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There are several Law degrees you can choose from. Then, you’ll have to decide which area of Law you want to pursue. 

But that’s the thing. Choosing a law degree can be a difficult decision. Especially because each choice has its pros and cons. 

Hence why university tutors teach our Law summer school students about the core branches of Law. And helps you understand which one you resonate with. This ensures you’ll have the courage you need to succeed in your dream careers. 

This article will help give you a more precise direction on where you want to go in the field of Law. 

Types of Undergraduate Law Degrees You Can Study in the UK

Undergraduate Law LLB

Do you want the fastest route to becoming a lawyer? Take the undergraduate Law LLB. If you take this undergraduate degree, you can immediately proceed to take either

  • SQE (Solicitor Qualifying Exam) to become a solicitor
  • or Bar Practice Course (BPC) to become a barrister

If you choose any other course, you’ll have to undergo an extra year for a Law conversion course.

What’s the Undergraduate Law LLB degree? It’s a focused degree program designed to provide students with the professional legal skills and knowledge required to practice in the legal field. Hence why, it’s known as the “Qualifying” Law Degree.

“LLB” stands for ‘Legum Baccalaureus’, Latin for ‘Bachelor of Laws’. This type of degree focuses on providing an understanding of the 7 Foundations of Legal Knowledge, including

  • Criminal Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Public Law (Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law, and Administrative Law)
  • Land Law
  • Tort Law
  • Contract Law
  • European Law

Undergraduate Law BA

Are you looking to gain a more well-rounded understanding of the law? Then an Undergraduate Law BA degree might be right for you.

The Undergraduate Law BA is a well-rounded degree as opposed to “focused.” Why? Because, unlike Law LLB, it’s not a qualifying Law degree. This means if you decide to become a solicitor or barrister after completing it, you’ll have to take a Law conversion course, including

  • SQE Preparation Course – Law conversion course for solicitors
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) – Law conversion course for barristers

The Law BA’s well-roundedness allows you to study the core principles and foundations of legal knowledge and explore related areas such as

  • Politics
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology

Why is it a popular degree choice even if it’s not qualifying? Because of its flexibility. It’s best for students who are

  • More interested in the academic side of Law (rather than the vocational side of becoming a Lawyer) and want to pursue Law-academic-related careers.
  • Still trying to figure out if they want to be a Lawyer or use their Law degree for other careers, such as journalism and politics.

The BA stands for ‘Baccalaureus Artium’, Latin for ‘Bachelor of Arts.” This type of degree enables students to go further into the political and social structures that influence the Law rather than just studying the legal rules themselves.

This type of degree also provides an excellent foundation for postgraduate study in areas such as

  • Human Rights
  • International Law
  • Legal Theory

Undergraduate Joint Law LLB/BA with Languages

Are you looking for a degree program that combines Law and Language? Perhaps you enjoyed your A-Level in a Modern Language. Or you want to be more competitive in the market by knowing more than one major language.

Then the Joint Law LLB/BA with Languages is perfect for you. This type of degree allows you to study Law while also learning one more language, such as

  • French
  • German
  • Spanish, and more.

Aside from learning the language, you’ll also learn about its surrounding political history, culture, and philosophical ideas.

How long does it usually last? Four years. Most universities offer a study abroad option to immerse you in foreign legal systems.

What are the significant advantages of taking Law + Modern Language joint course?

  • Increase your competitiveness in the job market
  • You’ll be preferred by international firms
  • Better insight into international business
  • You’ll gain multi-lingual communication skills

Undergraduate Joint Law LLB/BA with Other Subjects

Are you looking for a degree program combining Law with another academic subject? The Joint Law LLB/BA with Other Subjects offers the perfect opportunity to do so.

This type of degree allows you to study Law while also learning about an additional subject, such as

  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Business
  • Sociology
  • Criminology

This will give you a more diverse educational background, which can be useful for finding a job. You’ll also gain an understanding of different industries and how they interact with Law.

For instance, do you want to have a successful career in Business? Completing a Law & Business joint degree gives you a decisive edge over the competition. And it’ll be easier for you to accelerate to more senior positions, especially if you perform well.

Why is it such a huge advantage? Because you’ll have a deeper understanding of how commerce relates to the legal system. You don’t only understand business operations. But you also understand legal responsibility.

What’s more, should you want to become a Lawyer, it’ll be easier for you than those who didn’t take a Law degree.

Types of Postgraduate Law Degrees You Can Study in the UK

If you want to be a lawyer after completing your undergraduate degree? If so, you’ll have to decide if you wish to become a solicitor or barrister. Why? Because the postgraduate Law degree you’ll have to take depends on your chosen path.

