A Guide to Applying for Law

Law is an ever-popular degree subject that involves the study of legal theory and how it is applied to real-life scenarios faced by legal professionals. Many Law students aspire to pursue a career as a solicitor, barrister, or paralegal, or apply the skills they learn to a career in a government, organisation or non-profit.

Law courses are some of the most competitive degree programmes in the UK and applicants are typically required to achieve high grades and submit applications that stand out to achieve a place at top universities. If you want to know more about how to do that, then you’re in the right place.

This guide includes what a Law degree actually involves, what the entry requirements are for top universities (including admissions tests and interviews), what you should include in your application, and top tips from The Profs’ Head of Consulting, Joseph Robbins.

The Profs’ admissions team are experts in helping students get into even the most competitive of courses. 90% of our undergraduate and postgraduate students get into their first or second choice university and our Oxbridge acceptance rate is more than three times higher than the average. If you need support, get in touch with our team today.

What is involved in a Law degree?

Law degree courses typically involve studying a range of topics that equip you with the core knowledge and skills you need to pursue a legal career. The specific modules you might cover will depend on the type of course you are studying (BA or LLB) and which university you are studying at. Some modules you might study include:

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • Civil law
  • Tort law
  • Administrative law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Contract law
  • Human rights law
  • Legal history

What is the difference between a BA in Law and an LLB?

As you will see below, different universities offer different types of Law degree, most commonly a BA or an LLB. Typically, a BA (Bachelor of Arts) is an academic degree with a focus on Law that does not necessarily qualify you to become a solicitor or barrister. This means you will likely still have to take the GDL (a common Law conversion course) in order to qualify.

An LLB (Bachelor of Laws) is a qualifying degree, meaning the course will follow a more set structure and will give you the qualification you need to become a solicitor or barrister. This is a general rule of thumb but it does have exceptions. Most notably, both BAs in Law at Oxford and Cambridge are qualifying degrees and do not require a conversion course.

Joe’s tip: BAs in Law can usually be taken as joint honours (for example a BA in Law and Spanish) while LLBs cannot. If you’re unsure whether you’d like to become a lawyer, or you’d simply like a bit more variety throughout your degree (such as the option to learn a language or study non-Law modules) then a BA can be a great option. It only takes one additional year to qualify to become a solicitor or barrister, so you can always change your mind once you’ve graduated.

Which courses are similar to Law?

There are no true substitutes for a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), as these degree programmes are designed to qualify you for a career as a solicitor or barrister. However, some subjects that may interlink with a BA in Law or provide a solid foundation for a Law conversion course include:

  • Subjects which look at crime and governance, such as Criminology and Cyber Security and Data Governance
  • Subjects which look at political systems and organisations, such as Politics and International Relations and Social Policy
  • Subjects which involve the study of society, such as Sociology and Economics
  • History
  • Philosophy

Joe’s tip: You can become a solicitor or barrister with an undergraduate degree in any subject – you’ll just need to take a Law conversion course (such as the Graduate Diploma in Law). If you’re not predicted to reach the typically high entry requirements for an LLB, then you might consider exploring other degree courses with the view to studying a Law conversion later on. Applying to other subjects or less competitive courses as ‘back ups’ will ultimately give yourself the best chance of an offer.

What are the entry requirements for Law?

Undergraduate and postgraduate Law courses are offered by almost all of the UK’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and LSE (all three of which are ranked in the top 10 in the world for the subject). However, the specific entry requirements differ between universities and it’s important to know what you are aiming for before applying.

Note that there is an earlier deadline for applying to Law courses at Oxford and Cambridge, which is the 15th October. All other Law applications must be submitted by the general UCAS deadline in January.

Undergraduate

Undergraduate Law courses are extremely competitive and entry requirements tend to be very high. Almost all of the UK’s top universities require applicants to have at least one A*. Some universities will also require applicants to sit an additional admissions test – the LNAT – and achieve a certain score in order to qualify for entry. Always check with the university you’re applying for directly to ensure that you know exactly what is required for entry.

The table below shows the top universities in the UK for Law – according to the QS World University Rankings (2021) – and the A level entry requirements for each. If you’re applying to university with alternative UK or international qualifications, make sure to check the course page for the equivalent entry requirements.

