First class or second upper class degree


As often stated universities like Cambridge or Oxford require a first class or a second upper class degree as a prerequisite for getting admitted to their LL.M. classes. Having studied in continental Europe I'm not familiar with these categories and the whole British grading system. What does it need to get such (obviously) good grades? Which percentage of students (e.g. "top 20% of class") do achieve such grades on average?

If I am among top 8% in my class - do I overcome these hurdles?
As often stated universities like Cambridge or Oxford require a first class or a second upper class degree as a prerequisite for getting admitted to their LL.M. classes. Having studied in continental Europe I'm not familiar with these categories and the whole British grading system. What does it need to get such (obviously) good grades? Which percentage of students (e.g. "top 20% of class") do achieve such grades on average?

If I am among top 8% in my class - do I overcome these hurdles?
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westlaw786
Though i do not have the statistical answer you are looking for perhaps i may offer something to this thread. What difference will knowing the statistics make to your performance on the examinations? After all if one supposes that you are going to do the very best and achieve the highest possible grade that you can at this time in these circumstances. It is the result of your examinations that will make the difference between getting into to Oxbridge and not getting in. Therefore, instead of worrying how the rest of the world if performing and how you can compete with them you ought to be competing with the very best that you can offer up in those examinations.

Good luck to you and i hope you knock out the class of degree you want and are willing to work for.
Though i do not have the statistical answer you are looking for perhaps i may offer something to this thread. What difference will knowing the statistics make to your performance on the examinations? After all if one supposes that you are going to do the very best and achieve the highest possible grade that you can at this time in these circumstances. It is the result of your examinations that will make the difference between getting into to Oxbridge and not getting in. Therefore, instead of worrying how the rest of the world if performing and how you can compete with them you ought to be competing with the very best that you can offer up in those examinations.

Good luck to you and i hope you knock out the class of degree you want and are willing to work for.
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jarndyce
I disagree. You should be worrying about how the rest of the world will do, otherwise applying to oxbridge is potentially an enormous waste of time (sorting out application forms and references and posting etc). However, if you're in the top 8% you're almost certainly (depending on the quality of your university) in the 1st/2,1 bracket. On average at oxford and cambridge, 20% get 1sts, and the next 40% or so 2.1s. At other universities the proportion of 1sts and 2.1 is lower (10% 1sts or so), to reflect the less difficult admissions criteria. To get into oxford for the BCL you'll need a 1st standard degree, and for Cambridge LLM nearly that - high 2.1 at least.
I disagree. You should be worrying about how the rest of the world will do, otherwise applying to oxbridge is potentially an enormous waste of time (sorting out application forms and references and posting etc). However, if you're in the top 8% you're almost certainly (depending on the quality of your university) in the 1st/2,1 bracket. On average at oxford and cambridge, 20% get 1sts, and the next 40% or so 2.1s. At other universities the proportion of 1sts and 2.1 is lower (10% 1sts or so), to reflect the less difficult admissions criteria. To get into oxford for the BCL you'll need a 1st standard degree, and for Cambridge LLM nearly that - high 2.1 at least.
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yes, top 8 percent is the equivalent of a first. and with that i'd wager you'll get into oxbridge.
I would add to this discussion that the overall llb average, while important, is not the whole story. i think they consider your performance in each year and also consider prizes youve won etc... ultimaytely its not a simple rank that theyre interested in (though anything in the top ten, even without anything else on the cv, is probably sufficent to get an offer); but rather i think they look for indicia of excellence, and that can come from prizes, or a steady improvement in grades etc.. Here im thinking that you could have a relatively lacluster first year in your llb, and even a mediocre second year, but if you then win a handfull of prizesd in third year and rank inside the top 5 percent, then that itself might be enough to gain entry, as it shows that once you got the hang of it, you were exceptional. i think that they make allowances for these things and take a holistic approach.
extracarriculrs are important oo; but they probably dont matter that much in the UK (unlike the US)...
yes, top 8 percent is the equivalent of a first. and with that i'd wager you'll get into oxbridge.
I would add to this discussion that the overall llb average, while important, is not the whole story. i think they consider your performance in each year and also consider prizes youve won etc... ultimaytely its not a simple rank that theyre interested in (though anything in the top ten, even without anything else on the cv, is probably sufficent to get an offer); but rather i think they look for indicia of excellence, and that can come from prizes, or a steady improvement in grades etc.. Here im thinking that you could have a relatively lacluster first year in your llb, and even a mediocre second year, but if you then win a handfull of prizesd in third year and rank inside the top 5 percent, then that itself might be enough to gain entry, as it shows that once you got the hang of it, you were exceptional. i think that they make allowances for these things and take a holistic approach.
extracarriculrs are important oo; but they probably dont matter that much in the UK (unlike the US)...
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rendition
I completely agree with equity's darling. ugh i actually shiver when I hear your nick.
bona fides were never my cuppa tea especially when dealing with positive and negative covenants.
reason I say this is because I did a grossly unsatisfactory 56 for my Equity and Trusts examination. But since then not only have I shown a steady improvement I have also won prizes from my institution.
And yes I have got an offer from cantab.
I completely agree with equity's darling. ugh i actually shiver when I hear your nick.
bona fides were never my cuppa tea especially when dealing with positive and negative covenants.
reason I say this is because I did a grossly unsatisfactory 56 for my Equity and Trusts examination. But since then not only have I shown a steady improvement I have also won prizes from my institution.
And yes I have got an offer from cantab.
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westlaw786
with all due respect to my peers who are evidently brighter than i from the many other posts they have written, my response to the chief was not one of a practical nature, yes it may be true that applying entails certain burdens but not in my opinion overly burdensome and second not one of us seems to know exactly how the law faculty arrive at their decisions i.e. the definition for admission.