So, what’s the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

A solicitor is an employed lawyer who typically works in private practice and advises clients on their legal rights. On the other hand, barristers are usually referred to as ‘advocates’ and are often self-employed. Solicitors hire barristers to represent their clients in court cases.

Law Conversion Course for Aspiring Solicitors: SQE Preparation Course (Postgraduate)

You didn’t take an LLB undergraduate degree, but you’re looking to become a solicitor in the UK. If this is you, you’ll need to take the SQE (Solicitor Qualifying Exam) Preparation Course.

The SQE is a recent introduction. It replaced the LPC (Legal Practice Course) in September 2021. For what purpose? To make solicitor training more accessible to aspiring trainees from all sorts of backgrounds.

By passing the SQE, you can become a qualified solicitor in the UK. But if you didn’t take an LLB beforehand, you’ll find SQE difficult to pass. So to take sufficient preparation, it’s best to undergo the SQR Preparation course.

However, such is the flexibility of SQE that you can self-study rather than go for the SQE Preparation Course if you so wish.

So, choose what’s best for you. But remember that if you have the financial resources, going through a course optimises your chances of passing.

Law Conversion Course for Aspiring Barristers: Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)

If you want to become a barrister, the main course of study is the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL). It offers you an intensive full-time, one-year program in legal studies. Or part-time, two-year program if you want more flexibility in your schedule.

What does PGDL cover? The 7 Foundations of Legal Knowledge found in the LLB undergraduate course

  • Criminal Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Public Law (Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law, and Administrative Law)
  • Land Law
  • Tort Law
  • Contract Law
  • European Law

Once you complete the PGDL, you can move on to the Bar Practice Course (BPC.)

Bar Practice Course (BPC)

The Bar Practice Course go by several names, such as

  • Bar Training Course (BTC)
  • Bar Vocational Studies (BVS)
  • Bar Vocational Course (BVC) 

Which name is used depends on the course provider. 

What’s the BPC all about? It’s a postgraduate course necessary to qualify you for pupillage. The pupillage is the final leg of the journey to becoming a solicitor. 

What knowledge and skills do you learn from the BPC? Here are some of the few: 

  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Legal Research
  • Professional Ethics
  • Conferencing 
  • Advocacy (primarily through mock trials)
  • Drafting
  • Opinion Writing

What universities offer BPC?

  • Cardiff University
  • City, University of London
  • BPP
  • Northumbria University
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The Inns of Court College of Advocacy
  • The University of Law
  • University of the West of England

Now that you know the different types of Law Degrees to study, how do you decide which one is for you? Here’s a brief table to help you decide

Law DegreeWhy It May Be The Right Choice For You
Undergraduate Law LLBYou know you want to become a lawyerAnd you want the fastest route (only 3 years if taken full-time.)
Undergraduate Law BAUnsure if you want to become a lawyerWant to explore other career options (e.g. journalism, politics)Perhaps more interested in the Academic side of Law than the vocational side.
Undergraduate Joint Law LLB/BA with LanguagesYou relate with the following (or any number of the following:)Enjoy studying Languages and their associated culture, philosophy, and political historyWant to Increase your competitiveness in the job marketBe preferred by international firmsHave a better insight into international businessGain multi-lingual communication skills
Undergraduate Joint Law LLB/BA with Other SubjectsYou want a more diverse educational backgroundBecause it’ll help expand your career optionsAnd you’ll have a deeper insight into how different industries interact with Law
SQE Preparation Course (Postgraduate)You didn’t complete an LLB undergraduate degreeAnd you want to become a solicitor
Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)You didn’t complete an LLB undergraduate degreeAnd you want to become a barrister
Bar Practice Course (BPC)You want to become a barrister

You now have a more grounded idea of the different types of Law degrees and which one you may want to pursue. Let’s proceed to the various areas of Law. 

Should you want to become a Lawyer, which areas of Law would you like to specialise in?

Which Area of Law Would You Specialise In? 

Admiralty law (a.k.a Maritime)

The Admiralty Law is concerned with private maritime business matters, such as

  • Shipments on open water
  • Ship-related insurance claims
  • Piracy
  • Issues that may arise among seafarers and passengers

Banking Law

How should financial institutions (e.g. banks) conduct their business according to laws and regulations? Lawyers specialising in Banking Law help create and enforce rules regulating the banking industry. 

What are some of the issues Banking Lawyers deal with?

