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What A-Levels Do You Need to Study Law?

What A-Levels Do You Need to Study Law?

9 min Read|April 13 2024
|Written by:

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa


If you're considering a career in law, it's essential to know the A-Level requirements to be accepted to study this degree. Law is one of the most competitive subjects to study, and universities have specific entry requirements.

To be accepted into a law degree program, you need a minimum of three A-Levels. However, not all A-Levels are created equal, and some are more suited to law than others. Many universities may not have specific a-level subject requirements but rather have grade requirements for the subjects you do study:

Top UK universities to study law alongside A-level requirements and entrance test needed

Top UK universities to study law alongside A-level requirements and entrance test needed

Some universities may have recommendations on the type of A-level subjects they prefer. For example, Oxford expressly states that subjects that involve essay writing are beneficial for students wishing to pursue a law degree.

In this article, we'll be discussing what A-Levels you need to study law, the type of knowledge required for a law degree, misconceptions about A-Levels, and alternatives to A-Levels for studying law.

So, whether you're a high school student or a parent of one, read on to find out more. For broader guidance on how to select your A-level subjects, read our complete guide on choosing your A-Levels.

Why A-Levels matter for studying Law

A-Levels are the foundation of higher education in the UK and play a critical role in getting into a good university. The A-Level qualifications you choose can significantly impact your chances of gaining admission into a law degree program.

A-Levels also give you a good foundation of the essential skills required for studying law, such as critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to communicate effectively. Law is a highly competitive field, and universities want to see that you have the required skills and knowledge before they offer you a place. Without A-Levels, you may be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants.

It is worth noting that universities' requirements can differ, and the entry requirements can vary depending on the university and the course. It is essential to do your research and find out what A-Levels are required for the universities and courses you're interested in.

Professional online tutors recommend that in order to maximise your chances of being admitted into a law degree program, you should choose A-Level subjects that are relevant to law and complement each other. Below is an overview of the most popular A-level subjects offered by Cambridge International and their participation rates:

A-level participation in the UK by subject

A-level participation in the UK by subject

For more information, read our article on the best A-Level combinations.

Recommended A-Levels for Law

There are no specific A-levels that are essential to study law but there are certain A-levels that are advantageous when it comes to applying for this degree. Here are the top three recommendations from A-Level law tutors:

1. A-Level English Literature or Language - Law is a language-based degree that involves reading and writing extensive pieces of work. Strong skills in written and oral communication is critical.

2. A-Level Maths - While not directly related to the study of law, mathematics is essential in understanding legal reasoning, economics, and financial aspects of law. Law schools appreciate students with a solid foundation in mathematics.

3. A-Level History - History provides valuable knowledge on how the legal system has evolved over time and how it has influenced society. It also helps students to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.

Recommended Facilitating A-level Subjects for Law

Should you wish to substitute one of the subjects above or study four A-levels, there are certain facilitating subjects that you could add or switch out. Facilitating subjects are useful for your application to study law based on how you position them in your application. You should explain how they have better equipped you to study this degree. It is important to achieve a high grade in these facilitating subjects in order for them to positively contribute to your application to study law.

Here are the recommended facilitating subjects by expert A-Level tutors:

1. A-Level Sciences - While it is not recommended to do more than one of the sciences such as A-Level Chemistry, A-Level Biology or A-Level Physics, completing one of them successfully will highlight your ability to problem solve and think logically; skills that are important for studying law.

2. A-Level Politics - UK politics have evolved considerably over time and these changes have had an impact on the legal system. Having A-levels in Politics will give students a good foundation for the start of their degree as they will already have context to the relationship between UK law and politics.

3. A-Level Languages - Learning a second language requires considerable dedication and a conscientious attitude. While a second language for A-levels isn't needed to study law, getting a good grade for this kind of subject displays a certain level of commitment and dedication.

4. A-Level Economics or A-Level Business Studies - These subjects provide an understanding of commercial law and how the legal system operates in the business world. This is particularly useful for students wanting to focus on commercial electives when studying law.

