Cambridge is the best uni for law and Southampton Solent is the worst

By on

New Sunday Times ‘Good University Guide’ mostly tells you what you already knew, although there are a few surprises


Cambridge has pipped bitter rival Oxford to be crowned the best university for law in the 2016 Sunday Times ‘Good University Guide’.

Just behind the Oxbridge duo in the list — which was published yesterday — are London pair LSE and UCL, with Nottingham making up the final member of the top five.

Durham, King’s College London and the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Bristol complete a top ten in which there are few surprises.


Nor will the identities of the universities sitting just outside that elite group cause much shock. Leeds came 11th, Queen’s Belfast 12th, Warwick, Kent and Abertay were 13th=, while Aberdeen was 16th, UEA and Birmingham 17th=, Newcastle 19th and York 20th.

Further down the list, Queen Mary’s law faculty probably has cause to feel hard done by. The Sunday Times (£) has once again failed to recognise the high scores QM has received in the Guardian‘s rankings — which places it as third best in the country — to rank the east London-based institution at just 26th best. How are students meant to make sense of discrepancies like this?

Still — suspending disbelief at the randomness of these league tables — that places QM ahead of fellow Russell Groupers Exeter (31st), Cardiff (33rd), Sheffield (34th), Manchester (35th), Southampton (40th) and Liverpool (43rd).

These supposedly esteemed law faculties won’t be happy to be beaten by upstarts like Swansea (26th), Aston (29th) and Reading (30th).

Still, traditionalists will be encouraged that no Russell Group law department was placed in the bottom 50 of the list of 101 unis. That section was largely reserved for ex-polys, although the universities of Hull (60th), Aberystwyth (65th) and Bradford (67th) also found themselves among the stragglers.

Bringing up the rear of the list was poor old Southampton Solent — which is also ranked worst in the Guardian’s league table. The universities of East and West London just missed out on last position, with Canterbury Christ Church and Roehampton rounding out the bottom five.


The university law faculties that have lost their way [Legal Cheek]


Not Amused

As long as we keep allowing universities to teach to their own standards and to award degrees to their own standards, lists like these will be necessary.

They are always slightly flawed but broadly useful. A nationalised list might be of more use, but as things go they are better than nothing and they should be pinned to notice boards in all our nation’s schools.

I would rather that degrees were treated like a-levels. With everyone sitting the same exam and marked to the same standards. That would force a coasting 10th place uni to up its game on teaching and expose several lowest ranked unis as shams. In the absence of that approach of nationalising standards, all we can do is recognise that university attended matters and try to get more bright disadvantaged kids in to our best unis.



What are the criteria for these league tables what makes one Uni ‘better’ than another see all very subjective elitist and snotty personally…



The problem is that the “education as a businesses” model requires universities to differentiate themselves, so common exams/standards aren’t going to wash with them – they want their reputations to precede them. You can see this clearly enough in the split of Imperial from the University of London, and other constituent colleges awarding their own degrees (UCL, LSE and Kings).



Completely untrue, universities can differentiate themselves by their teaching methods and added-value features



Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure there’s no conflict between what I wrote and what you wrote. Universities can differentiate themselves both by having their own assessment/exam/degree awards and with their teaching methods/value-added features.

However, it seems to me that we certainly can say that there is no appetite for common exams/assessment/degree awards, because there is at least some movement away from that model (as previously stated).


SullCrom Swagg

Loooooooool, butthurt QM students defending their uni as 3rd best in UK coming in 3…2…1…

Everyone knows the Mile End Poly ain’t all that it claims to be.



Let them find solace in clinging on to their irrelevant rankings.

The Guardian rankings in particular are nothing more than a cack-handed attempt at social engineering, rather than a true reflection of quality.


Tugg Benson

Not surprised about Exeter ranking so low to be honest – that uni is chock full of public school toffs who failed to bag a place at Oxbridge and piped in through last minute desperate UCAS Clearing phone calls.

Such an utterly overrated institution.