  • Prevent bank misuse (i.e. money laundering)
  • Give consumers transaction transparency
  • Ensures consumer confidentiality
  • Lowers banking risks for customers
  • Regulates credit card agreements for consumer fairness
  • Prevent unjust loans
  • Protects banks from terrorism

Business Law (a.k.a. Commercial Law)

One of the many reasons to study business law is that it supervises interactions between entities in business matters. For what purpose?

  • Resolve compensation issues
  • Safeguard shareholders’ rights
  • Establish business according to rules and regulations
  • Protect employee rights and benefits
  • Settle bankruptcy

Constitutional Law

What protects the rights of the state and its citizens? The Constitutional Law. What are some of the common cases involving Constitutional Law?

  • Right to vote
  • Right to due process
  • Right to assembly
  • Right to bear arms
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to be free from forced search
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion

A Constitutional Lawyer’s main job is interpreting the Constitution in various applications.

Construction Law

What area of Law deals with 

  • Housing
  • Infrastructure
  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • and Planning Permissions?

The answer is Construction Law!

Contract Law

What’s a contract? A contract is a legally enforceable agreement or arrangement between/among the parties. So, what does a Contract Lawyer do?

  • Drafts, reviews, and creates contracts
  • Interpret contracts for clients
  • Advises clients on what they should do next based on the contract
  • Negotiates contracts
  • Deals with contractual disputes

Corporate Law

Corporate Law is a set of laws concerned with forming and operating legal entities, such as corporations, that exist to do business. Why does Corporate Law exist? To make it easier for people to run companies.

Here are some of the responsibilities of Corporate Lawyers:

  • Writes contracts for corporations
  • Helps corporations avoid lawsuits
  • Takes care of all legal papers
  • Governs sale and distribution of goods
  • Protects investors’ rights

Criminal Law

This is one of the most popular types of Law often depicted in series and movies. A “crime” is a violation of the Law. So Criminal Law handles crime cases and the punishment of criminals.

What does a Criminal Lawyer do?

  • Represents defendants during criminal prosecution
  • Provides clients with advice on their next steps
  • Reviews documentation regarding the case, such as police reports and medical records
  • Researches and investigates to build up the case
  • Creates an accurate, persuasive, and gripping defence for the accused

Employment Law

What’s the type of Law that governs the employer-employee relationship? Employment Law. It tackles issues such as:

  • Wages
  • Discrimination
  • Workplace safety
  • Wrongful termination 

An Employment Lawyer often specialises in protecting the rights of either employers or employees. Rarely both.

Environmental Law

Regulates how human beings should and should not interact with their environment. It governs:

  • Who can use natural resources
  • In what way parties can use natural resources they have access to
  • Pollution
  • Forest protection
  • Animal population
  • Mineral harvesting

Equity and Trusts Law

The Equity and Trusts Law deals with building, implementing, and regulating trusts. So what’s a “trust?” It’s a relationship wherein one person (trustee) takes care of a property or asset for the benefit of another (beneficiary.)

A trustee can also hold properties and assets for charitable purposes. What are the categories of trusts?

  • Living Trust – the trustee handles affairs of the trust, then transfers the property or asset to the beneficiary when the grantor dies. 
  • Revocable/Irrevocable Trust – the grantor can change or terminate a revocable trust during their lifetime. But an irrevocable trust cannot be altered once settled.
  • Funded/Unfunded Trust – A funded trust contains assets. But if the assets fail to be transferred into the trust, then it becomes an “unfunded trust.”

EU Law

Do you know that the EU Law (a.k.a. European Union Law) overrides National Law? This means that proposed national laws from any of the 28 member countries of the EU cannot pass if they contradict any of the EU laws.

What are the types of EU Law?

  • Treaties – fundamental laws dictate how the EU functions and its relationship with its member states.
  • Regulations – apply to all member states and become integrated into their respective national laws. 
  • Directives – set the goals that member states should accomplish before a deadline. They are free to choose how to go about achieving them. 
  • Decisions – is only applicable to a particular body (e.g. country, organisation)
  • Recommendations & Opinions – are suggestions, so to speak. Member states can choose to follow them or not. 

Family Law

What’s the area of Law that involves familial relationships? Family Law. Here are the common issues concerning Family Law:

  • Divorce – the to-be-separated spouses will need assistance determining spousal support and dividing marital assets.
  • Child Custody – when parents divorce, how will each support their child?
  • Paternity – concerns getting support from an absent father or for a father to be granted access to their child.
  • Adoption – a family lawyer can make adoption more straightforward, especially in settling the child’s background.

Health Care Law

The Health Care Law regulates the Health Care industry, including:

  • Health Care Providers (e.g. acute care centres, nursing homes)
  • Hospital Systems
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
  • Health Insurers 
  • Individual Practitioners

Health Care Law in the UK heavily involves the NHS in many cases. Specifically concerning clinical negligence.

