news for stories with legal implications
  • Further reading – check uni websites for suggested preparatory reading
  • Knowledge of the career and developments from the websites of regulators, Law societies, and legal news sites
  • Honing your skills in reasoning and argument by entering essay prizes or the Bar Mock Trial competition, or joining a debating society or group
  • Summer schools, if eligible, such as UNIQ or Sutton Trust

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Some degrees require a pass in the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) or their own admissions test
  • Interview

What topics does a Law degree cover?

If you plan on a legal career, your Law degree must include modules on the seven 'foundations' of legal knowledge:

  • Contract law
  • Tort law
  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional/administrative law
  • Land/property law
  • Equity/trusts law
  • European Union law (this will continue to be a foundation subject for the foreseeable future)

Students aiming to practice law in Northern Ireland must also pass a module on the law of evidence, which can be taken separately if required. To practise law in Scotland, students must complete a degree in Scots Law, or a joint degree in Scots and English Law.

All Law degrees will also include a module on legal skills and methods. Optional modules might include:

  • Law and medicine
  • Media law
  • Internet law
  • Public international law
  • Family law
  • Intellectual property law

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module.

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Exams (including seen, pre-release and open book exams)
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • A dissertation is usually a final year option

Why study Law?

The quality of education at law schools in the UK is highly attractive, resulting in many students coming to study from overseas. A diverse cohort will expose you to different cultures and give you an international network that may prove useful later in life. You’ll also gain skills that will benefit you in any future career.

Career-specific skills:

  • Skills in legal practice including mooting (a mock legal hearing where you argue points of law) and pro bono work
  • Depending on the course, knowledge of law in specific areas such as family, commerce or finance
  • Legal methods in research and drafting formal documents

Transferable skills:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Good oral communication
  • Interpretation and explanation of complex subjects
  • Negotiation
  • Persuasive communication
  • Practical problem solving
  • Research
  • Strong reasoning skills
  • Team working

Professional accreditation:

  • In Scotland, Scots Law degrees are accredited by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates
  • For Northern Ireland, degrees must be approved by the Council of Legal Education (NI); recognised degrees are listed on the website of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS)
  • In England and Wales, from September 2021, university Law degrees no longer require approval by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) or Bar Standards Board
  • Some Law degrees may also include the option to complete a Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice, accredited by the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP)

What do Law graduates earn?

Law graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £18,000–£22,000.

Law is a lucrative but competitive career to enter. If you specialise in intellectual property rights and train to become a trade mark attorney, a trainee’s salary could start at £26,000. Once you qualify you could expect pay of around £45,000 and within four years, your income could reach £82,000.

The government also has a legal trainee scheme – you’ll benefit from a salary and have your fees for legal courses paid. Salaries for trainees depend on your location and department, ranging from £29,000–£37,000 in the first year and £33,000–£40,000 in the second. As a legal adviser for the Competition & Markets Authority, you could be paid £53,500–£60,600.

What jobs can you get as a Law graduate?

The obvious route for a Law degree is to become a solicitor or barrister (advocate in Scotland), which will require further vocational training. A Law degree is also considered highly among other professions, including academia, media, business, politics and banking.

Most qualified lawyers work in private practice, while others may join in-house legal departments, the Government Legal Service, or Crown Prosecution Service.

  • Advocate or barrister
  • Chartered accountant
  • Chartered legal executive
  • Company secretary
  • Coroner
  • Court legal adviser
  • Crown prosecutor
  • Family mediator
  • In-house solicitor
  • Lecturer
  • Licensed conveyancer
  • Management consultant
  • Member of parliament (MP)
  • Paralegal
  • Public affairs consultant
  • Queen’s Counsel (QC)
  • Solicitor
  • Trade mark attorney

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Law graduates require further vocational training to become a solicitor or barrister, which could include a postgraduate diploma or a master’s degree. Alternatively, in England, you could complete a graduate fast track diploma with CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) to qualify as a chartered legal executive, specialising in a specific area of the law.

If you have a degree in a different subject than Law, you can take a Law conversion course or a graduate-entry qualifying Law degree.

Practising lawyers can take postgraduate qualifications to specialise. Joint MBA and Law programmes are also available, both in the UK and overseas.

Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Criminal Justice Policy MSc
  • Human Rights MA
  • Intellectual Property Law and Practice PGDip
  • Law MPhil/DPhil/PhD
  • Legal Practice LLM (SQE 1&2)

Similar subjects to Law

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

If you have questions about studying Law, you can email our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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