It’s easier to get a place on a law degree than a European languages, history or philosophy degree

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By Katie King on

Exclusive: Law is the eighth most competitive university course

Research into the percentage of UCAS applications that end in acceptances has shown law is not the ultra competitive course you might think it is.

Last year, 125,230 applications were made to study law at degree level. One fifth of these, 25,050, ended in an aspiring lawyer accepting their place at a higher education provider.

While it’s tempting to assume this means only one in every five law school applicants is successful, this isn’t the case.

UCAS users are able to submit applications to up to five universities (four for medicine, dentistry and veterinary science). This means the number of applicants will be closer to the number of acceptances, rather than the number of applications actually received by UCAS.

For some time, the myth that law is a super competitive course has begun to be dispelled. LLB places have gone up and up in recent years, to the point where some universities are struggling to fill their courses. Last year, almost a week after A-level results day, there were still places available at the likes of the universities of Leeds and Reading.

Law’s meh ‘competitiveness ranking’ can be better understood when we compare it to other undergraduate courses.

It seems the most competitive course of them all is medicine and dentistry, where only 11% of applications lead to acceptance. Subjects allied to medicine (15%) is second, while physical sciences, history and philosophy, maths, engineering, European languages and physical sciences came in in joint third with 19%.

Then there’s law in eighth place with 20%. This figure is shared with linguistics and biological sciences.

Architecture, social studies, creative arts, business studies and non-European languages take joint 11th place with 21%. Mass communications and computer science both boast 22%, while 23% of education applications led to an offer and an acceptance.

This leaves veterinary science (25%) and technology (26%) at the bottom of the competitiveness league table, though do bear in mind once again the application process for medicine, dentistry and veterinary sciences is different to other subjects.

University subjects: most competitive to least competitive

Competitiveness ranking Name of course % of applications that lead to acceptance
1 Medicine and dentistry 11%
2 Subjects allied to medicine 15%
=3 Engineering 19%
=3 European languages 19%
=3 History and philosophy 19%
=3 Maths 19%
=3 Physical sciences 19%
=8 Biological sciences 20%
=8 Law 20%
=8 Linguistics 20%
=11 Architecture 21%
=11 Creative arts 21%
=11 Non-European studies 21%
=11 Social studies 21%
=11 Business studies 21%
=16 Mass communications 22%
=16 Computer science 22%
18 Education 23%
19 Veterinary Science 25%
20 Technology 26%

Data via UCAS

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