UCL vs LSE - my experience


AML
Hello everyone,

This is to give you the opinion of a former insider at UCL - I do not want anyone to do the same mistake that I did, if any. Its time for you to chose, so choose wisely, unlike me. I hope this will help.

I applied to LSE, UCL and other colleges. I was admitted in all colleges. The real alternative was between LSE and UCL. I chose UCL over LSE: I relied on the Times rankings, the courses on offer and the fact that several prominent lawyers and judges in my country went to UCL. UCL is higher in the rankings, and more strict as to admission standards. To be honest however, I dont understand why and how that is possible. I went to several law schools in several countries and this one is the worst I have had experienced.

This is not to be taken as a definitive answer as to what choice you should make if youre admitted at LSE and UCL but please take it into account. Both are good law schools I think. I do not want to be overly negative about UCL, and you definitely should consider other opinions as well. I think that several professors and people at UCL are making big efforts to make it enjoyable and to make it a great law school to attend. But they just dont have as much money as LSE, which probably explains in part why my experience (and I know that other people feel the same as well) is so disappointing. The reason why I write this is to provide information to prospective students so they are not mislead like I was, not to tarnish UCL Laws reputation. But I just think they are not providing students with a product that meets the expectations created by the Times rankings. Also, I dont think UCL is giving you a product thats worth the price. Mummy and daddy were not paying for my studies: every single penny I spent on this LL.M., I worked hard to get it. Which makes it very painful to think that I probably made a wrong decision. It is a very important decision that you take, so think twice. Unless you are really sure that you want to go to UCL, think again if you hold an offer from LSE as well. Especially if youre international: fees are the same. I regret I chose UCL. Here are my reasons. Some may appear trivial, but when you are actually there, devil is in the details. My experience of LSE is that of a visiting use of the library, and a friend of several LSE graduates.

1. LSE's library is way better. Most of the time, when I looked for a book either at the IALS or at UCL's library, it's not there or they only have a very old version. In contrast, LSE's library have just been renovated, is opened 24 hours a day for students and is apparently the biggest library for social sciences in the world. Everything is up to date, and youll get access to foreign materials, sociology, economics and political science materials as well. That is increasingly important given the interdisciplinary approach of several courses. It is useful to be able to find the books that you need in a single place. As a UCL student, youll be able to attend Lses library as a visitor (limited hours)

2. To be honest, UCL's library is the worst university library I've ever seen in terms of contents, especially international contents (in my country, even the third-tier law schools have better ressources). There is a complete lack of computers at UCL's library, and the ones there are underperformant and not well located. The furniture is in very bad condition. The only positive aspect of UCL's library is the nice statues- Oh, and it looks old, which is kinda nice...

3. LSE's computer labs are more up-to-date, both in the library and the old building. The chairs are nicer, there is more space, the computer are more performant and up-to-date, and the opening hours are wider. The only positive aspect with UCL Laws computer labs is that it is free to print whereas youll have to pay to print at LSE. Sometimes, the out of order computers stay out of order for weeks

4. The courses and the professors are excellent at UCL overall. The public stream, in particular, has a very good reputation. However, I have been told by some students interested in public law that several public law courses are now given by new professors so it is likely that you will not be taught by the top professors. The courses may still be good, but you know, its just not the same

5. I find the administrative services in general very poor at UCL, although it might be even poorer in your country, especially if you are from France. Every single time people have a request to make at the postgrad office, the student finance services or the admissions services, they feel unwelcome. It is not only my experience; several other students told me the same thing. LSEs administration uses computer systems. UCL uses paperwork both for admission and course selection, and UCLs staff is very good at sending you at three different places to get the document you need. You are not likely to get quick answer when you make any queries at UCL, especially if you use e-mails. I often had to insist to get answer to my questions, which is not cool when youre a bit insecure because you are coming in a new environment, and when you are unfamiliar with the country. The administrative and security staff at LSE is lovely in my experience, which is not the case at UCL (maybe LSEs staff has a better collective agreement)

6. Take into account the respective reputation of LSE and UCL in your country. I find it more important now that I am working. I think UCL should launch a large campaign to improve their reputation in Laws. I am very disappointed to see that UCL is unknown in my country. I should have known

7. Several courses were cancelled at UCL and other colleges after I accepted their offer. Ensure that the courses you want to take are gonna be offered if your intention is to go to UCL.