UK ranking University Entry Requirements (A levels)
1 Oxford AAA
2 Cambridge A*AA
3 London School of Economics (LSE) A*AA
4 University College London (UCL) A*AA
5 King’s College London A*AA
6 Edinburgh* A*AA-AAA
7 Queen Mary University of London A*AA
8 Durham A*AA
9 Glasgow* A*AA
10 Bristol A*AA or A*A*B

*Scottish universities offer specific Scots Law LLBs which allows students to qualify to study a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice and become a solicitor in Scotland. You cannot become a solicitor in Scotland without studying Scots Law.

Which universities require the LNAT?

The LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law) is the most common Law admissions test used by UK universities. It is not used by all universities but by some of the most competitive in order to differentiate between applicants. The universities that use the LNAT are:

  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • Glasgow
  • King’s College London
  • LSE
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • SOAS University of London
  • UCL

Please note that previously, Cambridge used its own test – the Cambridge Law Test – to assess its applicants, and this test took place on the same day as their interview. It has now switched to the LNAT, which applicants need to register for and take before the 15th October Oxbridge application deadline. If you need help preparing for the LNAT, get in touch with our team of expert LNAT tutors today.

Postgraduate

There are a range of postgraduate Law degrees and other postgraduate qualifications available to those wanting to become legal professionals. These include:

Degree/Qualification What is it? Entry requirements
Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (Scotland) The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is a mandatory one-year course that allows you to become a solicitor in Scotland. You must have received an LLB from an accredited Scottish provider to undertake the Diploma.
A full Law Master’s degree, such as the Master of Laws (LLM) An LLM is a Master’s course which usually allows you to study a specific branch of Law in more depth. You don’t need an LLM to practice law, but the advanced training and expertise it provides can make you more attractive to law firms.
Top universities that offer LLM courses include: Cambridge, LSE, UCL and KCL.
Most LLM courses require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in Law (LLB) or a postgraduate Law conversion course (such as a CPE or GDL).
Law conversion courses, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) Law conversion courses allow undergraduates from other disciplines to pursue a career in Law. The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), for instance, is a Law conversion course that effectively covers around 18 months worth of undergraduate Law study in one year. Most GDL providers will require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in any discipline with a minimum classification of a 2:2.
Professional training qualifications, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) Professional training qualifications allow you to specialise in one area of Law and follow that career path. For example, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) allows you to become a solicitor.* You’ll need to have an undergraduate degree in any discipline to sit the SQE.
To take the LPC you must have studied an undergraduate Law degree or have completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to convert an unrelated undergraduate degree.

*Note that eventually, the SQE is intended to replace other programmes like the Legal Practice Course (LPC), although there is a transition period lasting until 2032, during which you can still qualify to become a solicitor via these qualifications.

Does Oxford offer an LLM (Master of Laws) course?

Rather than a traditional Master of Laws (LLM) course, Oxford instead offers a world-renowned postgraduate Law course called the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL). This is a taught graduate course which has a significant amount of one-to-one support – more than a typical LLM offers – from its top academics. Oxford’s BCL is designed to serve “outstanding Law students from common Law backgrounds” and is incredibly competitive, with only the most outstanding students holding a top first-class degree in Law being accepted.

Which universities require an interview?

Undergraduate

Law is one of the most competitive subjects to study at university and so you are more likely to have to go through additional stages like an interview before securing an offer. It is important to prepare for any interviews thoroughly with someone who has knowledge of the process, such as a Profs Law tutor.

Most of the top UK universities for Law require applicants to attend an interview. These include:

  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • Essex
  • Glasgow
  • King’s College London
  • Lancaster*
  • LSE
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • SOAS University of London
  • UCL
  • York

*An interview is required if applicants are achieving borderline grades or are being considered for an unconditional offer.

What will you be asked in a Law interview?

Universities will use interviews to assess your aptitude for the type of skills necessary for a Law degree. Oxford says its interviewers will be testing students’ reasoning, critical thinking and analytical abilities through a variety of methods. For example, its Law interviews may include questions relating to topics of Law as well as more general intellectual puzzles that require logical analysis of a type similar to legal analysis.

Joe’s tip: Whilst interviews may involve discussing legal issues, your pre-existing knowledge of the law is not being assessed. For example, you may be given a legal extract to discuss – if so, the only legal knowledge the interviewers will be looking for is that which can be learnt from the extract.

Postgraduate

Most LLM (Master of Laws) courses require applicants to attend an interview. LLM interviews are very much like other postgraduate interviews in terms of their goal and the kind of questions you may be asked. As with all interviews, it’s important to research the course and university in advance and prepare with an expert to maximise your chances of success.

