Study Law In The UK – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

This guide offers a comprehensive overview of key legal concepts, areas of specialisation, and the intricate world of the legal system. Whether you’re a prospective law student or simply intrigued by the complexities of justice, this guide provides a solid foundation to delve into the subject. Equip yourself with vital knowledge and the ability to navigate legal principles and their real-world applications.


Table of Contents

What is Law?

Law is a complex and multifaceted field that encompasses rules, regulations, and principles that govern human behavior and interactions in society. It serves as a framework for maintaining order, resolving disputes, protecting individual rights, and promoting justice. Here are key aspects of what law entails:

  1. Rules and Regulations: At its core, law consists of a set of rules and regulations established by a governing authority, whether it’s a government, legislature, or legal system. These rules dictate what is permitted, prohibited, or required within a given jurisdiction.

  2. Social Order: Law plays a crucial role in maintaining social order. It defines acceptable behaviours, regulates interactions between individuals and institutions, and establishes consequences for those who violate these rules.

  3. Justice: Law seeks to achieve justice by providing a framework for resolving disputes, punishing wrongdoers, and protecting the rights of individuals and groups. It aims to ensure that people are treated fairly and equitably.

  4. Enforcement: Laws are enforced by government authorities and legal institutions, such as the police, courts, and regulatory agencies. Enforcement mechanisms are in place to ensure compliance with the law and address violations.

  5. Legal System: The legal system comprises various components, including legislation (statutory law), common law, administrative law, and constitutional law. It also involves legal professionals like lawyers, judges, and legal scholars.

  6. Civil and Criminal Law: The legal system typically distinguishes between civil and criminal law. Civil law deals with disputes between individuals or entities, while criminal law addresses offences against the state, with potential criminal penalties.

  7. Rights and Responsibilities: Law defines the rights and responsibilities of individuals and entities within society. It outlines fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, and property rights, while also specifying obligations, like tax payments and contractual agreements.

  8. Legal Documentation: Legal documents, such as contracts, wills, deeds, and legal pleadings, are essential components of law. These documents help to formalise agreements, transfer property, and establish legal rights and obligations.

  9. Legislation and Precedent: Laws can be created through legislation, where elected representatives pass statutes, or through judicial precedent, where decisions in previous court cases become legal standards for future cases.

  10. International Law: International law governs relations between nations and international organisations, addressing issues like diplomacy, trade, human rights, and armed conflict.

Why Study Law?

Studying law offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities, making it an attractive field of study for many individuals. Here are some compelling reasons to consider studying law:

  1. Intellectual Challenge: Law is intellectually demanding, requiring critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to analyse complex legal issues. It challenges your mind and helps develop strong analytical skills.

  2. Influence and Change: Lawyers have the opportunity to make a significant impact on society by advocating for change, protecting individual rights, and promoting justice. Law can be a powerful tool for social reform.

  3. Financial Reward: Legal careers often come with competitive salaries, especially for those in high-demand fields like corporate law, intellectual property law, and international law.

  4. Problem-Solving Skills: Law school teaches you how to approach complex problems, analyse evidence, and construct persuasive arguments. These skills are valuable in many aspects of life and work.

  5. Global Perspective: Legal systems vary around the world, and studying law can provide you with a global perspective, which is particularly beneficial in today’s interconnected world.

  6. Advocacy Skills: Law school hones your advocacy skills, making you a more effective communicator and negotiator. This can benefit your personal and professional interactions.

  7. Social Justice: Many individuals pursue law to advocate for social justice causes, working to protect the rights of marginalised groups, combat discrimination, and promote equality.