8. One very positive aspect of UCL is that we have a law building (the Bentham house, which is old and nice). It is great for gatherings, partys and meeting friends. At LSE, law students are all over the place.

9. There are no lockers on campus at UCL. At LSE, every student can have a locker, which is nice if youre walking or riding a bike to school. You wont have to carry your book on your back every day.

10. There is a nice student pub just in front of LSE


I had an OK experience at UCL. But I expected more than a OK experience for 12 000 £.
Hello everyone,

This is to give you the opinion of a former insider at UCL - I do not want anyone to do the same mistake that I did, if any. It’s time for you to chose, so choose wisely, unlike me. I hope this will help.

I applied to LSE, UCL and other colleges. I was admitted in all colleges. The real alternative was between LSE and UCL. I chose UCL over LSE: I relied on the Times rankings, the courses on offer and the fact that several prominent lawyers and judges in my country went to UCL. UCL is higher in the rankings, and more strict as to admission standards. To be honest however, I don’t understand why and how that is possible. I went to several law schools in several countries and this one is the worst I have had experienced.

This is not to be taken as a definitive answer as to what choice you should make if you’re admitted at LSE and UCL but please take it into account. Both are good law schools I think. I do not want to be overly negative about UCL, and you definitely should consider other opinions as well. I think that several professors and people at UCL are making big efforts to make it enjoyable and to make it a great law school to attend. But they just don’t have as much money as LSE, which probably explains in part why my experience (and I know that other people feel the same as well) is so disappointing. The reason why I write this is to provide information to prospective students so they are not mislead like I was, not to tarnish UCL Laws reputation. But I just think they are not providing students with a product that meets the expectations created by the Times rankings. Also, I don’t think UCL is giving you a product that’s worth the price. Mummy and daddy were not paying for my studies: every single penny I spent on this LL.M., I worked hard to get it. Which makes it very painful to think that I probably made a wrong decision. It is a very important decision that you take, so think twice. Unless you are really sure that you want to go to UCL, think again if you hold an offer from LSE as well. Especially if you’re international: fees are the same. I regret I chose UCL. Here are my reasons. Some may appear trivial, but when you are actually there, devil is in the details. My experience of LSE is that of a visiting use of the library, and a friend of several LSE graduates.

1. LSE's library is way better. Most of the time, when I looked for a book either at the IALS or at UCL's library, it's not there or they only have a very old version. In contrast, LSE's library have just been renovated, is opened 24 hours a day for students and is apparently the biggest library for social sciences in the world. Everything is up to date, and you’ll get access to foreign materials, sociology, economics and political science materials as well. That is increasingly important given the interdisciplinary approach of several courses. It is useful to be able to find the books that you need in a single place. As a UCL student, you’ll be able to attend Lse’s library as a visitor (limited hours)

2. To be honest, UCL's library is the worst university library I've ever seen in terms of contents, especially international contents (in my country, even the third-tier law schools have better ressources). There is a complete lack of computers at UCL's library, and the ones there are underperformant and not well located. The furniture is in very bad condition. The only positive aspect of UCL's library is the nice statues- Oh, and it looks old, which is kinda nice...

3. LSE's computer labs are more up-to-date, both in the library and the old building. The chairs are nicer, there is more space, the computer are more performant and up-to-date, and the opening hours are wider. The only positive aspect with UCL Laws computer labs is that it is free to print whereas you’ll have to pay to print at LSE. Sometimes, the “out of order” computers stay “out of order” for weeks…

4. The courses and the professors are excellent at UCL overall. The public stream, in particular, has a very good reputation. However, I have been told by some students interested in public law that several public law courses are now given by new professors so it is likely that you will not be taught by the top professors. The courses may still be good, but you know, it’s just not the same…

