Guide to UK Applications • Undergraduate

Study Law in the UK: An Ultimate Guide For Undergraduates

POSTED ON 04/25/2024 BY The Red Pen

Get expert insights and guidance for your journey into undergraduate law studies in the UK.

Many international students favour the UK as a destination as you can study law at the undergraduate level. In contrast, students typically study law in the US at the postgraduate level. In 2023, prestigious institutions like the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London, and King’s College London secured positions among the top 20 law schools globally. So, if you’re dreaming of studying law in the UK, here’s everything you need to know

How difficult is it for international students to get admission to a UK law programme?

Entrance into a UK law programme is highly competitive, mainly due to a high volume of applications. According to The Law Society, 33,720 UK students applied to study law at the undergraduate level in 2022. Out of these, 29,905 UK students were accepted into courses. In contrast, 8,650 international students applied to study undergraduate law in the same year, but universities accepted only 4,345 applicants. This data underscores the competitiveness of admissions, especially for international students who face stiff competition for a limited number of available spots. Therefore, international students must present strong academic credentials, language proficiency, and a clear understanding of the UK legal system to enhance their chances of admission to a UK law programme.

Understanding the UK’s legal education system 

The UK’s legal education system is considered among the most advanced globally. It is rooted in its common law tradition and shaped by national policies on higher education and demands from the legal profession. Despite not being part of the EU, UK legal education integrates European influences. The UK comprises three legal jurisdictions—England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland—all based on common law. 

Legal education in the UK consists of two stages: Academic and Vocational. The Academic stage emphasises studying legal theories and concepts after obtaining a qualifying law degree (QLD). In contrast, the Vocational stage focuses on practical skills needed for practising law, building upon the knowledge gained in the Academic phase via a postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) Bar Training Course. This is where you learn the procedural rules for criminal and civil practice and many practical skills for the Bar, including advocacy, conference skills, opinion writing and drafting.

A full-time law degree or LLB typically spans three years in the UK, though exceptions exist. For instance, while the University of Cambridge offers three-year law courses, the University of Oxford provides options for three- and four-year degrees, including a study abroad opportunity. In Scotland, institutions like the University of Edinburgh offer four-year courses. Additionally, accelerated two-year courses are available at institutions like The University of Law. Some universities also provide joint honours degrees, such as Queen Mary University London’s LLB degree in Law and Politics.

The Bar Council and The Law Society largely govern the UK’s legal education system. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales, sets standards for entry to the Bar, and regulates the professional practice, conduct, and disciplinary matters concerning barristers. The Law Society, on the other hand, represents solicitors in England and Wales. It oversees solicitors’ education, training, and regulation, sets professional standards, and supports its members. These two organisations significantly influence the formulation of legal curricula in the UK, especially in England and Wales. 

To become a barrister, you must finish the Bar Practice Course (BPC), a postgraduate programme after your LLB to become a barrister. The BPC is the vocational training before a pupillage, which is necessary to qualify for the Bar. Pupillage is the practical training period aspiring barristers undertake after completing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). 

However, the LLB undergraduate degree is no longer mandatory if you want to become a solicitor. As per a new regulation dated September 2, 2023, students with degrees in engineering, art, or literature can apply to become solicitors in the UK. If you’re a student with a non-law degree, you need two years of full-time work experience in providing legal services, as defined by the Legal Services Act 2007. Additionally, you must meet character and suitability requirements, disclosing any relevant information such as criminal history or academic offences. Finally, you must pass the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), comprising two stages: SQE1 for legal knowledge and SQE2 for practical skills.

It’s worth noting that the education and training system for lawyers can vary slightly between different parts of the UK (England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), so prospective students should research the specific requirements for their chosen jurisdiction.

What is the teaching style of undergraduate law in the UK? 

Undergraduate law education in the UK blends conventional teaching approaches with hands-on, skills-focused learning to prepare students comprehensively for a career in law. Here’s what students can anticipate:

1) Lecture-based learning:

The UK’s legal education system relies on traditional lecture formats. Professors deliver these lectures to large groups, covering fundamental legal principles, significant case precedents, statutes, and theoretical frameworks. These lectures provide students with a solid legal knowledge and theory foundation, essential for understanding the law.

2) Seminars and tutorials:

In addition to lectures, smaller group sessions such as seminars and tutorials play a crucial role in the law curriculum. These sessions offer students opportunities for interactive discussions, in-depth case analyses, and collaborative problem-solving exercises. They provide a platform for students to engage with the material more intimately, fostering critical thinking and analytical skills.

