Oxbridge takes top honours in latest law faculty league table

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London’s Queen Mary trails a distant third in newspaper list, while a barrel-load of Russell Group big names disappoints


Moan about elitism ‘til the cows come home, but Oxbridge has done it again — taking the top two slots on a leading league table of law schools released earlier this morning.

Cambridge wins top honours. In pipping rivals Oxford, the light blues arguably benefitted from concentrating all efforts into one law course, while the dark blues’ faculty is currently spread over six courses.

While Cambridge and Oxford were clear winners, the list will trigger fulminating anger at some big name law faculties, not least Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton and Warwick universities.

The ancients were battling for top places in a league table produced by the newspaper of choice of many a tweed-jacketed, leather elbow patched lecturer at more modern institutions, The Guardian.

In the newspaper’s annual assessment of UK universities, the Cambridge law course comprehensively outstripped its closest rival. In a Eurovision-style points system, the Cam-siders bagged a maximum 100 points, while that lot at the top of the Cowley Road managed an overall score of only 93.1.

However, both law faculties nailed the same student satisfaction rating of 96. There also wasn’t much in it between the scores for teaching assessment: Cambridge bagged a 95.8 rating, while Oxford scored 94.5.

But Cambridge pulled ahead in the feedback category, beating Oxford by a rating of 80.4 to 73.7.

And crucially, a Cambridge law degree proved a much more valuable boost to career prospects than an equivalent from Oxford. Some 91% of graduates of the former found graduate-level jobs or were studying further within six months of graduation, while that figure for the latter was 84%.

Cambridge won despite Oxford throwing more staff at fewer students. The student-to-staff ratio at Oxford was much better than at Cambridge — 11.4 compared to 15.1.

Trailing considerably behind the top two was London University’s Queen Mary law school, which received an overall rating of 85 points from a possible 100. And Queen Mary’s employability figure was woefully behind the top two at just 66%.

Rounding out the top five were Durham on 84.5 points and the London School of Economics on 84.1. They racked up employability figures of 84% and 85%, respectively.

The highest placed university from outside the Russell Group was the law school at Aberdeen University, which ranked a respectable 11th on 77.7 points, with an employability figure of 84.

The highest placed former polytechnic — or “new university” — was the law school at Edinburgh Napier, which placed 13th on 76.3 points, but no employability figure was listed.

The big name losers on The Guardian league table are likely to be considered as Exeter University. Its well-respected law school finished in the bottom half of the table, in 54th place with just 64 points.

But Liverpool University’s law faculty did not fare much better — finishing only three positions higher on 64.3 points.

Other bruised egos include Bristol University in 31st position and 69.3 points, Leeds in 29th (70.1), Southampton in 27th (70.2), Warwick in 26th (71), Birmingham in 25th (70.2) and Manchester in 24th (71.5).

Several law faculties seemed to come from out of the blue to feature fairly high on the list. For example, the law school at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen clocked in at 12th place on 77.6 points, and former poly Oxford Brookes placed a respectable 16th on 74.9.

The two law faculties with the lowest employability figures were those at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of the West of Scotland, which both came in on 34%.

Propping up the bottom of the table of those law faculties actually ranked was Southampton Solent University, which racked up an overall rating of 31.9 points; however, it did manage an employability figure of 55%.

And while the Cambridge law dons will be tempted to get absolutely hammered on the fizz this evening, they should bear in mind that they were still pipped in the QS world rankings — updated at the beginning of last month — by Harvard.

The Bostonians racked up a QS rating of 99.8, while Cambridge managed only 96.7, with Oxford in third place on 96.




Actually, UEA is the highest non-Russell group uni.


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

Is anyone actually suggesting that Edinburgh Napier and Coventry are better universities than Bristol? For that matter, is anyone really suggesting that Southampton is a better university than Bristol? It would be nice if this was truly a symptom of formerly bad universities bucking up their ideas, but in reality we know that the wild year-on-year fluctuations in rankings cannot possibly correspond to any sort of real long term improvement.


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

Adding to that, the only things that should really matter are employment prospects and quality of the course. Student satisfaction is lovely to have, but ultimately if almost all of your students are walking out into excellent jobs, it is probably just a symptom of an overly demanding student demographic.


LJ Crookshanks

Reputation > rankings.



Did you have a good time in Bristol?


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

Hah. I didn’t go there actually – my university did very well in those rankings. The reason I pointed out Bristol is because it is renowned as one of the best law schools and produces piles of lawyers, yet did very badly.



Southampton is hardly a million miles away from Bristol


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

No it isn’t, true. Southampton is a decent university. But better than Bristol? Hmm…



The poor student satisfaction ratings at Bristol are not a product of overly demanding students. Bristol is woeful at listening to its students’ concerns. Lecturers have failed to show up for lectures, the law library has insufficient space to accommodate the law students and yet the Faculty refuses to exclude non-law students from it. Those are really the most obvious factors, but they’re only the most visible parts of the general iceberg of poor management.

Having been there, done a raft of ECs and managed to get a TC, I honestly feel I did more for the place than it did for me.