5. A-Level Psychology and A-Level Sociology - Psychology and Sociology are also useful subjects, as they can help Law students understand how society operates and how people interact with the law.

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A-level subject combinations for Law

Making the final decision on the right combination of A-levels to study can be daunting. Here are a few examples of our recommended subject combinations for studying law at the undergraduate level:

1. English Literature, History, and Politics - This combination provides a strong foundation in critical thinking, persuasive writing, and analysis of complex issues, all of which are key skills in the field of law.

2. Mathematics, Economics, and Psychology - This combination is ideal for those interested in specialising in areas such as commercial law, intellectual property law or criminal justice. A good understanding of economics is particularly helpful in these fields.

3. Modern Foreign Languages, History, and Religious Studies - This combination is particularly useful for students interested in international law or human rights law. Knowledge of other cultures and languages can also be an asset in this field.

4. English Literature, History, and Law - English Literature develops analytical and communication skills through the study of complex texts, which is a valuable asset in legal studies. History provides an understanding of the evolution of legal systems and the social, political, and economic contexts in which they developed. A-Level Law itself covers the foundational concepts of law and the English legal system.

5. Economics, History, and Law - A-Level Economics will help students understand the economic principles underlying business and legal issues, while History will provide a broad historical perspective on the development of law and legal systems. These skills are particularly useful for students interested in commercial law or international law, where an understanding of economics and history is essential.

It's important to note that while certain combinations may be more directly related to the study of law, there is no one "right" set of A-levels for pursuing a career in the field. Ultimately, it's most important to choose subjects that you enjoy and are likely to excel in, as this will enable you to achieve the best possible grades and pursue your chosen career path with confidence.

A-Levels subject choices for specific Law Specialisations

A law degree can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities as shown below:

What can I do with a law degree

What can I do with a law degree?

Law degrees often offer the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of law, and there are many A-Level subjects that can help prepare you for these specialisations. For example, if you are interested in criminal law, A-Levels in law, sociology, and psychology may be particularly useful.

If you are interested in family law, A-Levels in law, sociology, and psychology may also be helpful, as well as history and philosophy. For those interested in commercial law, A-Levels in economics, business studies, and mathematics may be particularly useful.

Admissions Tests for Law

There are two main admissions tests that are commonly used for studying law in the UK: the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) and the Cambridge Law Test. The LNAT is used by several universities, including Oxford and University College London, and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section that assesses reading comprehension and critical thinking, and an essay section that evaluates candidates’ ability to construct persuasive arguments.

The Cambridge Law Test is used exclusively by the University of Cambridge and assesses a candidate’s ability to analyse legal problems and apply legal principles. Both tests require significant preparation and practice to do well including hiring the help of an LNAT tutor, but they are an important part of the admissions process for studying law in the UK.

Common Misconceptions about A-Levels to study Law

There are several misconceptions about A-Level subject choices for a law degree. One of the most common myths is that you must have a background in law or take law-related A-Levels to pursue a law degree. However, this is not true. Law schools in the UK are looking for students who have the necessary analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. As we have discussed earlier, these skills can be developed through various A-Level subjects such as English Literature, History, Economics, or even Mathematics.

A professional A-Level Maths tutor said:

"As an A-Level Maths tutor, I tell students that studying Mathematics is a great choice if they want to study law. Math helps you develop skills like problem-solving, logical thinking, and analysis, which are all important for law school. Law schools like students who can think clearly and solve difficult problems, and Math is perfect for building these skills. This makes it a strong subject to prepare for the challenges of studying law."

Another common misconception is that you must achieve straight A*s to get into a good law school. While it is essential to achieve good grades, law schools also consider other factors such as personal statements, extracurricular activities, and work experience.

In order to perform well in your A-Levels, it is recommended to utilise the top A-Level resources such as the following:

Alternatives to A-Levels for studying Law

While A-Levels are the most common route to getting into university, they are not the only option for studying law. There are alternative qualifications that you can take that are recognised by law schools, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Cambridge Pre-U.

