By DebbieH 01 Oct 2017 7 min read

Top UK Universities for Law

The UK is one of the best places in the world to study law. With 27 UK universities featured in the top 200 of the 2017 QS World University Rankings, it is unsurprising that the country has maintained its reputation as a centre of legal excellence.

Which universities you apply to is a very important decision and you need to be confident that you’ve made the right choice. We’ve put together our own rankings of UK universities with a focus on their law courses. These rankings take into account the most important factors to help you make that all important decision. We’ve looked at the quality of the research that each university produces, the quality of the teaching, and how many past students have found graduate employment. We have also had a look at what the students of each university have to say through the National Student Survey.

Read on to see our results table and to discover more about the universities that made it into our top 10.  

Simply Law Jobs University Rankings 2018


Rank University Simply Law Jobs Score Student Satisfaction Research Quality Career Prospects Quality of Teaching
1 University of Cambridge 91.14 87.4 90.28 95 91.9
2 University of Oxford 87.14 82.6 90.13 86 89.85
3 UCL 82.93 78.4 85.60 80.5 87.2
4 LSE 79.38 78.6 78.50 83 77.4
5 Edinburgh 78.79 78.4 76.85 86.5 73.4
6 King's College London 77.76 77.8 78.60 82.5 72.15
7 Warwick 72.17 79 66.38 82.5 60.8
8 Manchester 71.43 76.4 69.65 82 57.65
9 Bristol 70.44 80.2 66.23 78.5 56.85
10 Durham 70.35 83.8 65.70 81.5 50.4
11 Leeds 70.28 85.8 64.23 81 50.1
12 York 69.93 84 63.95 84.5 47.25
13 Queen Mary 69.26 84.4 57.73 82.5 52.4
14 Nottingham 68.76 86.2 60.58 75.5 52.75
15 Glasgow 68.59 78.2 61.45 87.5 47.2
16 Sheffield 68.34 81.2 63.23 79.5 49.45
17 Aberdeen 68.21 82.4 51.30 91 48.15
18 Southampton 68.19 80.2 56.10 77.5 58.95
19 Kent 67.70 83.2 51.05 85 51.55
20 Liverpool 67.62 79.4 53.73 77 60.35
21 Leicester 67.01 81.2 53.75 85 48.1
22 UEA 66.89 89.2 52.93 76 49.45
23 Birmingham 66.73 79.4 56.28 85.5 45.75
24 Reading 66.32 79.4 53.08 86.5 46.3
25 Dundee 66.31 87.2 50.88 86 41.15
26 Sussex 65.78 83 52.55 85 42.55
27 Cardiff 65.34 78.8 59.65 70 52.9
28 Newcastle 64.66 84.4 55.53 77.5 41.2
29 Keele 64.46 81.2 45.75 88 42.9
30 Queens, Belfast 64.41 82.2 55.78 86 33.65
31 Exeter 62.87 80.2 58.03 81 32.25
32 Essex 62.58 81.6 46.55 82 33.05
33 Surrey 62.46 83.4 52.50 79.5 36.7
34 Swansea 61.35 83.8 48.30 72 46.15
35 Stirling 61.09 80.8 46.35 78 39.2
36 Ulster 60.98 86 49.43 70 38.5
37 Birkbeck, University of London 60.96 79.6 53.00 77.5 33.75
38 City, University of London 60.16 80.6 47.73 82.5 29.8
39 Portsmouth 59.11 81.6 43.28 77.5 34.05
40 Manchester Metropolitan 58.38 82.2 41.28 74.5 35.55
41 Lincoln 57.31 86.2 35.05 77 31
42 Oxford Brookes 57.16 84.2 42.10 73.5 28.85
43 Brunel University London 56.42 77.8 44.33 67 36.55
44 Hull 56.03 79.6 42.00 71 31.5
45 Derby 55.88 78.8 30.50 78.5 35.7
46 Aston 55.71 85.4 49.08 74 14.35
47 Salford 55.63 88 40.40 64 30.1
48 Nottingham Trent 55.49 84 35.33 75.5 27.15
49 London South Bank 54.91 89.6 37.83 68 24.2
50 Aberystwyth 54.89 81.6 45.38 70 22.6
51 Robert Gordon 54.63 83.4 32.15 83.5 19.45
52 De Montfort 54.58 83.8 37.05 79.5 17.95
53 Bangor 54.50 88.2 39.95 66.5 23.35
54 Northumbria 54.41 83 38.60 73 23.05
55 Strathclyde 54.18 82.2 51.48 75 8.05
56 Brighton 54.08 80.6 41.60 70 24.1
57 Sheffield Hallam 53.79 82.6 39.40 63 30.15
58 Middlesex 53.68 79.8 42.05 70.5 22.35
59 West of England, Bristol 53.11 81.2 36.75 75 19.5
60 Glasgow Caledonian 51.81 82.2 34.08 76.5 14.45
61 Bournemouth 51.66 77.6 40.98 63.5 24.55
62 Plymouth 51.21 83.6 44.48 53.5 23.25
63 Liverpool John Moores 50.56 81.4 38.35 62 20.5
64 Westminster 50.31 77.6 38.75 73 11.9
65 Greenwich 49.91 82.8 26.78 72.5 17.55
66 Teesside 49.52 88.8 42.03 47 20.25
67 Bedfordshire 49.19 85.6 29.38 65 16.8
68 Leeds Beckett 46.01 82.6 29.55 65 6.9


Note: Some universities have been excluded where sufficient data was not available.