5. I find the administrative services in general very poor at UCL, although it might be even poorer in your country, especially if you are from France. Every single time people have a request to make at the postgrad office, the student finance services or the admissions services, they feel unwelcome. It is not only my experience; several other students told me the same thing. LSE’s administration uses computer systems. UCL uses paperwork both for admission and course selection, and UCL’s staff is very good at sending you at three different places to get the document you need. You are not likely to get quick answer when you make any queries at UCL, especially if you use e-mails. I often had to insist to get answer to my questions, which is not cool when you’re a bit insecure because you are coming in a new environment, and when you are unfamiliar with the country. The administrative and security staff at LSE is lovely in my experience, which is not the case at UCL (maybe LSE’s staff has a better collective agreement…)

6. Take into account the respective reputation of LSE and UCL in your country. I find it more important now that I am working. I think UCL should launch a large campaign to improve their reputation in Laws. I am very disappointed to see that UCL is unknown in my country. I should have known…

7. Several courses were cancelled at UCL and other colleges after I accepted their offer. Ensure that the courses you want to take are gonna be offered if your intention is to go to UCL.

8. One very positive aspect of UCL is that we have a law building (the Bentham house, which is old and nice). It is great for gatherings, partys and meeting friends. At LSE, law students are all over the place.

9. There are no lockers on campus at UCL. At LSE, every student can have a locker, which is nice if you’re walking or riding a bike to school. You won’t have to carry your book on your back every day.

10. There is a nice student pub just in front of LSE…


I had an OK experience at UCL. But I expected more than a OK experience for 12 000 £.
quote
I am a current postgraduate LLM student at UCL and i find everything quite good.
The only big problem, according to me, is the one related to reputation. I am from Italy and most of people, even in big law firms, don't know about the huge reputation of UCL, whereas Lse is well known almost everywhere.
Actually, I think that it is a problem of mere ignorance, since most of people in my country know Lse just for the fancy name; however, reputation should be considered, since in most of cases it is reputation that offers the better job opportunities.
Is there here any UCL postgraduate student from civil law countries that have some good experiencies to report? I would appreciate some optimistic news...
I am a current postgraduate LLM student at UCL and i find everything quite good.
The only big problem, according to me, is the one related to reputation. I am from Italy and most of people, even in big law firms, don't know about the huge reputation of UCL, whereas Lse is well known almost everywhere.
Actually, I think that it is a problem of mere ignorance, since most of people in my country know Lse just for the fancy name; however, reputation should be considered, since in most of cases it is reputation that offers the better job opportunities.
Is there here any UCL postgraduate student from civil law countries that have some good experiencies to report? I would appreciate some optimistic news...
quote
Ronin
I am French and I have applied to UK lawfirms in Paris thre years ago (I work at CC Paris) and honestly, Partners know UCL, especially UK partners.

However, I am not sure that recruiters really make the difference between UCL, KCL or LSE. What they look is what you have done during your LLM.

US Lawfirm like LSE because of brand reasons, but it seems that they will always prefer US LLMs (I think US LLMs are too expensive for what they bring but many people prefer the "US"stamp).

Solicitors of your firm will confirm you that UCL is a very good choice. What is important is to have top law degrees from local university (ie Italy). A LLM is always a big plus, but can never replace a local legal background.

Best
I am French and I have applied to UK lawfirms in Paris thre years ago (I work at CC Paris) and honestly, Partners know UCL, especially UK partners.

However, I am not sure that recruiters really make the difference between UCL, KCL or LSE. What they look is what you have done during your LLM.

US Lawfirm like LSE because of brand reasons, but it seems that they will always prefer US LLMs (I think US LLMs are too expensive for what they bring but many people prefer the "US"stamp).

Solicitors of your firm will confirm you that UCL is a very good choice. What is important is to have top law degrees from local university (ie Italy). A LLM is always a big plus, but can never replace a local legal background.

Best
quote
PUCCA
I m still now clear if UCL is better than LSE for Law.

I know the rankings dont matter much but in the world ranking UCL is 7 in the world and LSE its like 60 or something,,,its like a huge difference,,why is that??

then when it comes to social sciences rankings LSE comes first than UCL but its not like a huge distance.

I am still really confussed about which one is better for law
I m still now clear if UCL is better than LSE for Law.

I know the rankings dont matter much but in the world ranking UCL is 7 in the world and LSE its like 60 or something,,,its like a huge difference,,why is that??

then when it comes to social sciences rankings LSE comes first than UCL but its not like a huge distance.