3) Mooting:

Mooting is a distinctive feature of undergraduate law education. It involves simulated court proceedings in which students argue hypothetical legal cases before a judge or panel of judges. This activity enhances students’ advocacy skills, legal reasoning abilities, and oral presentation techniques. It provides a practical experience that simulates the challenges and dynamics of real-world legal practice.

4) Legal research and writing:

Undergraduate law programmes prioritise the development of robust research and writing competencies. Students engage in various legal research tasks and writing assignments, including essays, case briefs, and legal memos. These assignments deepen students’ understanding of legal concepts and refine their ability to effectively analyse complex issues and communicate their findings.

5) Practical application:

Many law courses in the UK integrate practical components into their undergraduate programmes, such as legal clinics, internships, or work placements. These opportunities allow students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings, gain practical experience, and develop professional skills under the guidance of experienced practitioners. Practical exposure enhances students’ readiness for the demands of legal practice upon graduation.

6) Independent study:

Independent study is fundamental to undergraduate law programmes in the UK, requiring students to engage in self-directed learning outside of scheduled classes. This involves extensive reading of legal texts, researching case law and statutes, preparing for seminars, and completing assignments. Independent study cultivates self-discipline, critical inquiry, and the ability to manage one’s learning effectively, preparing students for the rigours of legal academia and practice.

What are the best universities in the UK to study undergraduate law?

It is no secret that UK universities offer some of the best law programmes in the world. According to Times Higher Education, we’ve selected the top 6 universities of 2024: 

University Course DurationAcceptance RateTotal Admitted Indian Students
University of CambridgeBA (Hons) 3 YearsApplications: 1845Acceptance Rate: 12%Acceptances: 217238 Indian Students
University of Oxford3 years or 4 years with a year abroad (BA equivalent to LLB)Interviewed: 34%Successful: 11%Intake: 197550 Indian Students
University College LondonLLB 3 yearsAcceptance Rate: 19%Acceptances: 208900 Indian Students
University of EdinburghLLB 4 yearsApplications: 741Offer: 304Acceptance Rate: 41%
Acceptances: 62
265 Indian Students
London School of EconomicsLLB 3 YearsApplications: 2663Acceptances: 190157 Indian Students
King’s College LondonLLB 3 YearsApplications: 4135 Offers: 846Acceptances: 267740 South Asian Students

Source: University websites. Disclaimer: Statistics are subject to change. Please conduct your research while working on your application. 

1) University of Cambridge

Situated in Cambridge, England, the University of Cambridge was established in the 13th century and is renowned for its historic colleges, scenic surroundings and exemplary education standards. Among its illustrious alumni, the University of Cambridge proudly counts individuals from diverse backgrounds, including eminent figures from India, such as Nobel laureate Dr. Amartya Sen and former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

At the University of Cambridge, an emphasis is placed on a tutorial-based approach to educating undergraduate law students, providing tailored instruction to foster critical thinking. Expert tutors conduct these tutorials in small groups to encourage in-depth discussions, analysis of legal texts, and constructive feedback on students’ work. In addition to tutorials, students attend lectures and seminars, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of legal principles and theory.

The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme here is highly regarded for its academic rigour and wide-ranging curriculum. Encompassing various legal disciplines such as contract law, criminal law, constitutional law, and international law, the programme offers students a broad foundation of knowledge. Practical components, including moot court competitions, legal research projects, and internships, allow students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, enhancing their learning experience.

2) University of Oxford

Situated in the heart of Oxford, England, the University of Oxford is one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed academic institutions, tracing its roots back to the 12th century. Nestled within the city centre, the university is surrounded by a tapestry of historic colleges, libraries, and academic edifices. Its legacy is adorned with a constellation of distinguished alumni hailing from diverse spheres, such as Amal Clooney, the globally renowned human rights lawyer and activist, and Cornelia Sorabji, an Indian social reformer who shattered barriers as the first woman to enrol in Oxford Law during the 1890s.

The instructional methodology at the University of Oxford is centred on a tutorial-based approach. Within intimate settings, undergraduate law students benefit from personalised guidance facilitated by seasoned tutors. These tutorials serve as platforms for nuanced discussions, critical examinations of legal literature, and constructive feedback on students’ written endeavours. The undergraduate law curriculum, comprising the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) or the Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence (BA Jurisprudence), is renowned for its rigorous academic standards and profound intellectual exploration. Encompassing an array of legal disciplines, including contract law, tort law, criminal law, constitutional law, and international law, the program seamlessly integrates theoretical comprehension with practical application through moot court simulations, legal research initiatives, and internships.

