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Best universities in the UK for law degrees 2023

Find the best universities for law degrees in the UK using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2023 data

October 27 2022
Best universities in the UK for law degrees


Top 10 universities in the UK for law degrees 2023

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in the UK for law degrees

UK law rank 2023  WUR law rank 2023  University City
1  3  University of Cambridge Cambridge
2  4  University of Oxford Oxford
3  =7  London School of Economics and Political Science London
4  11  UCL London
5  15  University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
6  19  King’s College London London
7  40  University of Nottingham Nottingham
8  42  Durham University Durham
9  =47  University of Essex Essex
10  55  University of Leeds Leeds

The UK is home to some of the leading law schools in the world. 

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The most traditional way to become a lawyer in the UK is to study for a law degree (LLB). Students who have studied a different subject at undergraduate level can take the graduate diploma in law conversion course. Most students will also need to take further courses and training in order to specialise. These include the Bar Practice Course (replacing the Bar Professional Training Course), which allows graduates to prepare and practise as barristers in England and Wales, and the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (from 2021). 

Many universities also allow students to combine their legal studies with other subjects, making it a joint honours degree.

The legal field offers career options such as barrister, coroner, crown prosecutor, patent attorney or solicitor. A law degree provides students with transferrable skills that can be used in any of these positions.

If you obtain a law degree in the UK, you can practise in other countries, but you may need to undertake Practical Legal Training or the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme, depending on which country you are moving to. 

These are the best universities in the UK for law degrees. 

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5. University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh Edinburgh Law School has a history of more than 300 years.

Three undergraduate programmes are offered: the LLB, the joint LLB honours and the graduate LLB, which is a two-year conversion course for students who already have a degree-level qualification.

For postgraduates, a range of LLM and MSc programmes are available in legal areas such as comparative and European private law, global crime, justice and security and innovation, technology and the law. The university also offers an online master’s programme in areas such as medical law and ethics and information technology law. 

As Scotland’s leading legal research institution, Edinburgh Law School is committed to carrying out high-quality research. Students and staff can use the school’s institutes and centres to facilitate their research projects. 

4. UCL

UCL was the first university in the UK to have a faculty of common law. It was also the first university to offer degrees in English law rather than civil law.

UCL Law offers three courses: undergraduate, master of laws (LLM) and the MPhil/PhD programme. Alongside the three-year undergraduate degree, specialisms include the opportunity to transfer to the four-year joint LLB/JD degree, where students spend years three and four at the University of Columbia in New York. Alternatively, they can join the law with another legal system LLB, where students spend their third year at the UNSW Sydney, the University of Hong Kong or the National University of Singapore.

The LLM can be studied part- or full-time; its wide range of modules includes company law, decolonising law, international trade law and religion, state and law, among many others. There is also a range of specialist degree programmes which result in an LLM in a specialised area. These include maritime law, public law, and international banking and finance law. 

A total of 15 centres and institutes are affiliated with UCL Faculty of Law, which facilitate legal teaching and research. These include the UCL Centre for Commercial Law, UCL Centre for Empirical Legal Studies and UCL Centre for Law, Economics and Society.

Students and faculty staff work together on research projects, with recent ones being UCL Public International Law Pro Bono Project and Human Rights Beyond Borders.

3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Law is one of the London School of Economics and Political Science’s largest departments with more than 60 faculty staff. 

Undergraduate students can study the LLB bachelor of laws, as well as the double-degree programme, which involves transferring to Columbia University Law School for two years.

There are two graduate degree programmes offered: LLM master of laws and the executive LLM, which is available to those who have at least three years post-degree work experience in law. The department also offers a PhD programme in law for students seeking to carry out advanced legal research.

Students and faculty staff conduct research in a range of areas including commercial law, environmental law, criminal law and criminal justice, EU law, and human rights. One of their more recent research initiatives is the Law and Economics Forum, which encourages interdisciplinary collaboration between lawyers and economists.