Just to pre-empt suggestions of the grass elsewhere not always being so green, I previously attended one of the top London universities.



Oh, almost forgot: clueless careers service which pisses firms off, offers no targeted law career advice and rejects invitations to firms’ offices to learn about what they look for.


Timothy James

Why do you not believe Coventry and Edinburgh Napier could possibly be better than Bristol? Is it so incredible that a newer University might overtake an older one – must reputation (= what used to be true) be more reliable than evidence (= what seems to be true now)?
Having said that, yes, of course these league tables are mostly rubbish, because they are designed precisely to confirm the biases we already have. If the evidence contradicts your preconceived ideas, adjust the evidence.


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

Because I do not believe it possible that in the space of one or two years, a pair of formerly very poor universities shot up in quality past one of the best and most well established universities in the country, and think that a league table that has one of said top universities plummeting drastically in a mere year does not reflect reality.

It is not impossible for a new university to overtake an older one, and indeed they should aspire to do so. That was not my point. My point is that we all know that the average Bristol graduate is generally of a far higher calibre than the average Napier graduate, and to pretend that a 17 year old should aspire to go to Edinburgh Napier over Bristol University is at absolute best naive, and in all honesty utterly malevolent. This is especially true considering that the people who acutally use league tables to make choices are poorer kids who don’t have parents and teachers explaining to them which universities are good and are going to get them a job. If, as a result of this table, one single student turns down a place at Bristol in favour of a place at Napier or any other significantly less prestigious university, then the people who compiled it ought to feel ashamed.


Satisfied Student

Non-Oxbridge Pleb have you considered that some people are more keen to not have an awful time at uni/go somewhere supportive than get an extra 2% chance of getting a job at then end, especially where employment stats are still in the 70%s?


Non-Oxbridge Pleb

Absolutely, but I’m not convinced that people actually do have a shitty time at those universities. My point is more that it is more likely that LSE, for instance, has a very demanding and pushy student body than that it offers a worse student experience than less prestigious universities. I know that I complained about quite a few minor things on my student satisfaction survey back in the day, but wouldn’t actually have chosen to go to a different university because my complaints were about accommodation niggles and disorganisation rather than the quality of teaching or the actual student life.



I’m a first year at Bristol. I find it very hard to believe that even 2% of the students here, especially the undergrad lawyers, have an awful time at uni. Almost everyone I know loves it here, and the only ones who don’t are either unusually homesick or struggle a lot with the workload.

As far as the Careers Office goes, having never interacted with them, I can’t say anything with credibility. When it comes to career advice though, the Law Club is very active and very involved. I’m referring to things apart from the events with firms that all top 10-15 universities expect. The club really does go out of its way to help us.

I think the rankings are genuinely not indicative of anything substantial and can be incredibly misleading. For now, it’s far more accurate to rank universities in tiers. Oxbridge, followed by UCL and LSE. After which you have Kings, Durham, and Bristol. Which are very closely followed by Nottingham and Warwick. Together, all these universities form the ‘first’ tier but are separated by the mini tiers I’ve mentioned, much like you have the ‘big’ ivies and the ‘small ivies’. The vast majority of training contracts and pupillages go to students here, the best students (mark wise) tend to be here, the law departments tend to be one of the flagship programs in the university, and the faculties are usually stellar. They also do very well in the REF rankings, which is far more indicative of quality than student satisfaction is.

After this you have universities like Manchester, Exeter, and Queen Mary which still do well. Then you get the rest of the pack.



Not surprised by the difference in employment stats between Oxford and Cambridge. Having all the exams at the end at Oxford means that many people who do have training contracts have already deferred their place by at least six months (post-finals mini gap ‘yah).

For those that study law at Oxford but dont want to pursue it as a career the number of people taking time off post-degree is even higher.


Not Amused

Organisations, groups or institutions with less credibility than the Guardian:

Investment banks,
Retail banks,
Political Opinion Pollsters.

End of list.

I’m not saying that Oxbridge isn’t supreme – a stopped clock is right twice a day. But I am saying that the Guardian has a political motivation for everything it does. It is more than capable of misuse of ‘truth’ to achieve their own aims. We should not accidentally slip in to trusting the Guardian’s opinion on anything – let alone a subject as important as this.

I don’t want any more bright poor born kids in shot unis because they trust politically motivated voices.

What we need is an objective and honest uni league table based solely on employability and compiled by government. This should then be published and promoted.


Ollie Trumpington

You surely mean a stopped clock is right once a day and once a night.



A glaring omission from the tables is the law school at the Open University.

Since opening our eyes to their graduates we have a couple of very fine tenants who came to the Bar with OU degrees. The discipline and maturity they have is sometimes conspicuously obvious in those younger ‘conventional’ graduates.

I stumbled upon their excellent performance in mooting competitions while checking to see if they still offered undergraduate degrees – certainly nothing to be sniffed at.



Conspicuously obvious?



Wow…life changing info!















Conspicuously obvious?


Judge QC

Hey …..booooo


High and Mighty



High and Mighty



Legal Cheek is RUBBISH



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