Saturday 16 November 2019

Should you study A Level Law, if you want to take a Law Degree?

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

{Collaborative Post}

I can hardly believe I have a 16-year-old son; time really does pass very quickly. We’ve just done the rounds of the local colleges for him to choose where he wants to go on to next and I realise we are very lucky as he made a decision quickly and feels sure of the courses he wants to do.

JJ has always been academic and the STEM subjects come easily to him, so it was no surprise when he put his application in for Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science and Law. We’re not sure if he’ll be taking three or four A levels as yet, this will be decided at his college interview in December.

I was keen for him to do four. I think it was just so I could be a proud mum, with a really bright son. However, when we did some investigating, it turns out that all the uni’s only look for results in three subjects, and they’d far rather the applicant had three seriously good results than four OK ones. We then noticed that where Further Maths is taken the college normally advocate a fourth subject, so we’ll just see what the college says and take their advice, they have done this many more times than us.

When I asked JJ what he was intending to do at Uni with the A levels he has taken, he told me he doesn’t know as yet. For him, it will depend on what he enjoys studying most at college and where he gets the best results. I think it’s great that he is open-minded and has so many different things that he enjoys, so he can be open about his future career direction.

I don’t think there was ever any doubt that JJ wouldn’t take A levels in Maths and computer science, these are the subjects he’s predicted a grade 8 or 9 in and he can do without much thought or any revision.

Law, however, was a surprise to me when he first mentioned it but I suppose it makes sense, he is a committed Police cadet, he used to be part of the courtroom drama club at school and has competed in mock trials for his school. I suppose, by far the biggest indicator that studying law might suit him is that as far as he is concerned everything in life is black or white. There is no grey.

When you trawl the Internet, speak to a law lecturer at a university or seek guidance from a firm of criminal lawyers it appears that A level law is looked upon as a soft subject, one that is not as academically robust as others such as maths or a core science. However, for JJ as he’ll be combining his law A level along with Maths and Further Maths I think that will speak volumes of his academic rigour.

Pro’s for taking law at A-Level
  • It’s a good opportunity to try out the subject and see if you really do enjoy it and want to study it longer term for a legal career.
  • It’s a great subject for helping you to learn transferable skills like public speaking, reading, writing and memory skills.
  • You’ll gain a good grounding in how the legal system works in the UK and also knowledge of frequently used legal terms
  • You’ll be prepared for having to remember all the case law at degree-level study
  • It may give you an increased confidence level for when you start your law degree

Con’s for taking law at A-Level
  • Many university admissions officers will only consider an A level subject like law, politics, economics or media studies alongside at least one, if not two facilitating subjects (the core academic ones – sciences, Maths, English, Geography, History or a language)
  • Many Universities will tell you to unlearn all the things you learn at A level, as they want you to start from the beginning in their style, as a blank canvas for them to mould and teach.

Ultimately the decision is yours and each person has to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves. If you have your heart set on one of the elite or Russell Group universities then it may be wise to choose a harder, more academic subject, like those known as the facilitating subjects. My son, he still feels quite happy to undertake law at A level even having heard the arguments. 

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