Therefore although one may speculate that if one achieves certain things he will get admission such as prizes and top % of class the criteria may fall foul since the Oxford for example state that it is a merits based selection so what is important is that candidates demonstrate they have the potential to do well on the course which is a rather un-statistical method of approaching selection but nevertheless a good one.

My answer to the Cheif was primarily designed to illustrate that if you keep your eye of the ball for too long because your peeking at the other matches you might get smacked in the face. The soldier most likely to win the war is the one who sets aside everything else save the destruction of his enemy. Once victorious on the battlefield then one is in a far better position to barter bargains with Oxbridge for a place on their courses.

To reiterate therefore that though the statistics may give some indication as to some of the difficulties posed for entry into Oxbridge, though one may come to know his enemy better through them it is a waste of time for an army to know all the training methods and schedules of his opposing army but have dedicated his time and energy so much into knowing these that he forgets to train himself..and then on the battlefield though he may know some things of his enemy his lack of training will be his undoing and therefore train as hard as you can keeping little else in mind, single minded, to reach a 1st, use every tactic every trick of the mind, every tool of learning.

Happy hunting....
with all due respect to my peers who are evidently brighter than i from the many other posts they have written, my response to the chief was not one of a practical nature, yes it may be true that applying entails certain burdens but not in my opinion overly burdensome and second not one of us seems to know exactly how the law faculty arrive at their decisions i.e. the definition for admission.

Therefore although one may speculate that if one achieves certain things he will get admission such as prizes and top % of class the criteria may fall foul since the Oxford for example state that it is a merits based selection so what is important is that candidates demonstrate they have the potential to do well on the course which is a rather un-statistical method of approaching selection but nevertheless a good one.

My answer to the Cheif was primarily designed to illustrate that if you keep your eye of the ball for too long because your peeking at the other matches you might get smacked in the face. The soldier most likely to win the war is the one who sets aside everything else save the destruction of his enemy. Once victorious on the battlefield then one is in a far better position to barter bargains with Oxbridge for a place on their courses.

To reiterate therefore that though the statistics may give some indication as to some of the difficulties posed for entry into Oxbridge, though one may come to know his enemy better through them it is a waste of time for an army to know all the training methods and schedules of his opposing army but have dedicated his time and energy so much into knowing these that he forgets to train himself..and then on the battlefield though he may know some things of his enemy his lack of training will be his undoing and therefore train as hard as you can keeping little else in mind, single minded, to reach a 1st, use every tactic every trick of the mind, every tool of learning.