3) University College London (UCL)

Situated in the heart of London, England and established in 1826, University College London (UCL) is celebrated for its groundbreaking research and academic distinction. Nestled in Bloomsbury, the university campus is enveloped by cultural institutions, historic landmarks, and vibrant neighbourhoods. UCL boasts a distinguished alumni community, including figures from India, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Arundhati Katju, Indian human rights lawyers, activists, and advocates. Katju notably served as one of the lead counsels in the landmark case of Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India, wherein the Supreme Court of India invalidated Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

UCL provides a dynamic learning environment by employing diverse teaching methodologies, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, and practical workshops. Undergraduate law students benefit from intimate group discussions, interactive learning activities, and hands-on experiences. UCL offers an extensive undergraduate law programme leading to a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree, covering various legal disciplines such as contract law, property law, criminal law, and human rights law. Students actively engage in cutting-edge legal research, theoretical discourse, and practical case studies. Through moot court competitions, internships, and pro bono projects, students seize opportunities to apply their legal acumen in real-world settings while honing their professional skills.

4) University of Edinburgh

Situated in Edinburgh, Scotland, the University of Edinburgh is a prestigious institution renowned for academic excellence and research-driven education. With its inception dating back to 1582, it is one of the older and more esteemed universities in the English-speaking world. Enriched with a profound history, it harbours a diverse community of scholars, counting influential figures from myriad fields among its ranks. Notable alumni include Dr. Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and advocate for child rights, alongside prominent global investor and author Ruchir Sharma.

A steadfast commitment to academic rigour and intellectual inquiry marks the university’s educational ethos. For undergraduate law students, a dynamic array of lectures, seminars, and tutorials forms the backbone of their educational journey. These sessions foster interactive discussions, facilitate critical analysis of legal concepts, and promote collaborative learning. The LLB program comprehensively studies contract, criminal, property, and public international law. Encouraging an interdisciplinary approach, the curriculum prompts students to explore the intersections of law with fields such as politics, economics, and social sciences. Through immersive experiences like moot court competitions, internships, and research endeavours, students at the University of Edinburgh hone practical skills and glean invaluable insights into the legal profession.

5) London School of Economics

Located in London, England, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is a globally renowned institution specialising in social sciences. Founded in 1895, LSE has garnered acclaim for its commitment to academic excellence and research-driven pedagogy. The institution boasts a plethora of influential figures spanning various domains, including notable personalities from India, such as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution.

At LSE, the educational approach emphasises interactive and research-oriented methods. Undergraduate law students benefit from lectures, seminars, and tutorials. These tutorials facilitate small group discussions, foster critical analysis of legal texts, and promote peer-to-peer learning. LSE offers a rigorous undergraduate law programme culminating in a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. The course encompasses diverse legal subjects, from contract and tort law to criminal and international law. Moreover, the curriculum underscores interdisciplinary perspectives, encouraging students to explore the nexus of law with economics, politics, and society. Through moot court competitions, internships, and research endeavours, students acquire practical experience and cultivate professional skills crucial for success in the legal or academic sphere.

6) King’s College London

King’s College London boasts multiple campuses in the heart of the UK’s capital city. Established in 1829, it is committed to excellence in education, research, and innovation. The institution is renowned for its distinguished alumni who have made significant contributions across various domains, including acclaimed author Rohinton Mistry, celebrated for his critically acclaimed novels such as “A Fine Balance” and “Family Matters,” and Indian politician and diplomat Shashi Tharoor.

At King’s College London, an innovative and interdisciplinary approach characterises the teaching and learning methods. Undergraduate law students benefit from various instructional strategies, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, and practical exercises. The faculty here comprises esteemed scholars and practitioners who provide students with access to cutting-edge research and expertise. The LLB programme offers a robust foundation in legal principles, theories, and methodologies, covering various legal subjects such as contract, tort, public, and international law. Through participation in moot courts, internships, and clinical legal education programmes, students acquire practical experience and develop professional skills. The central London location affords students convenient access to various legal institutions, including law firms, courts, and regulatory bodies.

