As a prominent Redbrick institution, The University of Birmingham continues to occupy a leading position within the educational establishment. Founded in 1900, the University currently has over 18,000 Undergraduate students passing through its doors.
Described by the Guardian University Guide as a ‘large, prestigious and rather grand institution’, it is worth pointing out that not only is the University ranked 7th in the UK, but according to the Times Educational Supplement 2007, it is 65th internationally.
Those leaving secondary education may also be enlightened to discover that in 2006/07 the University was the fourth most popular by number of applications. Birmingham Law School is without doubt the University’s flagship department; nationally, the Law department is ranked 7th by the Times Good University guide 2009.
Birmingham Law School performed exceptionally well in the latest National Student Survey. 89% of respondents said they were satisfied with the quality of their courses. Respondents were particularly impressed with the enthusiasm of staff, their ability to explain things clearly and to make material intellectually stimulating. They also praised the School's library and IT resources and the way courses, the llb in particular, are organised and run.
Occupying a place amongst the likes of Warwick and UCL, Birmingham Law School continues to achieve particular successful with regards to employability figures (81% in 2008).
Birmingham law school itself occupies a central position within the University’s main campus. Running parallel to University square and in front of the famous clock tower, Birmingham law school houses the Harding Law Library and innumerable lecture and seminar rooms for the llb course. However, it is worth pointing out that first and second year students on the llb will in fact receive most of their lectures at other faculty buildings.
Built over four stories high, the Harding Law Library provides full coverage of every core textbook- although some more popular texts are reference only- a Law student will need for each year of academic study on the llb course. Moreover, there are a number of quiet study areas – particularly useful for writing those last minute essays.
In recent years Birmingham law school has acknowledged the importance of providing IT support, and on this note there are now two large computer clusters in the building, providing photocopying and printing facilities from 8 – 7pm. There is also a large common room, with food and drink available throughout the day. Perfect for a break from the llb course!
There are nearly forty international academic staff currently working at Birmingham Law School and many are leaders in their field. With over three hundred students in each year group on the llb course, lectures are inevitably less intimate than seminar sessions. However, students should expect to attend at least ten hours of lectures each week, lasting just under an hour in length.
Seminar teaching on the llb course is particularly impressive, with a ratio of one supervisor for a dozen students. With such a ratio comes an expectation that on average students prepare for 5-6 hours for each seminar. Furthermore, seminars are provided for each module and are scheduled on a fortnightly basis.
Birmingham Law School also prides itself on specialising in a number of different academic fields. Those in first and second year of the llb course will encounter a significant amount of European and Administrative Law, as they study all of the core subjects required for the first stage of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board examinations before you can qualify as a solicitor or barrister, whilst those entering their final year are allowed to choose entirely from an array of specialist modules subjects including both Company, International Human Rights and Medical Law.
Whilst the University encourages students to fully utilise the freedom of modular choice on offer, students are expected to conduct a great deal of independent study. The result is that the level of support offered to students is limited, despite each individual being allocated a personal tutor.
The University is situated in Edgbaston, three miles south west of the City centre. The campus itself is certainly one of the University’s most prominent selling points. Despite being open plan in layout, there remains a distinct collegiate atmosphere on this busy campus. Students frequently sit out on the lawn’s during the summer revision period, and its not surprising to find the BBC filming daytime television show ‘Doctors’ on campus! Birmingham Law School itself is placed very centrally on campus, right next to University square.
The University also has its own rail station (the only one in the Country), providing easy and frequent access to the City centre. Moreover, the City centre contains a number of gig venues, including the Carling Academy. Other highlights include ‘The Mailbox’, an elegant up-market restaurant/shopping centre, whilst the infamous Broad Street plays host to a number of bars and clubs, always a favourite for Birmingham University students.
It is worth noting that in the first year, students are housed in University accommodation. However, nearly all of the largest halls of residence are located on what is known as ‘The Vale’, a vast student village, a fifteen minute walk from the main campus. It has proved incredibly popular for its safety and centrality to both the City centre and University itself.
Second and third year students inevitably move to Selly Oak (a five minute walk south of the University), an area that may lack physical beauty but retains a vibrant and trendy feel. Although the University campus itself is assuredly safe, those moving on to Selly Oak may want to remain vigilant as Student digs are often targeted in house related theft.
It’s also no surprise to note that Birmingham students shy away from the City centre on a Friday and Saturday night, preferring the Student Union instead.
Academic fees in the year 2008-09 for the llb course are £3,145 and University accommodation rents can go from £75 to £110 per week. Legal textbooks are usually £30 new from the University’s Waterstones branch. However, a book fair is usually held at the start of each term and you can expect to pick up the core texts for less than a third of their retail value.
The University Law Society is called the Holdsworth Club, and is the second largest Society at University. With a one-off membership fee of £50, students can look forward to receiving a significant reduction for the regular bar crawls the Club runs, as well as a subsidised ticket price for the much anticipated annual Law Ball in March of each year. http://www.theholdsworthclub.co.uk
The average price for club entry in the City centre is £4-5, and drinks are usually available at student rates (£2-3). The University has a great many eateries on site, including a Subway. Food prices on campus are unfortunately not discounted, however, if in doubt the Sub of the Day always provides good value at £1.99!
Parking on campus is limited, and with that in mind its not surprising that most students travel on foot or by bike. Rail tickets are available at the usual 1/3 discount (with a student railcard) and this makes travel around the City relatively stress free.
For those seeking Careers advice, the Holdsworth Club has a dedicated Careers Representative who will organise weekly visits to Commercial Solicitor firms in both Birmingham and London. Not only does this provide students with an opportunity to interact with professionals in a variety of practice areas, but the firms also host regular skills seminars on how to write application forms and approach interviews.
For those thinking about a career as a Barrister, the Club also has a Barrister Representative who organises trips to Chambers both regionally and to the Inns in London.
Each year a representative from the College of Law hosts a seminar regarding LPC and BVC applications, giving students an opportunity to make a fully informed decision as to whether they wish to pursue a long-term career in the Law. There is also a specially organised Law Fair each autumn, and it is fair to say that most if not all of the City’s largest firms are in regular attendance.
Certainly the key careers event of the year, the Fair gives students a rare opportunity to approach Partners and Trainees’ in order discuss a career a possible Commercial Law whilst also learning a great deal more about each firm.
The University Careers centre offers a great deal of support for Law Students wishing to learn more about alternative career routes, and there are always staff on hand to help students practice interview technique and write Training Contract applications. However, inquiries regarding Pupillages are best directed at the Barrister representative for the Law Society.
Times Law School ranking:
Guardian School Law ranking:
£3145 per year
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