Is your moral compass pointing towards a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW?
Thankfully, it also pointed you to us! We’ve taken all of the guesswork out of what to expect for UNSW Law, so all you have to do is send off your application!
Career paths, entry requirements, core units and more – basically everything you need to know is just a small scroll below.
What is a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW?
It doesn’t take a genius (or a lawyer) to know that a Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate degree from a Law school and the proverbial first step to working in judicial services. It provides you with the foundations to navigate the legal system, covering all areas of law, including Torts, Contracts and the Constitution.
But what’s different about studying at UNSW?
One of the more special things about a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW is that it must be studied as a double degree. This means that if you finish off a Bachelor of Laws, you’ll also be walking out the campus gates with a Bachelor of Arts, Commerce, Communications, or whatever your law-loving brain can conjure up from the approved list of dual streams!
What’s so cool about this structure is that it prepares you for a whole variety of career options and it’s exactly why UNSW law pumps out some of the most well-rounded graduates in Australia.
Here’s the interesting thing about studying Law at UNSW. Graduates don’t always go on to be practicing lawyers.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that graduates will still have to go on to the College of Law and undertake Practical Legal Training (PLT) in order to practice, and some people realise that they’re more interested in other paths before they even make it there.
The good news is that a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW is still a highly coveted degree and there’s a huge convergence of knowledge that comes with this program and a variety of other industries especially because it is a dual program.
Here’s just a few ideas of the industries this degree could take you:
- Legal sector (private and public)
With a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW, the professional world truly is your oyster and the possibilities for your career are only limited by your imagination.
Core Units and Majors
The Bachelor of Laws at UNSW is designed to expose you to all different types of law so you can choose where to specialise after you graduate.
The Law stream of the double degree has a total of 144 Units of Credit – 96 of which are reserved for compulsory law courses. This basically means that the majority of the degree is taken up by core units.
These units are broken down by 84 credits in LLB (Bachelor of Laws) courses and 12 credits in theory courses. An example of some of the LLB courses are:
- Criminal Laws
- Administrative Law
- Land Law
- Constitutional Law
In order to qualify for an LLB accreditation, it is a requirement to understand all areas of law, which is why the degree is based primarily on core, compulsory units.
You’ve probably realised at this point that this structure doesn’t leave any room for a Major. Essentially, you will have to wait until you make it to the College of Law to choose a specialisation.
Think of an LLB as your training wheels and the College of Law as the screwdriver used to take them off so you can become a fully fledged, practicing lawyer. There is a silver lining though – there are still a lot of really cool electives to choose from instead of a major.
There are 42 credits reserved for free law electives, which you can use to build a pseudo-major. These electives will give you a chance to dive deeper into any specific area of law that you are more interested in.
One thing you will definitely not have to worry about while studying a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW is missing out on getting some professional experience. UNSW Law offers a number of professional placement opportunities, some of which are compulsory and some left to your own discretion.
The compulsory unit ‘Lawyers, Ethics and Justice’, for example, has a built-in clinical component wherein students work with both clients and lawyers at UNSW Law’s Kingsford Legal Centre.
As far as supplementary opportunities go, UNSW Law has an extensive list of both internal and external internship programs. Internally, there’s the possibility to work with UNSW’s Australian Human Rights Institute, Indigenous Law Centre, Diplomacy Training Program and more.
There’s also the option to head outside UNSW and work with an ever-growing list of partner businesses, such as Mission Australia, Human Rights Watch or CHOICE. These placement opportunities can be undertaken in conjunction with a variety of the free law electives.
A full list of the opportunities can be found here!
How to Get into a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW
Getting into a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW is no easy task. But if you’re interested in this degree then it’s safe to say you’re the type that’s always up for a challenge!
In 2020, the lowest selection rank (ATAR + Adjustment Factors) was 96. To make matters even more difficult, a killer ATAR alone won’t quite cut it.
Enter the humble LAT (Law Admission Test). This national admission scheme was introduced to UNSW in 2016 because too many students were dropping out by the time they got to their third year.
Basically this test is used to assess your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, which are not always represented in a high ATAR score. Even students transferring from other universities will have to sit UNSW’s LAT (as well as maintain a distinction average) in order to successfully enrol.
