A-Level Law is a two-year-long course involving studying the subject of Law under the A-Level system operating in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A-Level Law is taken in Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13) or college, therefore it forms part of your General Certificate of Education in A-Levels.

The A-Level Law Curriculum

The syllabus is divided into three areas of law: criminal law, tort law, and either contract or human rights law, depending on which one your educational provider chooses to adopt. Alongside each of the three modules, students study the English Legal System (ELS) and discuss morality and justice.

  • Criminal law includes topics, such as elements of crime, fatal/non-fatal offences, and defences.
  • Tort law focuses on, for example, the liability in negligence and nuisance situations, plus occupiers’ liability and vicarious liability.
  • Contract law, on the other hand, begins by examining the theory behind the four essential elements of every contract. Vitiating factors, contractual discharge, and contractual terms are also covered in this section.
  • Human rights law looks at the rights and liberties set by and enforced under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the EU Convention on Human Rights.

The A-Level Law Minimum Entry Requirements

You will need at least 5 or 6 GCSE grades 9-4 (A-C). It is common for A-Level Law providers to expect a minimum of grade 5/6 in GCSE English Language or English Literature. As Law is examined in entirely written form, providers may also look for other GCSE subjects, such as History, Geography, and Modern Foreign Languages. Some law firms take into account GCSE grades in their job applications, but some don’t!

Always remember to check the entry requirements of the educational institution you are to study at – they may differ in the grades and the GCSE subjects’ preconditions from those of other schools/colleges. For instance, some institutions may require a satisfactory school reference in addition to your grades. Others may insist on you having taken GCSE Science and/or Maths.

The A-Level Law Assessments

Each school/college pairs with an exam board, but we will only look at the assessments determined by the two most popular boards.

The AQA exam has 3 papers. Each one is worth 100 marks, has to be completed within a single exam timeframe of 2 hours, and consists of:

  • five 1-mark questions;
  • two 5-mark questions;
  • one 10-mark question;
  • one 15-mark question; and
  • two 30-mark questions.

The OCR exam board has the same number of papers and time limit but is differently outlined. Each paper has two sections.

  • Students answer one of two 10-markers and one of two 15-markers in Section A.
  • Section B also offers the possibility to choose one of two question combinations, but students respond to two 25-markers towards a scenario, and a separate 25-mark essay.

The A-Level Law Assessment Objectives

An A-Level Law exam paper mark is formed based on how well students satisfy the Assessment Objectives (AOs) for that paper’s questions. They are:

  • AO1 – knowledge and understanding. Students must identify, define and explain the relevant legal rules and principles considered in the scenario.
  • AO2 – application to the scenario. To achieve a good application, students must parallel the AO1 principles with the necessary information from the scenario using appropriate terminology and case examples.
  • AO3 – analysis and evaluation. To gain marks under this AO, students must produce a discussion of the legal rules, notions, matters, and principles concerned in their answer.

Prior Reading for A-Level Law

Although you are principally not expected to have any previous legal knowledge, preliminary reading will push you forward.

One of the best ways to prepare for your course is to obtain a copy of your textbook in advance. Relying on its content page and information, research some of the topics. Start from scratch – while learning about the actual legal principles and their application of law to offences can be a rather high bar, getting to grips with the basics will be more than a steady preparation. Try reading about the:

  • difference between criminal and civil law;
  • basic legal terminology and concepts;
  • ELS;
  • Courts System;
  • difference between Cabinet, Government, and Parliament;
  • process of statute creation and the elements of a Parliamentary statute;
  • aims and types of sentencing;
  • types of legal personnel and their roles;
  • European Union’s history and structure;
  • common law and precedents, amongst many more subject matters.

If you are not particularly keen on academic reading, you can divert to books, such as ‘The Secret Barrister’‘Letters to a Law Student’ (Nicholas McBride), ‘Bleak House’ (Charles Dickens), ‘Landmarks in the Law’ (Lord Denning) and ‘Justice on Trial’ (Chris Daw QC).

Remember, the best revision starting point is contacting your A-Level Law teacher. As every teacher has their own expectations, requirements, and personalised teaching methods, they may also advise you as to how to prepare best for their upcoming classes.

Tips to Succeed in A-Level Law

Apart from being a very enthralling subject, A-Level Law can be equally enjoyable and easy to do if you:

  • Practice past papers. Make sure to do so in timed conditions, and in case you are wondering where to find them – they are available on the relevant exam boards’ websites. Considering the added stress and pressure in exam time, you would want to feel confident and comfortable with your time-management and writing technique, not only in structuring your response and applying the law to the scenario but also in accompanying that with case examples.
  • Use flashcards. There is no better way to master learning and matching your case examples to their corresponding legal principles than producing case flashcards for each of your curriculum modules. Knowing the full names and years of your cases, e.g. Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), can make the difference between awarding grades.
  • Maintain an organised folder. As exam time approaches, the last thing you would want to be stuck doing is organising your folder. Split and label your folder thematically, keep an accurate record of your clearly written notes, and constantly update it with newly filed documents.

Best of luck, A-Level Law students! We hope to see you become solicitors or barristers!

By Georgi Minchev