Best Universities for Law in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Oxford2063.3598.89277100
2University of Cambridge2043.3699.4858399.7
3UCL (University College London)2003.833.62100898297.7
4London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London2023.693.39100857795.9
5King's College London, University of London2053.93.396.6887695.6
6Durham University1903.773.3898.8808194.5
7University of Glasgow2213.863.4997.9838394.1
8University of Bristol1863.623.5198.4817793.6
9University of Warwick1653.883.4198.9827893
10Queen's University Belfast1663.473.4197.6878692.5
11University of Leeds1623.723.599.5797692.3
12University of York1613.973.297.6817791.8
13University of Manchester1673.643.0997.6868091.7
14The University of Edinburgh2183.573.4297.7787891.7
15Queen Mary University of London1793.773.3497.3727591.5
16Cardiff University1553.633.3497.9828491.4
17University of Strathclyde21343.1397.2728391.3
18University of Nottingham1723.763.2898708191.3
19University of Aberdeen2033.993.0897.8778191.3
20University of Exeter1623.83.2495.8828191.1
21University of Southampton1523.853.1597.5848091
22University of Birmingham1553.73.498.5747490.2
23University of Sheffield1553.613.3496.5748489.8
24Lancaster University1514.113.1597.1766789.7
25Newcastle University1583.693.0595.4827889.5
26University of Kent1373.833.5397737388.8
27University of Liverpool1513.433.2697.8767388.6
28University of East Anglia UEA1373.742.8698.3758588.4
29University of Dundee1883.962.7596.9727388.1
30Aston University, Birmingham1344.023.1196.9697988
31University of Sussex1313.683.1198.5728388
32SOAS University of London1413.483.4596.7757187.7
33University of Leicester1363.842.8799.1737187.7
34University of Stirling2043.893.0497.2675687.3
35Nottingham Trent University1193.953.3497727086.9
36Ulster University1314.023.2890.1778386.8
37Northumbria University, Newcastle1373.652.992.9848086.6
38University of Bradford1263.912.8995.9806886.1
39University of Reading1273.662.9297.1767086
40Bournemouth University1143.882.5994.1888385.8
41University of Surrey1303.92.8694.1737185.4
42Swansea University1314.052.8796.4616985.3
43Bangor University1264.022.8395.9627485
44Glasgow Caledonian University2154.012.6794.8576484.7
45University of Essex1223.773.3192.3687384.4
46Edinburgh Napier University1724.262.1594746884.1
47Oxford Brookes University1123.622.8695.6727783.9
48University of Plymouth1263.882.994617383.9
49Brunel University London1233.432.8397.3667083.7
50University of Portsmouth1243.962.5493.3756783.6
51Keele University1193.712.7695.2696983.5
52Aberystwyth University1353.532.6296627083.4
53University of Westminster, London1143.782.7595.9706783.1
54University of Lincoln1193.872.8594.8606582.8
55University of Brighton1063.922.7392.2718382.6
56Edge Hill University1263.932.9492.1606782.4
57Manchester Metropolitan University1243.833.0793.7626382.3
58University of Chichester1154.2710082.2
59University of South Wales1273.892.989.2618182
60City, University of London1303.62.8995.6536882
61Kingston University1073.832.7294.3657182
62University of Hull1223.862.9292.4576682
63University of Chester1243.942.2594.4577481.8
64University of Greenwich1163.552.7994.4646981.4
65Bristol, University of the West of England1143.583.1294.2636581.2
66Glyndwr University, Wrexham1394.2393.181.1
67Liverpool John Moores University1263.892.1893.8636580.9
68University of Salford1213.692.6295.1596380.6
69Leeds Beckett University1223.752.2294.5607080.4
70University of Sunderland1124.0888.9878180.4
71University of Hertfordshire1113.962.9392.7575880.4
72St Mary's University, Twickenham1073.852.1793.5656680.1
73University of Derby1163.712.5993.2596580
74University of Roehampton983.992.9494.2506079.9
75London Metropolitan University1044.262.685.4647779.9
76University of West London1084.3196597579.9
77Birmingham City University1233.762.2893.7616379.8
78Solent University (Southampton)1154.1192.5766779.8
79Sheffield Hallam University1163.762.7592.5566679.7
80Royal Holloway, University of London1383.7792726179.3
81University of Huddersfield1213.562.190.7647779.3
82University of Worcester1174.142.3989.2586379.3
83Robert Gordon University1573.9194686979.2
84Coventry University1163.822.8888.7586779
85University of Central Lancashire1233.922.3490.2596278.8
86University of Winchester1183.632.0589.1647178.6
87De Montfort University1053.852.1294.2615978.4
88Teesside University, Middlesbrough1164.032.685.4567678.4
89Leeds Trinity University1094.194.678.3
90Anglia Ruskin University1063.852.2789.3676578.2
91London South Bank University1063.782.7792.6476178.1
92Cardiff Metropolitan University1264.0790.678
93University of Gloucestershire1053.842.1790.9527477.9
94Middlesex University1043.662.5490.2625977.9
95Abertay University1533.931.8387.9587377.9
96Goldsmiths, University of London1344.5184.877.7
97University of Wolverhampton974.242.7588515576.7
98University of East London1013.512.5189.9625676.3
99Canterbury Christ Church University1033.692.490.6516076.2
100University of Bedfordshire1103.983.28676.1
101University of Buckingham1254.191.7475776
102York St John University1033.8696.24575.6
103University of Northampton1043.6290.5657075.6
104Staffordshire University1003.372.5589.5486175.1
105Liverpool Hope University1103.272.4891.1455575
106University of Cumbria1244.3492.6334974.5
107University of the West of Scotland1393.9786.373.4
108Buckinghamshire New University983.6491484871.6
109University of Bolton1004.221.5176.5646070.9