Happy hunting....
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westlaw786
just one more thing to add....i know it is human nature to desire certainty and that this game of uncertainty is probably not going to sit easily with you....but for what its worth all of us here who seek to advise you on any of this i am sure have been through the same as you and for whatever reason and probably having alot less to do with our intellectual ability than we would like to think managed to gain entry into the mystical and mystifying Oxbridge of dreams though intelligence is a pleasent fiction indeed lol (i speak on behalf of myself here and not others who i am quite certain represent some of the keenest minds today)...

as someone once told me peenul berries do your best.

as for the rest of us....cheer him on.....perhaps we will be meeting the chief sometime from now in court-room or a confrence hall....
just one more thing to add....i know it is human nature to desire certainty and that this game of uncertainty is probably not going to sit easily with you....but for what its worth all of us here who seek to advise you on any of this i am sure have been through the same as you and for whatever reason and probably having alot less to do with our intellectual ability than we would like to think managed to gain entry into the mystical and mystifying Oxbridge of dreams though intelligence is a pleasent fiction indeed lol (i speak on behalf of myself here and not others who i am quite certain represent some of the keenest minds today)...

as someone once told me peenul berries do your best.

as for the rest of us....cheer him on.....perhaps we will be meeting the chief sometime from now in court-room or a confrence hall....
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rendition
im just coming here every now n then cos im so incredibly bored with commercial contract revision. no i am REALLY bored.

at the end of the day i doubt any advise here will really make a difference to an individual's decision making. maybe on a sub conscious level i dont know.
but hey it doesnt really hurt to gather the faithful and propose a toast.
im just coming here every now n then cos im so incredibly bored with commercial contract revision. no i am REALLY bored.

at the end of the day i doubt any advise here will really make a difference to an individual's decision making. maybe on a sub conscious level i dont know.
but hey it doesnt really hurt to gather the faithful and propose a toast.
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@ westlaw786: Thank you for your thoughts even though they do not deliver the kind of information I was firstly intending to find. Maybe I should have expressed more clearly that I already graduated two years ago namely among top 8% in my class and am now trying to assess my realistic chances of admission - preferably based upon experiences made by already admitted students... Are you writing to me/us as a current Oxbridge student and if so - how do you assess my situation from that point of view? Thanks in advance
@ westlaw786: Thank you for your thoughts even though they do not deliver the kind of information I was firstly intending to find. Maybe I should have expressed more clearly that I already graduated two years ago namely among top 8% in my class and am now trying to assess my realistic chances of admission - preferably based upon experiences made by already admitted students... Are you writing to me/us as a current Oxbridge student and if so - how do you assess my situation from that point of view? Thanks in advance
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westlaw786
I am not a current student of Oxbridge but have been offered a place to study for the BCL at Oxford. If you have already graduated then I dont see why you dont apply? I could postualte and theorise as to the criteria used for admissions, what i think will and will not stand out but i think it to no avail. Firstly, because i dont, as a matter of fact, know how admission is determined and secondly because doing so might act as a deterrence to you actually applying. deterring you from applying is not in my opinion wise since there is a chance that you will be admitted. You yourself must believe in such a chance or contemplating admission would not have entered your mind. Isnt it therefore worth a chance to apply?

The worst that can happen is that they say no and you are no worse off than having been deterred to apply through a forum such as this. On the other hand if they say yes then the academic hypothesis and postualtion that we do here means absolutley nothing.

In my opinion, and i imagine that this is the case with a lot of students that apply to Oxbridge, there is always an element of uncertainty and darkness that looms over our applications. Partly because we dont know who we are competing against and under what conditions. I dont think that there are any hard and fast rules. they look for academic merit and the potential to do well on the course.

Make an application. Make the best application you can. Choose good samples of work. Get an overview of Oxbridge education and target your application around your research.

At the end of the day the prospectus says that the diversity of student is wide and therefore trying to compare yourself to students from all across the world, from different backgrounds, examinations, expertise, language and so on, how are you going to weigh the relative merits of your application. Leave that to the faculty at Oxbridge.

I hope this helps. To re-iterate....make your application...is the basic point i am making.Congrats on graduating in the top 8%. With or without admission that is a remarkable achievment.
I am not a current student of Oxbridge but have been offered a place to study for the BCL at Oxford. If you have already graduated then I dont see why you dont apply? I could postualte and theorise as to the criteria used for admissions, what i think will and will not stand out but i think it to no avail. Firstly, because i dont, as a matter of fact, know how admission is determined and secondly because doing so might act as a deterrence to you actually applying. deterring you from applying is not in my opinion wise since there is a chance that you will be admitted. You yourself must believe in such a chance or contemplating admission would not have entered your mind. Isnt it therefore worth a chance to apply?

The worst that can happen is that they say no and you are no worse off than having been deterred to apply through a forum such as this. On the other hand if they say yes then the academic hypothesis and postualtion that we do here means absolutley nothing.

In my opinion, and i imagine that this is the case with a lot of students that apply to Oxbridge, there is always an element of uncertainty and darkness that looms over our applications. Partly because we dont know who we are competing against and under what conditions. I dont think that there are any hard and fast rules. they look for academic merit and the potential to do well on the course.