1. University of Cambridge

Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 87.4
Research quality 90.28
Career prospects 95
Quality of teaching 91.9

It’s little surprise that an Oxbridge university has topped our list. Cambridge beat its main rival Oxford in all of our ranking factors. The significant differences between the two were with student satisfaction and career prospects, with almost 10% more Cambridge students in graduate employment. The scores for research quality and the quality of teaching were very close between the two.

Cambridge has been teaching law since the 13th century and has an academic, rather than vocational, approach to teaching law. Their BA students are encouraged to think beyond the letter of the law and consider how it might be applied in complicated cases, whether laws are in need of reform, and why certain laws need to be implemented. This results in forward-thinking graduates who have a thorough understanding of how the law has evolved and how to use it. These are qualities that employers find very attractive, as demonstrated in their high career prospects score.

Remember, if you want to apply to Cambridge to start university in 2018, your UCAS application deadline is October 15, 2017. The deadline for most other courses is January 15, 2018. See the UCAS website for more information.


2. University of Oxford

Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 82.6
Research quality 90.13
Career prospects 86
Quality of teaching 89.85

Despite being beaten to the top spot by old rival Cambridge, the University of Oxford is still one of the most highly regarded places to study law in the world. Its graduates are therefore in high demand.

Their BA places particular emphasis on the first hand study of statutes and past cases. You will have access to some of the best law libraries in the country to help you with your studies. The course recognises the creative aspect of crafting legal arguments and values originality and inspiration. You will be taught by weekly tutorial of two or three students which will help you master the art of legal argument.

There is also a BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe offered. This course includes an extra year spent at a university in continental Europe. You can choose to spend your year abroad in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, or Holland.

As with Cambridge, the UCAS application deadline for all course at Oxford is October 15, 2017.


3. University College London (UCL)

Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 78.4
Research quality 85.6
Career prospects 80.5
Quality of teaching 87.2

For nearly 200 years, UCL has offered students an extremely high standard of legal education. While the QS World University Rankings place the university as number 12 in the world, UCL has come in as our number 3 in the UK.

As a law undergraduate, you will receive an outstanding foundation in the theory of law as well as how to apply this in practice. UCL also boasts a vibrant student community which offers a long established Law Society, competitions, specialist career support and a programme of events throughout the year. This collaborative environment promises to give students the right knowledge, skills and experience to launch a successful career in law. An impressive record of 80% of students finding employment or going into further study demonstrates excellent prospects for UCL law students.


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


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 78.6
Research quality 78.5
Career prospects 83
Quality of teaching 77.4

LSE scored highly across the board and stood out with an especially high score for career prospects. The university has a highly practical approach to the study of law, recognising it as the study of a social science. You will learn about the law in the context of our social, civil and business interactions in the real world. You will also have access to teaching from academics who contribute to world-leading research which helps shape the development of the law. As well as the excellent grounding in legal knowledge, you will also be offered a wide selection of optional subjects which allow you to specialise in your own interests.

Students at LSE are immersed in an active legal community from the moment they arrive. Not only is the campus next to the Royal Courts of Justice, it is also within ten-minutes walk of all four Inns of Court.


5. University of Edinburgh


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 78.4
Research quality 76.85
Career prospects 86.5
Quality of teaching 73.4

A degree from the University of Edinburgh will prepare you for a career as a lawyer in Scotland. Although the focus of the degree is on Scots law, other systems, including English law, are also explored. As is usual for an undergraduate degree in Scotland, the course is over a period of four-years.

The BA is split into ‘The Ordinary Years’ and ‘The Honours Years’. The Ordinary Years are the first two years of your degree and will give you a general overview of the law. Your final two years, the Honours Years, allow you to specialise in subjects that you have a particular interest in. You will have the opportunity to study the law in the context of gender, family, property, media, or human rights, to name just a few of the options.


6. King’s College London


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 77.8
Research quality 78.6
Career prospects 82.5
Quality of teaching 72.15

King’s College London is recognised by the QS World University Rankings as one of the top 20 universities in the world to study law. The Law School is undergoing a £40m transformation project which aims to set new standards in legal research and education. The undergraduate LLB law programme gives students a grounding in the study of law as an intellectual discipline before allowing students to decide on a particular vocation.

