Top cities to study law in the UK

By Olivier Guiberteau• Last updated: Nov 1, 2023
Top cities to study law in the UK
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Setting out on your path to a law degree can be both thrilling and overwhelming. It is a degree that is hugely rewarding in terms of job satisfaction and financial reward, but also one of the most complex out there. 

A career in law gives you the potential to leave a real mark on this world. Whether you’re interested in environmental, human rights or criminal law, it is a sector that offers huge personal reward to the right kind of person. 

But this is a famously difficult field to succeed in, and comes with a huge amount of hard work and dedication. If you have some questions already, why not take a look at  4 things students wish they knew before starting a law degree

Top cities to study law in the UK

In the UK, you’re spoilt for choice. Here are our picks for the best cities to study law in the UK:

  1. London
  2. Oxford
  3. Cambridge
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Exeter
  6. Nottingham
  7. Durham

1. London

It’s difficult to start anywhere else but the UK’s powerhouse capital, London. It is home to some of the best universities for law in the UK, including University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science and King’s College London among many others. 

Additionally, your opportunities after graduating are significantly better than anywhere else in the UK, with some of the most prestigious law firms in the world based in London. 

2. Oxford

Oxford is another huge favourite for law students, and it’s easy to see why. With the University of Oxford consistently ranking in the top five universities, not only in the UK but across the entire world, it is an almost unparalleled education. 

What’s more, Oxford remains one of the most charming cities in the UK and because of its central location, it can be a great base to look for jobs after university. And if you’re the kind of person that wants to have a well-known name on the CV - it doesn’t get any more well known than Oxford.    

3. Cambridge

If we had Oxford on the list, we had to include Cambridge too. The two universities have duelled at the top of rankings for as long as we can remember, and with law degrees, it’s no different. Cambridge is one of the best cities to study law in the UK, with its world-class University of Cambridge one of the finest institutions you are ever likely to find. 

Like Oxford, competition in Cambridge can be fierce, but if you’ve got what it takes, it is one of the best options out there.    

4. Edinburgh

North of the border is another city with a legendary status. Edinburgh is quite simply a fabulous city to live and study in and almost certainly the best place in Scotland to continue a law career once you finish - although their Glaswegian neighbours just down the road might have something to say about that. 

It’s impossible to escape the sense of history when you’re in Edinburgh and if you like the idea of being close to Scotland’s many dramatic landscapes, this could well be your ideal place to study law.  

5. Exeter

From the far north to the south-west, Exeter is quickly establishing itself as an excellent choice for university students looking for a cheaper option than the major cities or perhaps something just a bit different. And as you would have it, the University of Exeter currently ranks in the top 20 for the best universities for law in the UK 2021. 

A truly charming, small city that offers an alternative to others on this list. If you’re looking for a slower pace of life with some of Britain’s most picturesque spots right on your doorstep, then look no further than Exeter. 

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6. Nottingham 

Nottingham has gained a great reputation in recent decades. With one of the largest student populations in the UK, you’ll never be at loose end on a Friday night. 

There’s always a lot going on in Nottingham and it can be easy to forget that it also boasts one of the finest universities in the country with the University of Nottingham, currently ranked 12th for its law degree across the UK.

While it’s not a big city, Nottingham is large enough to offer plenty of opportunities for law graduates.

Plus, its central location in Britain means it’s a great spot to branch out from when the time comes to look for a job.    

7. Durham 

Last up is the historic northern city of Durham. This is a great option if you’re looking to do a law degree and your budget doesn’t quite stretch to some of the other more famous (and much more expensive) cities on this list. 

But make no mistake about it, Durham University is a phenomenal place to study and regularly ranks in or around the top 10 across the whole of the UK. Its law degree is no different and has been steadily climbing the rankings for years now.

If you’re on a budget but still looking for a world-class law degree situated in an area of Britain rarely visited by mass tourism, then Durham could be exactly what you’re looking for.    

If you’re looking to do a law degree, you’d do well to find a better place than the UK. It offers a wealth of options, ranging from the regal cities of Oxford and Cambridge, the bright lights of the mega-metropolis that is London, or the slower-paced vibe of Exeter and Durham. A law degree is a fascinating journey to be starting, but it all begins with that all-important question, of where.  

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Oli lives in London and is a writer and photographer.

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