Make an application. Make the best application you can. Choose good samples of work. Get an overview of Oxbridge education and target your application around your research.

At the end of the day the prospectus says that the diversity of student is wide and therefore trying to compare yourself to students from all across the world, from different backgrounds, examinations, expertise, language and so on, how are you going to weigh the relative merits of your application. Leave that to the faculty at Oxbridge.

I hope this helps. To re-iterate....make your application...is the basic point i am making.Congrats on graduating in the top 8%. With or without admission that is a remarkable achievment.
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Thanks for your extenisve answer again! Allow me just two more - probably annoying - questions: 1.) You write that you do not intend to deter me from applying. Does that implicate that you estimate that my chances are rather low? 2.) What was your ranking in class and why didn't you accept Oxford's offer?

Allowedly, that were actually three questions. But I'm always hungry for information... :-)
Thanks for your extenisve answer again! Allow me just two more - probably annoying - questions: 1.) You write that you do not intend to deter me from applying. Does that implicate that you estimate that my chances are rather low? 2.) What was your ranking in class and why didn't you accept Oxford's offer?

Allowedly, that were actually three questions. But I'm always hungry for information... :-)
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irishguy24
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irishguy24
Forgot to clarify that I'm at Cambridge not Oxford, so I don't know what happens there.
Forgot to clarify that I'm at Cambridge not Oxford, so I don't know what happens there.
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prii
one more practical advice: get your referees to write detailed and very strong recommendation letters for you. since the applicants to the bcl program are of a very high quality, the faculty assesors give a lot of weight to letters of recommendation. an oxford don told me this before. if its of any help, I got into the bcl. I specifically asked my referees to do so.
one more practical advice: get your referees to write detailed and very strong recommendation letters for you. since the applicants to the bcl program are of a very high quality, the faculty assesors give a lot of weight to letters of recommendation. an oxford don told me this before. if its of any help, I got into the bcl. I specifically asked my referees to do so.
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westlaw786
Well i think the contributions to this post are all excellent. To answer your questions....i said i didnt want to deter you not because i have rated your academic potential but because you have a lack of confidence in it. If i said for example, that as far as i am aware Oxbridge only take the top 2% and you took that advice, despite the fact that it may be incorrect and merely an unexamined opinion, you may well lose out on the opportunity to actually have your application accepted.

What other have expressed such as Irish guy are factual statements of a situation that existed at one time. Yes Oxbridge took certain candidates or have a reputation of taking certain types of candidates over others and many of those candidates would have certain types of degree and certain prizes and all the rest of it but such statements dont account for the other 100 or so students on the course nor those that were accepted and didnt attend nor what the range and quality of candidates were on that particular round of applications.

On any given application round, your success or failure will be relative to who has applied and what their qualifications are not some other mystifying criteria. If one applicant who had a better essay or better qualifications than i, i would probably not have been accepted. It just so happened that no other such candidate, and thankfully for my sake, applied.

in any event, even if some other candidate has 10 prizes and you have none and this candidate has a 1st class within the top 5% of their class it is concievable that though you have neither your work shows such potential and merit that the faculty think it more deserving that you have a shot then the other fellow. Why? Because some people dont have the opportunity to take the time, money and effort to win 10 prizes and had a bad examination day but the work they have produced on their good day against whatever adversity they may have faced was of a superior quality to the guy with the credentials. Substance and not form is the basic point here.

If Oxford are what we all think they are i.e. the very best that education has to offer than they know this: that the law is not black and white indeed it is a grey area and life likewise is not black and white, it to is grey in nature and substance so give Oxbridge the credit of recognising the grey in life and in education and do not narrow your view or perspective to black and white hard and fast rules...you are applying to people who understand the colour and charachter of grey.

In my opinion do yourself a favour, bite the bullet, do what your heart clearly desires and apply. Do what you think will benefit the application, whether its prizes, moots, experience, internships, publications, editing or pro bono. get good references and make it clear that you are someone who can capitilise on the grey and are not afraid to argue your case even against what may seem to you to be overwhelming odds. After all do you think in legal practise or acadmia there will never be a time when the odds will be so?

