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Choosing A-levels with a view to a law career?


You don't have to study law at A-level or equivalent for a career in law but  it can give you an understanding of whether you will be interested in this area of study or work.


Choosing A-levels

it is not a requirement to have studied law to progress onto a legal apprenticeship or a university degree course.  Although it can certainly give you an understanding of whether you will be interested in this area of study or work, it is not an essential stepping stone into a legal career.

Try before you buy!

Studying law is challenging, so why not do some free taster sessions to see if you like the subject first? The Open University Open Learn offers free taster sessions in various aspects of the law and we have highlighted some on our Career in Law page for you.

Ask your school to get involved in the Young Citizens' Mock Trials so you can experience what it's really like working as a legal professional in a court case!  Mock Trials are available as Magistrates' Court mock trials for 12-14 year olds and as Bar mock trials for 15-18 year olds.

For university

You don't have to do a degree in law to have a career in law, but If you think you would like to study law at undergraduate level, check with institutions you are interested in to see if they have a preference for or against particular A levels or equivalent qualifications.

Subjects that are useful tend to be ones that demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely, summarising information and articulating complex information or sides of a debate. As such, subjects such as English, history, politics will be useful, but subjects which demonstrate your analytical abilities such as Maths or science subjects can also be helpful.

Some institutions will not accept certain subjects as the main A levels or equivalents, so do check this before making your subject choices if you know you plan to study law at university.

If you want to study a non-law subject at undergraduate level, check with institutions you are interested in to see if they have a preference for or against particular subjects based on the subject you intend to study at university.

UCAS provides guidance on entry requirements for undergraduate law and non-law degrees.

For employment

If you intend to seek employment or apply for an apprenticeship straight after A levels or equivalents, check employer job adverts and apprenticeship adverts to see if employers have a preference for any particular qualifications.

Paralegal apprenticeship positions will often require 5 GCSEs (or equivalents) at grades A*-C/9-4 including maths and English. Some may also ask for 3 A-Levels (or equivalents) at grades A-C as essential, or desirable. Normally they do not specify particular subjects.

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After A levels (or equivalent)

Once you have completed your A levels or equivalent qualifications, there are a range of options available to you if you are keen to pursue a career in the law that don't all involve going to university.

Your school will be able to advise you when to choose undergraduate university courses and specific deadlines, but generally you will be expected to apply for undergraduate degrees between May of Year 12 (AS level year) and January of Year 13 (A level year) if you intend to start your course in the September/October after completing Year 13. The exception is for those applying to Oxford or Cambridge (or for specific non-law courses such as medicine). In these cases, the deadline is usually mid-October of Year 12 for courses starting in the following September/October. See UCAS for key dates.

Entry requirements for undergraduate law degrees vary, but UCAS indicates institutions will usually require a minimum of two A levels (or equivalent), with three A levels (or equivalents) needed for the most popular courses.

Entry requirements at A level range from BCC to AAA, with universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB. You will also require 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A*-C/9-4 including maths, English and, sometimes, science.

Be aware that, if you intend to ‘convert to law’ as a postgraduate after your undergraduate non-law degree, or undertake another postgraduate legal qualification that requires an undergraduate degree as part of the entry criteria, a good undergraduate degree result will help you obtain offers. 

Most institutions require a minimum of 2:2 class for further postgraduate study, but they will consider lower class degrees on an individual basis.

Useful resources

If you are in Year 12, lower sixth or S5 and meet certain eligibility requirements, you might be interested in the Aspiring Professionals programme run by the Social Mobility Foundation to help young people into university and professional life. Find out more about the Aspiring Professionals programme and how to apply.

Whether you are a school or university student, Zero Gravity is a tech platform offering a wealth of support to help you through university applications, job applications and career opportunities. Learn more about how Zero Gravity could help you build your future.