The IB Diploma Program is recognised in the UK and globally as a high-quality, rigorous qualification that prepares students for university study. According to a report by The Complete University Guide, 86% of law schools in the UK accept the IB Diploma Program as an entry qualification.

Another alternative to A-Levels is the Cambridge Pre-U, which is an advanced-level qualification that is similar to the A-Level. Law schools in the UK recognise the Cambridge Pre-U as a suitable qualification for studying law. According to a report by the University of Law, 25% of law schools in the UK accept the Cambridge Pre-U as an entry qualification.

It's important to note that these alternative qualifications are not necessarily easier than A-Levels and require significant effort and commitment. It's recommended to research the requirements of the law schools and courses you're interested in and choose the qualification that best suits your strengths and interests.

In addition to alternative qualifications, some law schools offer foundation courses for students who don't have the necessary A-Level qualifications to gain entry to a law degree program. These foundation courses provide an introduction to legal concepts and skills, as well as an opportunity to develop the necessary academic skills required for university study.

Final Thoughts

In summary, to study law at a university in the UK, you will typically need to have at least three A-levels, including one in a subject that is considered essential, such as English, History, or Maths.

Other A-levels that can be useful for studying law include Economics, Languages, and Science subjects. The choice of A-level subjects may also depend on the specialisation within law that the student is interested in pursuing.

Ultimately, the most important factor is to choose subjects that you enjoy and can excel in. It is also important to research the entry requirements of specific universities and law courses to ensure that you are taking the appropriate A-level subjects.


What A levels do you need to study law at Oxford?

There are no specific A-level subjects needed to study law at Oxford but they specifically recommend studying subjects that involve essay writing such as History. Developing this skill will certainly help when embarking on a legal career as being able to explain and develop complex concepts in writing will form part of your degree.

What A levels do you need to study law at Cambridge?

There are no specific A-level subjects required to study law at Cambridge but they have provided recommendations on the combinations that best equip a student wanting to apply for Law. These combinations are:

  • English Literature, History, Politics
  • English Literature, History, Religious Studies
  • English Literature, French, History
  • English Literature, History, Psychology
  • English Literature, Politics, Mathematics

How long is a law degree in the UK?

A law degree typically takes three years to complete in the UK if studied full-time. Certain institutions offer an Accelerated LLB that makes it possible to complete the qualification in two years.

Do you need to take A-Level law to study law at university?

Although Law is offered for A-levels, it is not a requirement to study law at university. However, studying law prior to your undergraduate degree will give you the advantage of starting your degree with a foundational knowledge of the UK legal system.

What GCSEs do you need to be a lawyer?

To become a lawyer in the UK, you typically need at least five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English language and maths. However, to increase your chances of being accepted into a reputable law program, it is recommended that you achieve the highest grades possible in a range of subjects. Law firms and universities also consider extracurricular activities, work experience, and volunteering when evaluating candidates for law programs.

Do law firms look at GCSEs and A-Levels?

Yes, law firms do consider both GCSE and A-Level grades when assessing candidates for employment or work experience opportunities. While A-Level grades are typically considered more important than GCSE grades, strong GCSE results can still be an advantage in the competitive legal job market. Good grades in English and Maths are particularly important, as they demonstrate strong literacy and numeracy skills, which are essential for success in the legal profession.

What skills do you need to become a lawyer?

To become a lawyer, there are several skills that are essential. Firstly, you need to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to listen actively, speak persuasively, and write coherently. You also need strong analytical and critical thinking skills, including the ability to identify and solve complex problems. Attention to detail is crucial, as is the ability to work well under pressure, prioritise tasks and meet tight deadlines.

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Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Written by: Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Oxford University - PhD Mathematics

Rahil spent ten years working as private tutor, teaching students for GCSEs, A-Levels, and university admissions. During his PhD he published papers on modelling infectious disease epidemics and was a tutor to undergraduate and masters students for mathematics courses.

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