What is the cost of studying undergraduate law in the UK

While undergraduate law courses in the UK are highly sought after, they can be expensive, especially for international students. Here is the approximate cost of studying law in the UK:

UniversityAnnual International Student Tuition Fees for 2023 Entry≅Annual Living Expenses ≅Total Cost of Attendance 
University of Oxford£38,550£12,105 – £17,595£50,655 – £56,145 per year
University of Cambridge£25,734£14,600 £40,334 per year
University College London£31,100£17,072 – £17,576£49,172 – £48,676 per year
University of Edinburgh£27,300£11,345-18,850£38,645 – £46,150 per year
London School of Economics£28,176£16,800£44,976 per year
King’s College London£29,472£21,600£51,072 per year

Source: University websites. Disclaimer: Costs are subject to change. Please conduct your research while working on your application

What is the average salary after studying law in the UK

The average starting salary for a barrister is £21,000, which goes up to £200,000 for experienced barristers. Solicitors start similarly at £20,000 but can go up to £100,000 with experience. However, at the upper echelon, only two percent of barristers earn over £1 million annually, while nearly 12 percent earn less than £30,000.

The income gap primarily stems from variations in barristers’ practice areas. Junior barristers in successful commercial chambers can earn over £70,000, with top commercial QCs commanding substantial fees. Conversely, their counterparts in criminal and family sets may start their careers earning £20,000 or less.

What are the application requirements for studying undergraduate law in the UK?

1) Applying through UCAS 

To apply for law studies in the UK, you must submit your application online through The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Through UCAS, you can select up to five universities where you wish to apply for admission.

2) The LNAT

The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) is an entrance exam that assists universities in selecting applicants for their undergraduate law programmes. It evaluates aptitude for legal study skills rather than testing law knowledge or other subjects. However, students are encouraged to practice and prepare for the test.

The LNAT comprises two sections:

  • Section A: This computer-based, multiple-choice section asks you to read 12 argumentative passages and answer questions that test your understanding within 95 minutes. A computer checks your answers to determine your LNAT score based on 42 marks.
  • Section B: In this segment, you must choose and write about one of three essay topics within 40 minutes. This section allows you to demonstrate your ability to construct a persuasive argument and arrive at a conclusion.

Universities considering the LNAT include Durham University, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London, University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham, and University of Oxford. In 2022, the University of Cambridge discontinued the Cambridge Law Test and now mandates law applicants to take the LNAT.

Universities that do not require the LNAT include the University of Edinburgh, The University of Manchester, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Exeter, the University of Leeds, the University of Southampton, and the University of Warwick. However, it is advisable to check their websites to ensure no additional assessments are needed.

Key features of the LNAT:

  • Duration: 140 minutes
  • Registration: Opens on August 1. An LNAT account is required.
  • Exam dates:
  • University of Oxford applicants: On or before October 15
  • London School of Economics applicants: On or before December 31
  • All other LNAT university applicants: On or before January 25
  • Preparation: Engage in reading quality English-language newspapers and reflecting on assumptions and counterarguments.
  • Frequency: Offered on multiple dates between September and June.
  • Validity: Valid for one application cycle and cannot be carried forward.
  • Cost: In the UK & EU: Approximately £75; Outside UK & EU: Approximately £120.

Disclaimer: All details are subject to change annually. Please refer to the official website for updates.

3) Academic records 

A solid academic foundation is essential for those aspiring to pursue undergraduate law in the UK. Universities typically seek applicants with completed subjects that foster critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and practical communication skills. For example, what subject 

Typically, you should score high grades, particularly A*/A or their equivalent, to indicate academic excellence and preparedness for legal education. UK universities commonly accept qualifications such as A Levels and the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. While graduates from Indian national boards like the Indian School Certificate (ISC) or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are often considered, applicants from state boards such as the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) may find that their qualifications do not align with the academic standards of UK universities. It is highly recommended for prospective undergraduate law students to study subjects such as English, history, politics, or other humanities at an advanced level during grades 11 and 12.

4) English proficiency tests 

International students (especially from non-English speaking countries) must take English proficiency tests like the IELTS or TOEFL. Not only are they required by universities but also by the government for student visas. The minimum required score for IELTS is 7.0, and approximately 100 for TOEFL.

5) Work experience 

While work experience is not typically a strict requirement for undergraduate LLB admissions in the UK, it can undoubtedly strengthen your profile and provide valuable insights into the legal profession. Demonstrating relevant work experience or extracurricular activities related to law or legal studies can enhance an applicant’s application. Engaging in activities such as internships at law firms, volunteering at legal clinics, participating in moot court competitions, or undertaking relevant research projects can demonstrate a candidate’s passion for law. The key is to ensure that you reflect on the insights gained from your experiences when crafting your law UCAS personal statement.