I am still really confussed about which one is better for law
quote
QSWE
I guess one should not weigh pros and cons too much.

The best test in any case is got to be the faculty in one's subjects of interest and for that matter even QUML, Warwick or Manchester or Edinburgh might be equally good.

One cannot and should not go by generalisations unless there is mammoth difference and for that matter one can put Oxbridge and UOL colleges in one group and the rest in the other. The rankings should not be more useful than this.
I guess one should not weigh pros and cons too much.

The best test in any case is got to be the faculty in one's subjects of interest and for that matter even QUML, Warwick or Manchester or Edinburgh might be equally good.

One cannot and should not go by generalisations unless there is mammoth difference and for that matter one can put Oxbridge and UOL colleges in one group and the rest in the other. The rankings should not be more useful than this.

quote
Interalia
Hi,

I'm pretty concerned over the facilities at UCL. Can anyone who has studied at UCL weigh in on the accuracy of the original poster's description of the state of the facilities at UCL, in particular the state of the library? I am especially concerned about the availability of books in the realm of commercial law and legal theory.

Furthermore, if anyone has knowledge of the state of UCL's facilities in comparison to King's that would be helpful too.

Thanks
Hi,

I'm pretty concerned over the facilities at UCL. Can anyone who has studied at UCL weigh in on the accuracy of the original poster's description of the state of the facilities at UCL, in particular the state of the library? I am especially concerned about the availability of books in the realm of commercial law and legal theory.

Furthermore, if anyone has knowledge of the state of UCL's facilities in comparison to King's that would be helpful too.

Thanks
quote
PUCCA,

Perhaps you can identify the specific classes you want to get and the professors who teach the subject. Both schools have good professors. Prof. Philippe Sands, a well-known expert in international law (and international environmental law), was a tutor of a friend who attended UCL. Another prominent law professor who teaches at UCL is Prof. Ronald Dworkin who, prior to his appointment at UCL, succeeded H.L.A. Hart as Chair of Jurisprudence at Oxford.

Prof. Christopher Greenwood is a noted expert in international criminal law from the LSE (though I heard he is on leave from the law department to join Lady Higgins on the International Court of Justice). Prof. Conor Gearty and Prof. Christine Chinkin are authorities in international human rights law.

If you can ascertain the professors and classes you are interested in, maybe you can make a better decision. Don't look too much into the rankings. Look into your specific field of study and pinpoint the experts in that field. It would then be easier to make a choice between the two.
PUCCA,

Perhaps you can identify the specific classes you want to get and the professors who teach the subject. Both schools have good professors. Prof. Philippe Sands, a well-known expert in international law (and international environmental law), was a tutor of a friend who attended UCL. Another prominent law professor who teaches at UCL is Prof. Ronald Dworkin who, prior to his appointment at UCL, succeeded H.L.A. Hart as Chair of Jurisprudence at Oxford.

Prof. Christopher Greenwood is a noted expert in international criminal law from the LSE (though I heard he is on leave from the law department to join Lady Higgins on the International Court of Justice). Prof. Conor Gearty and Prof. Christine Chinkin are authorities in international human rights law.