You will be assigned a personal tutor at the beginning of your degree who will offer you advice on both academic and personal issues. They will also be able to help you when the time comes to think further about your career.

There is a strong community within the King’s College Law School, with the Law Society organising social and career related events. The campus is also on the doorstep of the Inns of Court, the Law Society, and the Royal Court of Justice.


7. University of Warwick


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 79
Research quality 66.38
Career prospects 82.5
Quality of teaching 60.8

The University of Warwick scored highly on student satisfaction and has an excellent score for career prospects. Their degrees aim to give you a foundation in the technical and doctrinal aspects of the law and how this can be applied to modern society.

Their unique approach to the study of law offers students a valuable insight into the impact of law beyond the library and the courtroom. You will gain an outstanding level of legal knowledge, research and writing skills, and presentation skills through your time at Warwick. This undoubtedly contributes to the high level of employment for past students.

Warwick also offers each law student the opportunity to apply for an intercalated year abroad at one of their partner universities.


8. University of Manchester


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 76.4
Research quality 69.65
Career prospects 82
Quality of teaching 57.65

The University of Manchester offers undergraduate law students a course that demonstrates how legal systems shape our societies. You will learn the foundation subjects that will give you a grounding in legal skills and knowledge. You will then be given a choice of optional subjects which allow you to develop further in your particular areas of interest.

Manchester prides itself on being an international university and this gives you the opportunity to make connections with legal professionals from around the world. You will also have the opportunity to volunteer at the school’s Legal Advice Centre which offers pro bono advice to members of the public. This gives students invaluable practical experience in working with clients.


9. University of Bristol


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 80.2
Research quality 66.23
Career prospects 78.5
Quality of teaching 56.85

The University of Bristol’s Law School offers its students a rigorous legal education informed by research. They aim to produce high quality graduates who have an ethical and grounded understanding of the law.

The course offers students the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with mooting and debating. The university also has a Law Clinic where students can build up some pro bono experience. This is an excellent way to find out what areas of law most interest you on a practical level and helps to broaden your understanding of law in our society. There is also a Human Rights Law Clinic on offer to students.

At the end of your first year at Bristol, you will have the opportunity to apply for a year abroad. You could find yourself studying at a university in Singapore, Colombia, or Australia.


10. University of Durham


Simply Law Jobs Score


Student satisfaction 83.8
Research quality 65.7
Career prospects 81.5
Quality of teaching 50.4

Durham’s Law School can be found in their state of the art sustainable Palatine Centre. This award winning building is home to excellent facilities, such as moot court rooms, lecture theatres, and study suites. The staff offer their students a research-led education which produces highly employable graduates. You will complete the foundation subjects that allow you to graduate with a qualifying law degree and then move on to some optional modules in your second year.

There is an option to study law with a year abroad at Durham. The law school currently has partnerships with universities in Europe and further afield in Canada and Singapore.


Find out what you can do with a law degree by reading some of our job descriptions.



We focused on the four main factors that you might want to consider when choosing which universities to apply to and gave each university score out of 100 for each of these. Here’s how we worked out the score for these factors.

Student satisfaction:

Every year, the National Student Survey (NSS) asks final-year undergraduates a series of questions about their experience of their course. The feedback they give is intended to help prospective students decide between courses and highlight to universities where the learning experience could be improved.

We used the data from the 2016 survey as there have been some significant changes to the questions in 2017. The NSS does not display results from surveys that have fewer than 10 responses. There were therefore some gaps in the data from 2017 and it is not valid to group results from 2016 and 2017 due to the changes.

Research quality:

We used two sources of data to calculate research quality. The first source was the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). This is an assessment conducted by the education funding councils in in the UK. The results of this assessment looked at the research submissions from each university department and awarded each a category of either 4*, 3*, 2*, 1*, or unclassified. A quality score was calculate from these classifications.

The second source we used was the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Their quality score is based on responses to their Academic Reputation Survey, research income, and research productivity.

Career prospects:

Our score for career prospects looks at the HESA data for 2014-15. This shows the number of graduates who have entered graduate level employment out of the total number of graduates whose employment status is known. We also looked at how many of these graduates found employment within six months and adjusted our score accordingly.

Quality of teaching:

To reach our quality of teaching score, we gave each university a score based on the student:staff ratio supplied by the HESA 2015-16 data. This is an important indicator of how much time each member of staff can dedicate to each student. We then looked at the Times Higher Education World University Rankings which also take into account their Academic Reputation Survey, Institutional income, Doctorates awarded to academic staff ratio, and Doctorate to bachelor’s ratio.

After giving each university a score out of 100 for each of these factors, we were able to calculate our Simply Law Jobs Score.


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