Intellectual Property (IP) Law

Who does the Intellectual Property Law primarily protect? Creators and owners of

  • Writing
  • Designs
  • Music
  • Inventions

These “creations” are more formally known as “Intellectual Property (IP).” What are the different areas of IP?

  • Copyright 
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Trade Secrets

Insurance Law

What’s Insurance Law? It governs the Insurance Industry by

  • Managing insurance contracts
  • Regulating how they are enforced
  • Overseeing transactional processes
  • Ensuring insurance companies remain fair in pricing
  • Inducing penalties for bad practices

Common types of (private) Insurance include:

  • Life Insurance
  • Automobile Liability Insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Title Insurance
  • Malpractice Insurance

Land Law (a.k.a. Real Property Law)

Land Law oversees Land-related issues, such as

  • Land ownership
  • Land use
  • Ownership rights and titles
  • Lease
  • Easements
  • Disputes (e.g. boundary, ownership transfer)

Litigation Law 

What area of Law deals with disputes? Litigation Law. Parties engage in Litigation Law when they cannot reach a common agreement. Meaning the case cannot be “settled.” And the wronged party files a lawsuit.

What does a Litigation Lawyer do?

  • Investigates by reviewing the client’s documents
  • Drafts pleadings
  • Creates discovery requests to further uncover facts
  • Recommends settlement offers
  • Explains legal proceedings to the client

Media Law

Media Law regulates Media communications, including

  • Print Media (e.g. magazines, newspapers)
  • Telecommunications (e.g. radio, television)
  • Digital Communications 

Some of the common issues Media Lawyers encounter are:

  • Defamation
  • Right to privacy
  • Slander

Private Client Law

Private Client Law involves private legal matters, such as

  • Investments
  • Wills
  • Taxation
  • Probate
  • Trusts
  • Wealth Management

It’s worth noting that private clients are often wealthy and have numerous assets to care for, distribute, and protect. Charities are also frequent clients. 

What do Private Client Lawyers do?

  • Drafts and enforces wills
  • Disburses properties/assets
  • Helps clients grow their wealth
  • Ensure tax laws are implemented

Public Law

What are the “public bodies?” Government entities. Public Law governs how public bodies conduct themselves. Ensuring they respect the human rights of their constituents. 

What are some of the sub-divisions of Public Law?

  • Constitutional Law
  • Tax Law
  • Administrative Law

In a nutshell, Public Law regulates the relationship between the individual and the government.

Sports Law

Sports Law encompasses the areas of Law that affect sports. For instance, when a player signs a playing agreement, what type of Law is involved? Contract Law. 

Who are the usual players included in Sports Law?

  • Professional athletes (e.g. Olympic players, NBA players)
  • College athletes
  • Coaches
  • Sponsors

What are the different types of Sports Law?

  • Contract Law
  • Trademark Law
  • Personal Injury Law
  • Employment Law

Tax Law

What does Tax Law govern? The tax process involving the government charging taxes on

  • Transactions
  • Income
  • Property
  • Estates
  • Licenses 

What do Tax Lawyers do?

  • Conduct legal research to stay up to date with the ever-changing tax processes
  • Draft documents (e.g. tax forms, wills)
  • Handle tax disputes
  • Represent clients in court related to tax issues
  • Advise clients on tax systems and processes

Tort law

Tort Law deals with one thing: civil suits, except contractual disputes (i.e. disputes involving contracts.) The goal of Tort Law is to redress or provide compensation for a wrong. The three major divisions of Tort Law are:

  • Negligence – done harm by failure to exercise reasonable care (e.g. accidents)
  • Intentional Harm – willful misconduct with the intention of harming another (e.g. assault, theft)
  • Strict Liability – the person who caused harm is held accountable regardless of intent or mental state

How do You Decide Which Area of Law to Pursue?

By diving head first into Law School. It’ll be challenging to decide which area of Law to pursue if you haven’t studied Law at the university. Why? Because there’s so much more to know and experience before you can make a proper decision.

The first thing you’ll have to do is decide which Law degree to go for. And then, as you explore the legal sphere, you’ll naturally gravitate towards the area of Law that interests you most. 

What’s essential is that you’ve had a glimpse of the various areas of Law. So you’ll have an introductory look at the vastness of the legal world. For you to realize that there’s plenty of room for you

There you have it! You’re now better aware of the different Law areas and degrees. Do you need more personalised guidance? We got you covered. Check out our Law Summer School to experience Law at the university level.

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