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The Oracle

Choosing A-level subjects: what do universities want?

updated on 23 June 2020

Dear Oracle

Does it matter which A-level subjects I choose if I want to go into law?

The Oracle replies

Surprising as it may seem, it is not necessary to study A-level law to undertake a law degree at university or begin a solicitor apprenticeship. If you are planning to apply to the more competitive universities, it may we worth focusing on ‘facilitating subjects’ for your A-level choices.

Facilitating subjects are a small group of A-level subjects that frequently appear in universities’ entry requirements for a wide range of degree subjects – including law. Choosing facilitating subjects keeps your options open and enables you to choose from many different universities and degree courses.

The facilitating A-level subjects are:

  • Sciences – biology, chemistry, physics
  • Mathematics
  • Languages (modern and classical)
  • Humanities – English, geography, history

Studying any of the above subjects will enable you to learn vital core skills that you can use in a variety of different careers.

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, it is a good idea to study at least one facilitating subject at A level. Some universities may specify A-level subjects they require (for example, English literature) while others look for a broad spread of subjects, so it’s worth checking for each university you are interested in applying to.

There are also many other rigorous and respected subjects to choose from which do not fall into the 'facilitating' category because not many university courses specifically require them. This gives you flexibility to choose a subject such as religious studies/philosophy or music, if that is one of your interests.

Don’t choose subjects just to impress admissions tutors. You are likely to do much better in subjects that you enjoy.

Achieving good grades at A level is important if you to want to become a lawyer. Law is an intellectually demanding career, so law firms and barristers chambers often have very high minimum academic requirements for applicants. Aim for As and Bs. This also means that it is far preferable to get As and Bs in three subjects then Bs and Cs in four, so don't give yourself too much to handle.

Finally, it's great that you are thinking about your career at an early stage. You've got a head start over some of the competition, so take full advantage – start now with your research into the profession and try to gain some work experience in law firms and/or sets of chambers. To help start off your research, read LawCareers.Net’s Beginner's Guide to a Career in Law.