Studying a Bachelor of Law at ANU: What's it like and is it right for you?

Knowing if you will like the degree you choose in the future is always a hard decision. But if you are thinking about choosing Law, it can be helpful to learn from the experiences of other students to help you make the right choice. This article will guide students through what it is like studying Law/Arts in university to hopefully bring clarity to what students may want to study in the future.


Deciding to study Law and Arts at the Australian National University has proven to be an intellectually stimulating and highly rewarding experience. Law enables students to interpret and analyse complex legal matters, provoking law students to use their legal writing and oral advocacy skills to prove their arguments. Studying Arts alongside Law, specifically majoring in International Relations and Philosophy, has also allowed me to expand my knowledge in a more political sense in terms of International Relations. Whilst enabling a more theoretical and conceptual way of thinking in Philosophy, paralleling certain topics in Law.

1. How getting into Law/Arts at ANU works

The ATAR requirement to be able to get into the Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts at ANU is currently a 97 ATAR. ANU also offers an early entry program for Year 12 students which allows them to apply for the course and find out if they get accepted all before sitting their exams and finding out their actual ATAR. This is a really great opportunity to relieve students from some of the pressure of receiving their ATAR’s with the hopes to get into their course. ANU also offers certain adjustment factors which act as additional points added to an applicant’s ATAR. These adjustment factors can be based on performance and equity principles, such as for high achievement in senior secondary subjects or for recognition of difficult circumstances that students face in their studies. The University Admissions Centre (UAC) provides a great breakdown of how this process works

2. How the degree is structured

A Law/Arts degree is typically a 5-year degree which requires the completion of 2 Law courses and 2 Arts courses a semester. For a subject like a law, you will tend to find that the degree is primarily made up of compulsory courses before a student can begin to choose their own law electives. This is because compulsory courses ensure students acquire a solid foundation of legal knowledge in many different branches of law such as contracts or criminal law before being able to study their law electives.

In my first year I completed Foundational Australian Law and Torts, alongside my Arts Major and Minor courses which were more flexible as seen below.

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Compulsory courses are also designed to help students develop key legal practices, including legal research, writing, analysis, and advocacy skills. Regardless of what path a law student might want to take in the future, they must have the basic foundations of all law courses to be able to pursue that path.

3. What the content and teaching is like in Law School

Beginning law school can be both an exciting yet overwhelming experience as students transition from high school to university. Learning and understanding content in law school can often be fast-paced or content heavy at times. However, it is how effectively a student can engage themselves with the degree that really matters. Lectures often provide students with content for the week generally focused on a specific topic relevant to the course. Whilst tutorials are more interactive classes with a smaller group of students. These classes allow students to discuss, engage and put into effect the knowledge and skills they have learnt from the taught content. Tutorials also allow students to ask questions and clarify their understanding about certain topics. Whilst content may be dense or complex at times, students begin to increasingly understand the pace and structure of their courses each semester.

4. How to balance study with other aspects of life

It is really important that whilst studying something like Law/Arts or any degree for that matter, students are able to prioritize a healthy study life balance. Whilst it is really important to engage in classes, complete readings and do your assignments, it is more important to know when you need a break from studying. It is crucial to work around your university timetable to be able to find time for other activities or hobbies such as physical exercise. Whilst a law degree can be demanding at times, it is important to learn that your university work cannot always be your priority. Rather, it is important to distinguish what is urgent and what is not so that you have time in your schedule to be able to prioritize other things or people in your life. Something that helps is a to-do list of tasks which can help students organize their university work whilst still attending to other aspects of their life as well.

5. Future opportunities - job prospects, internships, competitions etc.

A degree in Law/Arts opens many avenues for an individual after graduating and even before graduating. Throughout the degree there are many opportunities for students to apply for clerkship or paralegal jobs in law firms that offer students practical experience in the field. This allows students to gain an understanding of how the content they are learning actually applies to real life situations. It is also a great way to figure out which stream of law you would be most interested in for the future. Many law schools also offer the opportunity to participate in competitions such as mooting or negotiations. These competitions act as mimics of real-life scenarios whereby students compete against each other to prove their case in a mock court setting. These competitions are also a great opportunity to put into effect one’s legal advocacy skills. Alongside this, internships also give students a great chance to understand the legal workforce whilst engaging in legal practices.

Figuring out what degree you want to do in university is a very exciting process. Check out our next blog which talks about how to navigate this decision-making process the best way possible in order to give you the best opportunities and experiences in university.

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