December 6, 2023
For students in the UK or international students, the pathway to becoming a lawyer typically involves pursuing a law degree at a reputable university. As students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme contemplate their subject choices, it’s essential to understand the equivalent of A levels needed for admission to a law program in the UK. This article aims to guide IB students in making informed decisions about their subjects, ensuring they meet the prerequisites for law studies.

Importance of IB Subjects for Law

Choosing the right IB subjects lays the foundation for success in a law degree. While the IB program is renowned for its holistic and interdisciplinary approach, students aspiring to study law must ensure that their subject choices align with the expectations of UK universities.

Required Subjects for Law

While universities generally do not mandate specific IB subjects, the significance of making prudent choices cannot be overstated. An essay-based subject is often highly recommended, given the nature of legal studies that involve extensive writing, critical analysis, and effective communication.

Occasionally, certain universities do specify particular IB subjects for law applicants. For example, the University of Glasgow requires Higher Level English for admission. These instances highlight the importance of carefully reviewing the entry requirements of each university.

  1. English Literature or Language and Literature: Proficiency in English is crucial for studying law, as it involves extensive reading, critical analysis, and effective communication. Both English Literature and Language and Literature are good choices.
  2. History or a Social Science: Law is deeply rooted in historical and social contexts. Choosing a subject like History or a social science, such as Economics or Psychology, can provide a solid foundation for understanding the evolution of legal systems and societal influences.
  3. Mathematics or a Science: While not always mandatory, some law programs prefer candidates with a background in Mathematics or a science subject. This requirement may vary, so it’s advisable to check the specific entry requirements of the universities you’re interested in.
  4. Extended Essay (EE) in a Relevant Area: The Extended Essay is a unique component of the IB program, allowing students to delve deeply into a topic of their choice. Choosing a legal or socio-legal topic for the Extended Essay can demonstrate a student’s commitment and interest in law.
  5. Theory of Knowledge (TOK): TOK is a mandatory part of the IB program, emphasising critical thinking and reflection. The skills developed in TOK are highly transferable to the study of law, making it a valuable component of an IB diploma for aspiring law students.

Language Proficiency

In addition to specific subject requirements, proficiency in the English language is a crucial consideration for law programs in the UK. Most universities require a minimum score in English language proficiency tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

  1. English Language Proficiency Tests: IB students should plan to take the required English language proficiency test well in advance of their university application deadlines. Achieving a competitive score is essential for demonstrating the ability to comprehend complex legal texts and communicate effectively.
  2. Preparation for English Language Proficiency: IB students can enhance their English language skills through focused reading, writing, and language practice. Engaging in legal literature and academic texts can be particularly beneficial in preparing for the language demands of a law degree.


While meeting the required subject criteria is paramount, students should also consider incorporating electives that align with their interests and aspirations within the field of law. These elective choices can set applicants apart and showcase their unique perspectives and strengths.

  1. Law-Related Electives: Some IB schools offer specialised courses or extracurricular activities related to law. Participating in mock trials, legal debates, or law-related clubs can demonstrate a genuine passion for the subject and provide valuable insights into the legal profession.
  2. Additional Language Courses: Proficiency in a second language can be advantageous for law students, especially if they have an interest in international law or plan to practise in a multilingual setting. Consider taking a second language course as an elective to broaden your skill set.

Find Which Area of Law is Right For You

Discover our guide to different legal areas for making an informed decision


IB Entry Requirements for Top UK Universities

To provide a clearer picture of what IB grades are expected, let’s delve into the entry requirements of some of the top UK universities for law:

University of Oxford

  • Standard Offer: 38 points (with core points), with at least 666 at Higher Level (HL).
  • The emphasis on a well-rounded IB score, with specific requirements for HL subjects, underscores the holistic approach to assessing applicants.

University of Cambridge

  • The prestigious University of Cambridge requires a total of 40-42 points, with 776 at HL.
  • This demand for a high overall IB score, coupled with specific HL subject requirements, reflects the university’s commitment to academic excellence.

University College London (UCL)

  • Standard Offer: 39 points, including a total of 19 in three HL subjects, with no HL score below 5.
  • Contextual Offer: 32 points, including a total of 15 in three HL subjects, with no HL score below 5.
  • UCL’s dual standard and contextual offers showcase flexibility, acknowledging the diverse backgrounds and experiences of applicants.

Durham University

  • Durham seeks a total of 38 points, with specific requirements of 666 in HL subjects.
  • The emphasis on consistency in HL subjects underscores the university’s commitment to a well-rounded academic profile.

King’s College London

  • Standard Offer: 35 points (including TOK/EE), with 766 at HL.
  • Contextual Offer: 35 points (including TOK/EE), with 665 at HL.
  • The inclusion of TOK/EE in the standard offer highlights the university’s recognition of the importance of critical thinking and research skills in the study of law.

University of Glasgow

  • The University of Glasgow requires a score ranging from 38 (6,6,6 HL) to 34 (6,5,5 HL), with HL English as a mandatory subject.
  • The specific demand for HL English underscores the importance of language proficiency in the study of law.

Queen Mary University London

  • A minimum of 36 points is required, with 666 from three HL subjects.
  • Queen Mary University’s clear and concise requirements demonstrate a commitment to attracting high-achieving students with strong subject proficiency.

Key Takeaways

Choosing the right IB subjects is a crucial step for IB students aspiring to study law in the UK. By understanding the required subjects, emphasising language proficiency, and considering relevant electives, students can position themselves as strong candidates for admission to prestigious law programs.

As the legal profession continues to evolve, the interdisciplinary nature of the IB program equips students with the critical thinking and analytical skills needed for success in the dynamic field of law. By making informed subject choices, IB students can embark on a rewarding academic journey and lay the groundwork for a successful legal career.


Loading More Content