6) Personal statement 

When completing your UCAS application form, crafting a personal statement within the limited 4000-character count is crucial. It serves as an opportunity for you to articulate your reasons for pursuing an LLB degree and highlight the skills and qualities that make you well-suited to the program. Given the restricted space, each word carries significance, so use them carefully. Read this two-part guide on writing a compelling UCAS personal statement – Part 1 and Part 2

7) Interviews 

Contrary to popular belief, most UK law schools do not require interviews for their admissions process. However, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge are exceptions to this rule. UCL only conducts interviews when students apply to LLB Law with a European Legal System degree to understand their language proficiency. At the University of Oxford, for example, students usually interview with two tutors who will guide them through the interview questions in a tutorial style, not based on their legal expertise. These interviews take place in December, after the submission of the UCAS in October. There are typically two interviews conducted at the colleges, not the department. Some tutors may give an extract to read or a factual scenario, and students will be tested on their reasoning ability. 

8) Written work

While not all colleges require written work submitted before the interview, the University of Cambridge asks for it. Lucy Cavendish, Pembroke and St. Edmunds are the colleges that require two pieces of written work. Please note that these submitted work requirements are currently being reviewed and are subject to change. Please check the Cambridge website in April 2024 for details. Cambridge usually asks students to submit one or two examples of written work, such as an essay or a portfolio.

University of Oxford

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
A Levels: AAA

IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL
An essay subject can be helpful but is not required. 
Sit the LNAT before or on 15 October 2024.7.5 for IELTS, 110 for TOEFL RequiredTutorial Style Interview with 2 Tutors. Invitations are sent in November for December. 

University of Cambridge

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
A level: A*AAIB: 41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Sit the LNAT before or on 15 October 2024.IELTS: 7.0TOEFL (PBT): 600, with 5.0 in the Test of Written English
TOEFL internet-based (iBT): Overall score of 100, with no less than 25 in each element.
Written Work:Applicants to some Colleges must submit written work before the interview. 
Online or in-person. They’re a conversation about the subject that you’re interested in studying. 1 or 2 with around 35-50 minutes of interview time. Find out how to prepare for your interview.

University College London

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
Grades: A*AAAt least two A level subjects should be taken from UCL’s list of preferred A level subjects.
IB Points: 39Subjects: 19 points in three higher-level subjects, with no higher level score below 5.
Sit the LNAT before or on 31 December 2024.IELTS (Academic) 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in each skill
IELTS (Online) 7.5 overall with a minimum of 7.) in each skill
TOEFL iBT: 109 overall, with 27 in writing and a minimum of 25 in the other skills.
RequiredOnly in LLB Law with a European Legal System degree to showcase their language proficiency

University of Edinburgh

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
A Levels: A*AA.
IB: 39 points with 666 at HL.
A Levels: English Literature, English Language or combined English at B. English Language and English Literature GCSE, both at A or 7, are accepted in place of A Level English.
IB: HL: English at 5.
LNAT is not required for admissionIELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component
TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component.

London School of Economics

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
A-levels: A*AA
IB Diploma: 38 points overall, with 766 at higher levelGCSE English Language and Mathematics grades should be no lower than B (or 6)
Sit the LNAT before or on 31 December 2024.

IELTS: 7.0TOEFL iBT: 100 RequiredNo

King’s College London  

Academic RequirementsLNATEnglish ProficiencyPersonal StatementInterviews
A-Levels: A*AA
International Baccalaureate: 35 points, including 766 at Higher Level. The total point score of 35 includes TOK/EE.
Sit the LNAT before or on 31 December 2024.IELTS (Academic) 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in each skill
IELTS (Online) 7.5 overall with a minimum of 7 in each skill
TOEFL iBT: 109 overall, with 27 in writing and a minimum of 25 in the other skills.

* Source: University websites. Disclaimer: Costs are subject to change. Please conduct your research while working on your application

Studying law is a transformative experience. Many renowned UK institutions offer exceptional programmes. If you’re looking for more information or wondering how to kick-start your undergraduate application for a law programme in the UK, please contact us. Our UK law experts look forward to assisting you. Meanwhile, read our blogs on Graduate Entry Law Courses in the UK and The UK UCAS Undergraduate Admissions: An Ultimate Guide for more information.