Guide to Studying Law in the UK
Britain has a long legal history, with many legal systems in the world based on the one founded in the UK. For example, when India gained its independence, it maintained the British legal system. Even today, Indian law is still based on the principles of British law.
Upholding this proud tradition, British universities have an international reputation for excellent law courses and attract many overseas students who want to study law in the UK. But what should they expect?
What are the types of law degrees?
When you look at the law courses offered by British universities, you will see ones that lead to the LLB (Bachelor of Law), BA and BSc qualifications. LLB students will spend most, if not all, of their time studying law, whereas BA and BSc students will spend up to a third of their time studying other subjects.
Some courses award joint degrees such as Business and Law, or Criminology and Law. There are also sandwich courses that combine studying with work experience.
In order to pass a course, you will be assessed on both coursework and exam results.
What will I learn studying law in the UK?
A law degree will provide you with hands-on skills to practise the profession. As part of the course, you will take part in what are known as ‘moot trials’, which are mock trials in which students argue legal points.
You may study particular areas of law, such as family law, business and finance. After graduating, you may wish to specialise in a particular sector of the legal system.
You will also develop qualities like analytical thinking, problem solving, orating, negotiation, team working and law writing. Even if you don’t enter the legal profession, these skills are beneficial for a number of careers.
What’s the course structure?
Law courses consist of core subjects and optional modules. Core subjects include legal methods, the law in practice, constitutional and administrative law, the English legal process and contract law. Examples of optional modules are law and medicine, media law, internet law, international law, intellectual property and family law.
A standard degree course lasts three years, although some include an additional year of work experience with a legal firm. If you want to become a barrister or solicitor, you will require further training after you graduate.
What are the entry requirements?
Each university will specify their entry requirements to study law, and these vary between universities. It doesn’t begin and end with your exam results, because universities are interested in what type of person you are too. They will ask about why you want to study law, and will want to learn about your personal interests. Their admissions staff are looking for well-rounded individuals who are curious about the world. Studying law can be difficult, so you need to be motivated and show a keen interest.
Most law degree courses start in September, but you can apply several months before this.
After graduating with a law degree, there are a number of postgraduate opportunities available. Some postgraduate courses can be undertaken via distance learning, which is ideal for graduate students from overseas who cannot afford to further study in Britain.
If you want to practice as a solicitor, a Legal Practice Course will provide the necessary qualifications. To become a barrister, you will need to take the Bar Professional Training Course.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives programme is designed to train law graduates in specific areas of the law.
If you have a non-legal degree, you can take the Graduate Diploma in Law, which provides specialist legal training. If you are already practising law, consider a Master’s course such as the Master of Laws course.
To combine business and law, consider a joint MBA and law program.
Where should I study law in the UK?
The top UK universities to study law are Oxford and Cambridge, but competition for places at these two top universities is high. Other top universities ranked by scores from The Complete University Guide are:
- London School of Economics
- University College of London
- King's College London
How much does it cost?
Course fees can be up to £9,250 a year and the cost of living in the UK is around £12,000 a year. Many universities offer a limited number of scholarships for overseas students. These will cover all or part of the cost of studying for a law degree in the UK.
London is the most expensive area to live in in Britain, so if you want to lower costs, consider applying to a university outside of the capital.
Why are visas important?
If you live in a non-European Union country (apart from Switzerland), you will need a visa to study law in the UK. Most students will require a Tier 4 student visa. The university that has accepted you will hold a sponsor's licence to support your visa application.
You need to prove that you have a place on a full-time course, and show that you can financially support yourself during your stay in the UK. You will be required to submit your qualification documents, and may be invited to attend an interview and have your fingerprints digitally scanned.
After you have been accepted on a law course and obtained your student visa, it is a good idea to protect yourself by taking up G8way membership. Studying law in Britain is expensive, and unforeseen circumstances such as family illness or other crises could mean that you have to interrupt your studies and return home for a while. G8way membership protect you if you are unexpectedly unable to study for a while.
For a small sum, G8way membership will provide the peace of mind in knowing that your investment in your law course is protected.
What are my options after studying?
Law graduates can apply for jobs in private firms and in government legal agencies. To become a solicitor or barrister, you are required to take a postgraduate vocational course.
Law graduates develop a range of skills that are valued by non-legal firms, especially if you have studied at a top UK university.
Studying law in the UK is sure to be a rewarding and enriching experience, and can lead to an enjoyable and financially rewarding career.