I hope this helps you in coming to a decision. I am not annoyed by your questions because the bottom line is that we are all in the same boat facing the same challanges and by helping each other in whatever respect we each need it and with whatever demons we face we learn that as a supportive community we do better for the common good and at the end of the day as lawyers or potential lawyers the common good is what the scales of justice ought always to try and favour.
Well i think the contributions to this post are all excellent. To answer your questions....i said i didnt want to deter you not because i have rated your academic potential but because you have a lack of confidence in it. If i said for example, that as far as i am aware Oxbridge only take the top 2% and you took that advice, despite the fact that it may be incorrect and merely an unexamined opinion, you may well lose out on the opportunity to actually have your application accepted.

What other have expressed such as Irish guy are factual statements of a situation that existed at one time. Yes Oxbridge took certain candidates or have a reputation of taking certain types of candidates over others and many of those candidates would have certain types of degree and certain prizes and all the rest of it but such statements dont account for the other 100 or so students on the course nor those that were accepted and didnt attend nor what the range and quality of candidates were on that particular round of applications.

On any given application round, your success or failure will be relative to who has applied and what their qualifications are not some other mystifying criteria. If one applicant who had a better essay or better qualifications than i, i would probably not have been accepted. It just so happened that no other such candidate, and thankfully for my sake, applied.

in any event, even if some other candidate has 10 prizes and you have none and this candidate has a 1st class within the top 5% of their class it is concievable that though you have neither your work shows such potential and merit that the faculty think it more deserving that you have a shot then the other fellow. Why? Because some people dont have the opportunity to take the time, money and effort to win 10 prizes and had a bad examination day but the work they have produced on their good day against whatever adversity they may have faced was of a superior quality to the guy with the credentials. Substance and not form is the basic point here.

If Oxford are what we all think they are i.e. the very best that education has to offer than they know this: that the law is not black and white indeed it is a grey area and life likewise is not black and white, it to is grey in nature and substance so give Oxbridge the credit of recognising the grey in life and in education and do not narrow your view or perspective to black and white hard and fast rules...you are applying to people who understand the colour and charachter of grey.

In my opinion do yourself a favour, bite the bullet, do what your heart clearly desires and apply. Do what you think will benefit the application, whether its prizes, moots, experience, internships, publications, editing or pro bono. get good references and make it clear that you are someone who can capitilise on the grey and are not afraid to argue your case even against what may seem to you to be overwhelming odds. After all do you think in legal practise or acadmia there will never be a time when the odds will be so?

I hope this helps you in coming to a decision. I am not annoyed by your questions because the bottom line is that we are all in the same boat facing the same challanges and by helping each other in whatever respect we each need it and with whatever demons we face we learn that as a supportive community we do better for the common good and at the end of the day as lawyers or potential lawyers the common good is what the scales of justice ought always to try and favour.

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irishguy, long time no see (hear/write?).
on a totally unrelated but nontheless relevant matter, how were you exams? How does it feel to be finished the LLm?
Im particularly curious about restitution. Was it a tough exam? a course worth taking? any detailes on this and all other matters exam related are most welcome.
one final Q: where to from here, old chap? magic circle, ivory tower, saving the world??...
irishguy, long time no see (hear/write?).
on a totally unrelated but nontheless relevant matter, how were you exams? How does it feel to be finished the LLm?
Im particularly curious about restitution. Was it a tough exam? a course worth taking? any detailes on this and all other matters exam related are most welcome.
one final Q: where to from here, old chap? magic circle, ivory tower, saving the world??...
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Hi...me again.
I really wanna get into LLM programme, specialise in human right law if possible.
But when I read the extra curricular activities taht you all have, it scares me a lot..as in the previous thread, i am the founder of NGO, organise many trips to developing countries,etc and probably have articles published in NGO fields(which is mroe relevant to social economic and cultural rights).

While I am not itnerested in NGO fields, I wanna have LLM in human rights. What do yo think about my chances to get into Cambridge?Does extra curricular activites like internship in Asian Human Rights Commission, HUman Rights in CHina,etc. counts?

Also, I would probably only get 2nd up (GPA 3.0).

Thanks!
Hi...me again.
I really wanna get into LLM programme, specialise in human right law if possible.
But when I read the extra curricular activities taht you all have, it scares me a lot..as in the previous thread, i am the founder of NGO, organise many trips to developing countries,etc and probably have articles published in NGO fields(which is mroe relevant to social economic and cultural rights).

While I am not itnerested in NGO fields, I wanna have LLM in human rights. What do yo think about my chances to get into Cambridge?Does extra curricular activites like internship in Asian Human Rights Commission, HUman Rights in CHina,etc. counts?

Also, I would probably only get 2nd up (GPA 3.0).

Thanks!
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irishguy24
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