We know that getting through the HSC is hard enough, but try not to freak out too much. The test is designed to figure out if you’re a good fit for UNSW Law, and what’s more, we have made up a helpful guide to give you an idea of how you should prepare.
UNSW offers a heap of scholarship opportunities that are sorted by subject and year of study. For a full list of these programs you can head over to their website here!
What’s the Teaching Format?
It’s no secret that UNSW’s recent transition to trimesters has caused quite the ruckus, but try not to worry too much because trimesters mean accelerated degrees! In order to meet full time requirements you need to study three courses per academic session, although during one trimester you have the option to only study two (can’t complain about that).
Generally a law course will have a total of 4 to 6 contact hours per week, so if you’re doing three courses you’ll probably end up having something like 15 contact hours per week (now that’s a timetable I could get used to).
Law courses are broken down by lectures, tutorials and seminars. Every course will be a little bit different, which means there could be subjects where there’s two lectures instead of a seminar and tutorial, a mix of lectures, tutorials, and seminars or a lecture and seminar only.
Unlike a lot of other courses at UNSW, Law lectures will be relatively small because class participation accounts for 10 – 20% of your final grade.
In order to encourage a collaborative environment, lectures will most likely have anywhere up to 50 students and go for 2 hours. There are exceptions to this rule but you will definitely find the lectures to be more intimate than Science ones for example.
Lectures are used to discuss and introduce the course content, but like we said earlier, there will still be a little bit more peer interaction than the norm.
Tutorials are smaller (around 30 students) and even more hands-on than lectures. They require more preparation than a lecture because they are more peer-focused, they also only go for an hour so are a little more intense.
If you don’t do your readings you will have no idea what is going on, and this is important because participation counts for your final grade!
We like to think of seminars as the middle ground between a tutorial and a lecture, as they are used to introduce and interact with the course content. They will also go for about an hour with around 30 students present.
What are the assessments like?
Most courses are built up of three main assessment points: participation, a mid-semester problem question and a two hour open-book final exam. Some courses will be different; theoretical courses, for example, will most likely have an essay component.
The interdisciplinary nature of UNSW Law also means that you could have multimedia assessments where you’ll use your cinematographic prowess to create a film or podcast!
Skills That You Will Build
On top of building practical law skills like drafting documents and contracts, a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW will also equip you with a razor-sharp skill set to prepare you for a variety of careers.
UNSW Law graduates are analytical masters with a strong ethical disposition. They demonstrate effective intrapersonal skills, with a working knowledge of the principles of justice and the rule of law.
All the while, they are skilled with an interdisciplinary perspective (from the dual program), which supplements their superior capacity for self-management.
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
Firstly, it’s important to point out that students in Law School are pretty competitive – in a way, that kind of goes without saying.
A competitive streak is definitely one of the more important personality traits for someone studying Law. In saying that, people are always willing to help if you ask and classes have a really open-minded vibe where you won’t ever feel stupid for contributing (even if you do say something quite silly).
The cohort is majority female, and UNSW itself is a very diverse university, attracting a variety of Australians and overseas students.
UNSW Law offers an interactive law camp for all first year students.
This jam-packed weekend is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between high school and university by giving new students a chance to get to know their cohort. It’s full of activities like themed parties, sports, swimming, trivia, and scavenger hunts, guaranteed to be a good time.
The faculty also provides opportunities for a variety of mobility programs such as the Person of Colour initiative, which seeks to create a network for POC in the law school, catering to a more diverse Australian law community.
The UNSW Law Society is one the most highly respected student-run law organisations in Australia. Their goal is to provide law students with professional, personal and social avenues while they’re studying at UNSW.
It organises competitions that speak to the faculty’s focus on study such as mooting, negotiations and client interviews. On top of this, it offers mentoring, social events and the Law Camp itself!
Arc (UNSW Student Life) also hosts 300 different societies so you’re bound to find at least one that’s a good fit.
Cody Williams is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education. While Cody studied a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French Studies at UNSW, he quickly realised that his dream job would have him sit happily behind a keyboard. Cody’s digital writing career started with an internship at Bauer Media where he was writing for ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR’s online publications. Once he had a taste for writing he never looked back, moving to Brisbane soon later to work as a Producer for Channel Nine Queensland. After a year in television media, he dusted off his online writing shoes so he could put them to good use, stamping out some scorching-hot career and educational resources at AOS.