The Modern Law Review is one of the world’s leading academic law reviews and it maintains close ties with the LSE law department. The review is published six times a year and features articles, cases, legislation and reviews.

What can you do with a law degree?

2. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford has one of the largest faculties of law in the UK. When you apply to study for a law degree at Oxford, you can either submit an open application and be assigned a college on acceptance of your place, or you can apply directly to one of the 30 colleges that offer law degrees. 

There are two undergraduate degree programmes available: jurisprudence; and law with law studies in Europe, which includes a year abroad at a university in France, Germany, Italy or Spain. For students who have already studied an undergraduate degree, there is a BA in jurisprudence with senior status, which is a shorter version of the regular law degree. 

Oxford has one of the largest cohorts of law research students in the English-speaking world. There are no compulsory courses in the Magister Juris (MJur) taught graduate course; instead students choose from about 40 options to make up credits. 

The Faculty of Law engages in research projects throughout the academic year. Current projects include: 100 years of Women in Law at Oxford, Addressing Asylum Harm in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, and AI for English Law.

1. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge has been teaching law since the 13th century. 

The Faculty of Law is known today for its courses in international and comparative law, jurisprudence and legal history. The faculty is also known for its research in the socio-legal and social-science fields. 

During the first year of the undergraduate degree, students will learn about civil, tort, criminal and constitutional law. As students progress through their degree, they have the opportunity to specialise in areas such as family law, international law and commercial law. 

As well as the undergraduate law degree, the faculty offers two master’s degrees: law and corporate law. There is also a doctorate in law available for students looking to undertake a career in legal research.

The Herbert Smith Freehills Global Visitor Programme facilitates academic exchanges between partner universities. The faculty has also partnered with Harvard Law School to give Cambridge PhD students the opportunity to use Harvard’s facilities.

Top universities in the UK for law degrees 2023

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2023 profile

UK law rank 2023 WUR law rank 2023  University City
1  3  University of Cambridge Cambridge
2  4  University of Oxford Oxford
3  =7  London School of Economics and Political Science London
4  11  UCL London
5  15  University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
6  19  King’s College London London
7  40  University of Nottingham Nottingham
8  42  Durham University Durham
9  =47  University of Essex Essex
10  55  University of Leeds Leeds
11  63  University of Glasgow Glasgow
=12  =64  University of Bristol Bristol
=12  =64  University of Surrey Guildford
14  67  Swansea University Swansea
15  73  City, University of London London
=16  =75  University of Birmingham Birmingham
=16  =75  University of Kent Kent
18  86  Queen Mary University of London London
19  89  Lancaster University Preston
20  =95  University of Manchester Manchester
=21  101–125  University of Dundee Dundee
=21  101–125  University of Liverpool Liverpool
=21  101–125  Newcastle University Newcastle
=21  101–125  University of Sheffield Sheffield
=21  101–125  University of Warwick Warwick
=26  126–150  Birkbeck, University of London London
=26  126–150  University of East Anglia Norwich
=26  126–150  Northumbria University Northumbria
=26  126–150  University of Portsmouth Portsmouth
=26  126–150  University of Southampton Southampton
=26  126–150  University of York York
=32  151–175  University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
=32  151–175  Cardiff University Cardiff
=32  151–175  University of Exeter Exeter
=32  151–175  Middlesex University Middlesex
=32  151–175  University of Sussex Brighton
=37  176–200  University of Leicester Leicester
=37  176–200  Nottingham Trent University Nottingham
=37  176–200  Queen’s University Belfast Belfast
=37  176–200  University of Strathclyde Strathclyde
=41  201–250  Coventry University Coventry
=41  201–250  De Montfort University Leicester
=41  201–250  University of Huddersfield Huddersfield
=41  201–250  Keele University Keele
=41  201–250  University of Reading Reading
=41  201–250  Royal Holloway, University of London London

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