A levels for Law

(44 Posts)
paddlingwhenIshouldbeworking Mon 03-Feb-20 12:11:37

DS1 is in yr 11 but already set on law as his degree. He is predicted high GCSE grades but is struggling to decide which 3 to select for A level.

He's trying to choose between History, Politics, Philosophy&Theology, Latin, German & English.

He's thinking History, Politics & Philosophy/Theology. Are these too similar ? Not sure how Politics & Philosophy are perceived by uni's.

Any advice would be great.

OP’s posts: |
Crawley65 Mon 03-Feb-20 12:44:37

My dc has a friend in his second year of Law at Bristol University. His A levels were History, Politics and Film Studies. He got offers from all five uni’s he applied for.

NurseNancyandDoctorDavid Mon 03-Feb-20 12:59:28

Our daughter is taking English language, modern history, and Spanish, with an EPQ thrown in too. She was advised not to take law for A level, as some universities see it as having to "undo" the work done prior to their degree.

There are several one / two day law courses available, she attended one at UCL, these also look good on applications.

She's hoping for Oxbridge.

Cohle Mon 03-Feb-20 13:02:41

To be honest any selection of those sounds perfectly reasonable.

Xenia Mon 03-Feb-20 16:14:23

I am a lawyer. I did English, History and German which are all on his oiginal list. Those 3 are what some call "facilitating subjects" - i.e. they are quite hard, traditional and well regarded. Latin would be too.

That does not mean politics isn't okay but I would have it with 2 of the more hard core ones if I were he.

Philosophy is fine too but again I thikn if he could do that with English and History tha would be good. There is a lot of writing in law so history and English (do lit not lang) which have lots of essays and go well together are a good combination. German would also be useful as big law firms often need people with languages to do stints abroad.

Also half of lawyers don't read law. By all means do (I did, my lawyer daughters didn't) but only if you can get into as good a university reading law as you would reading a different subject. Law is quite hard to get in for compared with some subjects. So if it were law at an ex poly or German at Durham for example then his career would be best with German at Durham.

MacavityTheDentistsCat Mon 03-Feb-20 16:27:21

I read law. I did the IB rather than A-levels but my Highers were English, History and Chemistry. I got offers from everywhere I applied to with those. I had the impression that core/traditional subjects (with good grades) are preferred but times may well have changed.

Albatross123 Mon 03-Feb-20 16:38:31

A language would give a better spread of A levels and open up more opportuntities in the future. German is arguably more useful than Latin.

I agree that core subjects are better perceived than others and that too many essay subjects can be very demanding. The skills developed by the study of 'Philosophy and Theology' would be very useful for a career in Law but this subject, more than the others does I think depend on the teacher - it can be very dry if poorly taught.

My ideal suggestion would be History and/or English, Philosophy (if well taught) and German, dropping politics and Latin.


goodbyestranger Mon 03-Feb-20 16:54:56

Skip Politics.

ClarasZoo Mon 03-Feb-20 17:40:05

Lots of people I know did three sciences for A level then law. Lots of law is logic - Maths is good too. Anything that is on that list would be ok IMO. Latin would go down well I would have thought (very logical).

SirTobyBelch Mon 03-Feb-20 17:51:13

Some universities list the particular A-levels they will consider for specific courses. The first one I looked at was Leeds (just because I'd heard it's good for law), which has a list of accepted A-levels for law (M100) at essl.leeds.ac.uk/download/downloads/id/648/accepted_a-level_subjects_2019.pdf. Unfortunately, these lists aren't always fully up-to-date. For example, they will explicitly say they won't accept general studies or critical thinking, which don't exist any more. I couldn't find politics on the list but then saw it was covered by government & politics.

Farahilda Mon 03-Feb-20 17:57:55

At least one essay based subject.

