King’s crowned top uni law faculty for research ahead of UCL, LSE and Oxbridge

Avatar photo

By Alex Aldridge on

The best — and the worst — university law schools for research have been revealed


King’s College has beaten off bitter London rivals UCL and LSE — not to mention Oxford and Cambridge — to top the official rankings of the best university law faculties for research.

LSE’s law school bags second place in the UK Research Excellence Framework list, which assesses the quality of research across all university departments in the UK to determine the allocation of around £2 billion in annual research funding.

Durham follows at third, with surprise strong-performer Ulster University coming in at fourth in a major boost to its prestige.

UCL, meanwhile, finds itself in fifth place for law, alongside York but above Cambridge, Leeds and Bristol. Oxford only manages tenth place, which it shares with Warwick and Sheffield.


Just outside the top ten comes a gaggle of big name university law schools including Cardiff, Edinburgh and Nottingham (see the rankings in full below).

However several prominent Russell Group players — which have traditionally prided themselves on their research capabilities — performed disappointingly. For example, Southampton and Newcastle could only manage 38th and 33rd place respectively. Liverpool (28th), Manchester (23rd) and Birmingham (21st) all probably should have done better too.

Given the poor performance of most of these outfits in the National Student Survey of teaching standards earlier this year, serious questions will now be asked about what exactly some of these Russell Groupers actually offer to students.

Still, it’s important to note that there have been questions raised about the research rankings’ methodology, with critics arguing that law schools’ strength in depth has not been properly rewarded. Ulster’s law faculty, for example, entered only 19 staff into its UK Research Excellence Framework submission, while Oxford entered 109 — yet the plucky Northern Irish upstart somehow managed to come out on top.

The top university law faculties for research: full list

1. King’s College London
2. LSE
3. Durham
4. Ulster
5. UCL
5. York
7. Cambridge
8. Leeds
9. Bristol
10. Oxford
10. Warwick
10. Sheffield
13. Cardiff
14. Edinburgh
15. Nottingham
15. Queen’s Belfast
17. Kent
18. Queen Mary
19. Exeter
20. Lancaster
21. Birmingham
21. UEA
23. Manchester
23. Glasgow
23. Birkbeck
26. Leicester
26. Essex
28. SOAS
28. Liverpool
30. Keele
31. Reading
32. Strathclyde
33. Newcastle
34. Dundee
35. Aberdeen
35. Middlesex
37. City
38. Southampton
39. Swansea
40. Sussex
40. Stirling
42. Aberystwyth
43. UEL
44. Surrey
45. Brunel
46. Westminster
46. Hull
48. Northumbria
48. Liverpool John Moores
50. De Monfort
51. UWE
52. Edge Hill
52. Nottingham Trent
54. Uclan
55. Bangor
56. Lincoln
57. Oxford Brookes
58. Birmingham City
59. Robert Gordon
60. Derby
61. Anglia Ruskin
62. Bedfordshire
63. Wolverhampton
64. Greenwich
65. Sunderland
65. Abertay
67. London Met

Rankings via the Times Higher Education Supplement.