As someone who attended Exeter Law School and like the majority didn’t attend a public school, I reject that incorrect, nasty comment.



Sorry to hear Exeter rejected you TB, hope you get over it soon.



Good luck on getting a TC with an Exeter degree then pinhead.



For such an utterly overrated institution, it’s still utterly oversubscribed and having graduated from there I can understand why. No one on my LLB secured their place through UCAS Clearing and the privately educated contingent were just as committed to the course as I’m sure Mr. Benson would have been if our admissions officer had offered him a place. The last time I checked, however, we require AAA at A Level and not just a chip on your shoulder.



Loool ok, off you go back to your oversubscribed, 31st place law school then.



I’m sorry. I can only assume by your spelling of “Funneh” and your inability to manage a simple declarative sentence that you’re one of Mr Benson’s peers. I would happily go back to Exeter but if you had read my comment (I would heartily reccomend sounding out the words that are troubling you i.e all of them) you would have understood that I have already graduated from there.



Sure Mr ‘Reccomend’ – you’re clearly an Exeter law grad.



totally agree



Oxford law should probably consider offering an elective to non-law students on the legal status of necrophiliac bestiality. Might bump them up the table. #lifeskills #justsayin



New College of the Humanities degrees are awarded by Southampton Solent – says a lot .


MC Trainee

Always found it funny that QM was rated so highly for law in the Guardian rankings when you realise that there are so few of their grads in top firms or chambers.

Still doesn’t stop the students from pretending to be the best in London/non-Oxbridge UK.



They’re scattered here and there I guess – I know guys and girls who are now at Simmons, Shearman, HogLove, HSF, HFW, SPB, Reed Smith, DWF, CC, Links, Sidley, Dentons, Clydes, Orrick, KWM, the list goes on. Many of them even had several offers to pick from.

It really depends on what marks you end up having and how you appear in an interview/AC. Universities do matter, but less than one would think, especially once you’re sitting opposite your interviewer. QM seems perfectly decent to land a City TC straight outta your grad cohort.



Queen Mary doesn’t seem to do so bad in this ranking:

But we don’t know the number of graduates from each university, so hard to gauge.


Mr Academic

I have been a visiting lecturer at Russell group universities and other UK institutions. My observations at the of the teaching standard at Swansea and Reading has shown me that they are significantly better than many other Russell group universities. I have seen leading academics who are unable to teach or provide a near decent lecture on their own books which are the legal standard in their fields.

For instance I have observed Helen Quane deliver a better lecturer on Public international Law to students than the man who wrote the legal research she is teaching!

Not all of the positions on the list can be justified but many can be. Furthermore people need to understand that many lecturer teach at more than one university in a year. You can have a leading academic in trust who taught at Oxford for 10 years then go to teach at KCL. This can have a significant impact on the teaching standard for the core subject at that university.

There will never be a perfect standard for comparing universities. It will always be subjective. Unless you implement a universal English and Wales law exam for the core legal modules – which is ultimately similar to the methods used for marking A Levels etc. Then the ranking could be assessed completely on student sanctification and achievement.



Swansea is not a Russell Group University, also the way you have written this diatribe is laughable if you wish us to believe you are an academic rather than a Swansea/reading undergrad…



Correct me if I have read this wrong but the only logical conclusion is that they are saying the likes of Swansea and Reading are better than some russel group universities. Not that they are part of the russel group…



Fuark, 77 likes? Did the Swansea Students Union / Law Society get plugged in on this?



Haha I must say this is poorly written for someone claiming to be an academic . However I do understand the point they are trying to get across.


Booty LJ

“Mr Academic” – seems legit
“Deliver a better lecturer” – ‘lecture’
“Russell group” – not properly capitalised, twice
“at the of the teaching standard” – ‘at the of the’?
“Public international Law” – not properly capitalised
“many lecturer teach at more than one university” – ‘lecturers’
Some bizarre syntax
Style is rambling and incoherent, jumping from point to point without real structure

10/10 perfect score. I will immediately apply to Swansea and Reading.


Comments are closed.