From his list of possibles, I'd go for History, Philosophy/Theology plus whichever other he thinks is most fun.

okiedokieme Mon 03-Feb-20 18:11:28

Proper ones, they are a bit fussy, two should be very traditional to stand a maximum chance

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Mon 03-Feb-20 18:14:54

Last would-be Law student I taught got into Oxford with History, English and Politics.

goodbyestranger Mon 03-Feb-20 18:19:43

Politics is ok, just weaker than the rest.

goodbyestranger Mon 03-Feb-20 18:20:43

Also, Oxford is more flexible than most other top law schools.

BubblesBuddy Mon 03-Feb-20 18:25:12

If Politics was with English and History, thats fine. German is also a good choice. Law with German at university could also be useful. So few people do German these days it might make him an attractive applicant! That’s why MFLs are extra useful and my top choice would be German, History and English.

Also, depending what he wants to do with his Law degree, choose universities very carefully. Xenia often posts a very useful list of universities where Law grads have studied. Also if he wants to study German and History at university, this really won’t stop him being a lawyer! However if it’s Law, go to the highest rated by employers.

cheeseandpineapple Tue 04-Feb-20 08:21:30

Any of those combinations you’ve mentioned would enable your son to consider a top rated university for law if in year 13 he’s on track to secure high grades/predictions. He should choose the combo he would most enjoy and most likely get the highest grades in. I did two sciences and politics A level. I wasn’t interested in Oxbridge but went to the next best uni for law and got offers from all my other choices too. Politics (and this was some time back) was not dissimilar to History but with a contemporary focus which is why I chose it. The history syllabus at my school was the medieval period whereas Politics covered the Second World War and after which appealed to me more. If he’s interested in Politics, your son should check what the syllabus covers.

For what it’s worth, law degrees can be pretty dry though. If he wants to be a lawyer and for further down the track, I’d recommend a degree in a subject he enjoys, from one of the best universities and then the law conversion. When I’m hiring and looking at academics, the university and class of degree helps me differentiate rather than the subject. If anything a non law degree can be interesting and a potential ice breaker at interview.

He might have to do a law aptitude test for some Universities and that’ll help him decide if law at undergraduate level is for him. But in the meantime, he should choose his A level subjects tactically. Without the right grades he won’t be able to apply to certain places. If he’s a strong all rounder, choosing what he enjoys should mean he’s more likely to do well in those subjects too.

HugoSpritz Tue 04-Feb-20 10:05:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Xenia Tue 04-Feb-20 11:55:29

Law is extremely interesting and not dry. I remember studing what is rape, all the details of where the penis has to go etc, what is a crime, family law, what are right - do we have absolute rights - it is really a very interesting degree, but hard work and as I said above half lawyers in good firms read law and half don't.

The list (of universitie ) for what it is worth is www.chambersstudent.co.uk/where-to-start/newsletter/law-firms-preferred-universities-2019

I think he should do English and History and then pick one of the others where he thinks he could get a high grade - German if he can manage a high grade in it but not if he won't.

One of my lawyer daughtesr etc did English, History and classical civilisation (with economics at AS in lower sixth- they did AS levels still in those days). The other lawyer daughter did Chemistry, Geography, Economics (and physics at AS). (and I did English history and German as said above).

paddlingwhenIshouldbeworking Tue 04-Feb-20 13:28:59

This is so useful. Recent landmarks suggest he could achieve mostly 9's, including in the sciences, and he's feeling slightly pressured by teachers to do their subjects at the moment which is not that helpful.

We chatted last night and he was really interested in the German feedback. He finds German very straightforward and gets high marks easily and for that reason he'd subconsciously dismissed it as a bit of a lightweight option, so he's now considering that as a replacement for politics. History is his number one choice. So now he's possibly at History, Philosophy/Theology, German

I can see him wanting to do the post-grad law conversion option but finance will be an issue so he'll need to factor that in.

Any other advice for potential law applicants would be great.