Entry Requirements for a Law Degree

Entry requirements for a law degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme you are applying to. However, there are some general guidelines and common requirements that apply to most law degree programmes. Here are the typical entry requirements for an undergraduate law degree (LLB) in the UK:

  1. Academic Qualifications: You will generally need to have completed your secondary education, often with qualifications such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), or an equivalent qualification.

  2. A-Level Qualifications: Most law schools require specific A-level subjects, typically including at least one in the humanities or social sciences. Subjects like Law, History, English Literature, or Sociology are commonly preferred. Some universities may specify minimum grades for these subjects.

  3. International Baccalaureate (IB): If you have completed the IB, you will need to meet specific IB diploma requirements, including Higher Level (HL) subjects in the humanities.

  4. Interview or Admissions Test: Some universities may require an interview or an admissions test, such as the LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law), as part of the application process. The LNAT is used by certain universities to assess your aptitude for law.

  5. English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you may be required to demonstrate your English language proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

Jobs for Law Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Solicitor: Solicitors provide legal advice, draft legal documents, and represent clients in various legal matters. They often work in law firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments.

  • Barrister: Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, representing clients in court, providing legal opinions, and advising solicitors. They typically work as independent practitioners or are employed by chambers.

  • Corporate Lawyer: Corporate lawyers work for businesses and corporations, providing legal advice on issues like mergers and acquisitions, contracts, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property.

  • Public Interest Lawyer: Public interest lawyers work for non-profit organisations, government agencies, or legal aid services to address issues such as human rights, environmental protection, and social justice.

  • Prosecutor: Prosecutors represent the government in criminal cases, bringing charges against individuals accused of breaking the law and presenting cases in court.

  • Defence Attorney: Defence attorneys represent individuals accused of crimes, ensuring their rights are protected and providing legal defence in court.

  • Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer: IP lawyers specialise in copyright, trademark, and patent law, protecting intellectual property rights for individuals and organisations.

  • Environmental Lawyer: Environmental lawyers address legal issues related to environmental protection, regulation, and sustainability.

  • Criminal Investigator: Some law graduates become criminal investigators, working for law enforcement agencies to gather evidence and solve crimes.

  • Legal Consultant: Legal consultants provide expert legal advice to businesses, organisations, or individuals on specific legal issues without representing them in court.

Salary for Law Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,600

Medium-skilled: £20,000

High-skilled: £23,000


Topics for Law Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Law and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Constitutional Law: Constitutional law explores the fundamental principles and provisions of a country’s constitution, examining issues such as the separation of powers, individual rights, and constitutional interpretation.

  2. Criminal Law and Justice: Research in this field delves into criminal law, criminal procedure, and the justice system, addressing topics like criminal defence, prosecution, and the role of juries.

  3. International Law: International law explores legal principles that govern relations between nations, addressing topics like international treaties, diplomacy, and the laws of war.

  4. Environmental Law: Environmental law research examines legal frameworks and regulations related to environmental protection, conservation, and sustainability, including issues like climate change and biodiversity.

  5. Health Law: This research addresses legal issues in healthcare, medical ethics, patient rights, and healthcare policy, including topics like medical malpractice and bioethics.

  6. Family Law: Research in family law covers legal issues related to family relationships, including divorce, child custody, adoption, and domestic violence.

  7. Intellectual Property Law: Intellectual property research examines copyright, trademark, and patent law, as well as issues related to innovation, creative works, and technology.

  8. Labor and Employment Law: Labor and employment law explores the legal aspects of employment relationships, workplace discrimination, labor unions, and employment contracts.

  9. Legal History: Legal history research delves into the historical development of legal systems, examining how laws have evolved over time and their impact on society.

University Applications For Law Courses

According to Law Society statistics, in 2021-22, there were 31,585 applications submitted for law programs at universities in the UK, of which 21,650 applicants were successfully accepted, resulting in a success rate of 68.5%.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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