Some common questions you might be asked in an LLM include:

  • Why have you applied to this particular LLM course?
  • What are your academic/greatest strengths?
  • How will this course benefit you as a student and in your future career?
  • And more. Get in touch with our LLM tutors for more tailored advice on how to prepare for your LLM interview.

Joe’s tip: Postgraduate Law courses are extremely competitive at the top universities. When it comes to studying at postgraduate level, you are not limited to the number of courses you can apply for (unlike during the undergraduate application process) because you do not apply via UCAS, but directly to universities. Therefore, try not to be disheartened if you don’t get accepted the first time. You can apply to lots of universities as ‘back ups’ and, if you are set on one of the most competitive universities, you can always try again the following year!

What should you include in your undergraduate Law application?

Due to the competitiveness of Law degree courses, your A level grades (or equivalent) and performance in the LNAT and interviews (if required) will be key deciding factors in whether or not you are offered a place. However, there are many other things that can help to make your application stand out, such as:

  • Volunteering
    Volunteering shows that you are passionate and committed to contributing to wider society. The types of volunteering you can do vary greatly, but you might look at volunteering your skills for a local community project, working on a charity or governmental campaign, or mentoring young people.
  • Participation in relevant competitions, clubs or challenges
    Debating competitions, such as the Oxford Schools’ and Debating Matters competitions, help to demonstrate your ability to make sound and logical arguments – an important skill of successful lawyers.
  • Having a career plan
    If you are applying for an LLB or LLM, it’s expected that you will want to become a barrister or solicitor. But which area would you like to specialise in in particular? And what is your long-term goal? Universities want candidates who are going to easily get a job after university, and showing that you have a realistic plan (not necessarily one you must stick to!) and that you know your industry is a great way to demonstrate this.
  • Researching details about specific modules
    Each Law course is different and researching the modules on the course you’d like to study will help to show your commitment and diligence as a student. Choose two or three modules in particular and discuss what you would like to learn from them and how they will help you in your future career.
  • Work experience at a law firm or related company
    Gaining work experience at a relevant company shows that you are motivated and dedicated to your future career outside of a school setting. It also gives you real-life insights and experience into what a career as a barrister, solicitor or other legal professional might involve and which skills are important to succeed.

How can we help?

The Profs’ consultancy team have many years of experience advising students on how to get into some of the most competitive universities and degree programmes in the UK. More than 95% of our students get into their first or second choice university, and our Oxbridge acceptance rate stands at 55% – three times the national average. Our dedicated undergraduate and postgraduate admissions consultants help you at every stage of the application process, from choosing the right universities for you to preparing for admissions tests and interviews.

Our network of Law tutors can also help you get the A level grades required for entry and stay on top of your studies once you’re at university. Whatever support you need, we’ve got you covered – get in touch with our team today to start preparing.

FAQs

What is the University of Law?

The University of Law is a university dedicated to the study of Law and related legal subjects like Criminology and Cyber Security and Data Governance. It offers both undergraduate courses, including the ever-popular LLB (Bachelor of Laws), as well as postgraduate courses, including the LLM (Master of Laws) as well as more specialist courses.

The University of Law does not feature in many league tables (including the QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education and Shanghai Ranking) because their rankings exclude particularly small, specialist institutions. However, the university was named the best university in England for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020 (NSS).

What is the difference between a BA in Law and an LLB?

As you will see below, different universities offer different types of Law degree, most commonly a BA or an LLB. Typically, a BA (Bachelor of Arts) is an academic degree with a focus on Law that does not necessarily qualify you to become a solicitor or barrister. This means you will likely still have to take the GDL (a common Law conversion course) in order to qualify.

An LLB (Bachelor of Laws) is a qualifying degree, meaning the course will follow a more set structure and will give you the qualification you need to become a solicitor or barrister. This is a general rule of thumb but it does have exceptions. Most notably, both BAs in Law at Oxford and Cambridge are qualifying degrees and do not require a conversion course.

Which universities offer an LLM (Master of Laws) course?

Most top universities offer a Master of Laws (LLM) course, including: Cambridge, UCL, LSE, King’s College London (KCL), Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Bristol. The most notable exception is Oxford, which instead of offering a traditional LLM, instead offers other world-renowned postgraduate Law courses called the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) and Magister Juris. These is a taught graduate courses offer a significant amount of one-to-one support – more than a typical LLM offers – from its top academics. Oxford’s BCL is designed to serve “outstanding Law students from common Law backgrounds” and is incredibly competitive, with only the most outstanding students holding a top first-class degree in Law being accepted.