OP’s posts: |
Cohle Tue 04-Feb-20 13:35:10

There's a perception that it's harder to get top marks in MFL's because native or near native speakers sit them and do very well, distorting the marks.

I'd be slightly wary of that if he's looking at 9s and considering Oxbridge.

City law firms will partially fund students from the top universities to do the GDL if they have applied for jobs early enough. So it's not necessarily as financially as painful to go that route as you'd expect.

goodbyestranger Tue 04-Feb-20 13:51:53

Yes I'm also puzzled by the notion that the academic study of law is dry, and I've always had the boredom threshold of a knat. Law is a fab degree; incredibly interesting. That's one reason to do law as a degree as opposed to a conversion course, because you otherwise risk missing a lot of the most interesting bits.

goodbyestranger Tue 04-Feb-20 13:53:07

I mean gnat not knat.

Xenia Tue 04-Feb-20 15:01:47

History, German (if he can get a high grade in it) (or English lit) and Philosphy/Theology sounds like a good mixture and includes 2 of the harder/facilitating ones which the universities seem to be playing down currently but still counts in some recruiters' heads www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/a-level-choices/six-things-you-need-to-know-before-making-your-a-level-choices - list in that link to the facilitating subjects. Doing 2 of them is a good idea. Eg my twins (at Bristol currently) both did History and Geography and then a 3rd subject (classical civilisation and the other one economics (plus they did an AS level too) - by the way my older daughter says economics was her favourite and most useful A level and you don't have to do maths A level to do well at it - I am quite a fan of it but it does not sound as if it is on your son's radar).

As said above if you apply in time and get a training contract law firms will pay for the GDL and LPC (under the current system) and will pay for whatever comes when the new qualification system comes in. Even if not you can get a post grad student loan if you add an LLM on to the GDL in the same year which some people do.

cheeseandpineapple Wed 05-Feb-20 01:10:41

Didn’t mean to offend any law grads, I said that law degrees “can be” dry because I think that parts of them can be and some law degree courses will be more or less interesting than others. That doesn’t mean the overall academic study of law is not interesting or valuable. For me there were large chunks of equity and trusts, land law, EU law (don’t know if it will continue to be compulsory!) and administrative law that didn’t thrill me but maybe tickled others, it’s all subjective and debatable!

Of the other core subjects, I enjoyed criminal law, constitutional law and tort. I found jurisprudence (philosophy of law) really fascinating which you probably wouldn’t get to study if you didn’t do a full law degree but it was just one unit studied over one year. Overall I found the interesting parts not as dominant as I had imagined but that might be in part down to where I studied as it was a particularly academic course.

What students might not realise when they apply for law is that a qualifying law degree exempts you from doing the conversion because you have to take some compulsory subjects and that means less choice of modules than with other subjects. With some subjects you can almost adapt your degree to your interests. For History courses you can have a wide range of options from year one. Given the breadth of law there are undoubtedly some fascinating topics out there but you may not have the chance to study that many of them once you do the compulsory ones for the qualifying degree.

My advice to anyone thinking of a law degree is to look at the modules being offered on different courses and how much choice you have and what appeals to you. For example Oxford (ranked 2nd for law) has a really interesting and extensive list of options. Plus they offer a German related law degree too. The Oxford and Cambridge courses are BA’s not LLB so you would need to select carefully to ensure you would still be exempt from doing the conversion if that’s what was wanted later.

Durham (ranked 6th) also has a more extensive range of options compared to other top ranked law courses.

From a financial perspective there are advantages in doing a qualifying law degree but you can take out a loan or also take a year out after graduating from a non law degree and work to save and travel before a conversion. Might be fun to do that too.

It’s great that your son is thinking about what he wants to do later OP, the A levels he’s likely to choose will give him plenty of options for the future and when the time comes, I’d encourage him to look at course content closely before making his final uni choices. If he really enjoys history, he should look at history courses too and compare the modules with a law degree. History can also be a great foundation for a future career in law. All the best to your son with his choices!

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