If you can ascertain the professors and classes you are interested in, maybe you can make a better decision. Don't look too much into the rankings. Look into your specific field of study and pinpoint the experts in that field. It would then be easier to make a choice between the two.
quote
S_Dimelow
The above is excellent advice. To add to it, combining an earlier point, do not think that London (or, indeed Oxbridge) is all the UK has to offer. If a student wants to focus on something like, for example, legal history, Edinburgh or QMUL would probably top the list alongside Cambridge. Although, I am sure, a draw for the international student, London and Oxbridge are not always the best place to be!
The above is excellent advice. To add to it, combining an earlier point, do not think that London (or, indeed Oxbridge) is all the UK has to offer. If a student wants to focus on something like, for example, legal history, Edinburgh or QMUL would probably top the list alongside Cambridge. Although, I am sure, a draw for the international student, London and Oxbridge are not always the best place to be!
quote
Banker
currently doing my LLM at UCL. Facilities are really not impressive. LSE must have much better ones. I heard people moaning about both UCL and LSE. I am perosnaly not interested that much in the quality of facilities. What is the most important for me is the level of teaching. Again I heard people complaing about teachers from both schools. Before I chose my subjects a visited a lot of various classes and chose the best ones. Three of my teachers are/were professors in Oxford and are great. One of them is by far the best teacher I have ever seen and I am sure i will ever see. So I am very happy at UCL. However if I did not do it and chose subjects just pursuant to their titles I might have very average teachers and bad feeling about the school. And I think that it is the same everywhere.
currently doing my LLM at UCL. Facilities are really not impressive. LSE must have much better ones. I heard people moaning about both UCL and LSE. I am perosnaly not interested that much in the quality of facilities. What is the most important for me is the level of teaching. Again I heard people complaing about teachers from both schools. Before I chose my subjects a visited a lot of various classes and chose the best ones. Three of my teachers are/were professors in Oxford and are great. One of them is by far the best teacher I have ever seen and I am sure i will ever see. So I am very happy at UCL. However if I did not do it and chose subjects just pursuant to their titles I might have very average teachers and bad feeling about the school. And I think that it is the same everywhere.
quote
Dice
Hi Banker,

Who are these teachers and what subjects did you choose?

Thanks
Hi Banker,

Who are these teachers and what subjects did you choose?

Thanks
quote
Banker
all my subjects are suprisingly within specialization International Finance & Banking. So it depends if this is your area.....
all my subjects are suprisingly within specialization International Finance & Banking. So it depends if this is your area.....
quote
Ronin
Do you have in mind Prof Graham Penn ? If os I confirm he is impressive
Do you have in mind Prof Graham Penn ? If os I confirm he is impressive
quote
CPenny
Hi Banker. I know this is a rather old post. Am going to UCL this Sept for a similar specialization. Do you mind sharing a list of subjects you took and the experiences?

Thanks
Hi Banker. I know this is a rather old post. Am going to UCL this Sept for a similar specialization. Do you mind sharing a list of subjects you took and the experiences?

Thanks
quote
Henson
I did my LLM at UCL last year (16/17) so I might be able to give you my personal opinion.

The good thing about UCL is definitely the quality of teaching. Several of my LLM colleagues who had gone to Cambridge or Oxford for their undergraduate degrees told me that the level of teaching could certainly compete with that of Oxbridge. The teaching staff is not only world class in their field but also very accessible and down to earth.

The most negative part about UCL was the administration and the facilities. Both were, frankly speaking, horrible. Nothing seemed to be properly organised and class rooms were changed last minute without even the professor knowing. The rooms were run down and the entire campus overcrowded due to UCL's extensive expansion policy.

However, this might have changed now. The Law Faculty building had been under renovation for the past three years which forced the Law Faculty to find alternative class rooms in other university buildings. Starting this fall, however, most LLM modules will be taught at the newly renovated Bentham house. This means that the quality of the facilities, at least for law students, will improve substantially.

In summary, I had a good time at UCL. As with every program there are up's and down's and I have heard many people from other London Law Faculties (including LSE) complain as well. It is unfortunately a general trend that many law faculties expand their LLM program because they need them as vital cash cows. However, you can't really go wrong with any of them (UCL, LSE, KCL, QMUL). In the end, I got the impression that there is really not that much difference among them. Pick the place that offers the most interesting modules or professors (or more importantly: a scholarship). In the real world, it makes no actual difference whether you went to LSE, UCL or KCL. Most employers will only see that you went to a top London Uni.

[Edited by Henson on Apr 03, 2018]

I did my LLM at UCL last year (16/17) so I might be able to give you my personal opinion.

The good thing about UCL is definitely the quality of teaching. Several of my LLM colleagues who had gone to Cambridge or Oxford for their undergraduate degrees told me that the level of teaching could certainly compete with that of Oxbridge. The teaching staff is not only world class in their field but also very accessible and down to earth.

The most negative part about UCL was the administration and the facilities. Both were, frankly speaking, horrible. Nothing seemed to be properly organised and class rooms were changed last minute without even the professor knowing. The rooms were run down and the entire campus overcrowded due to UCL's extensive expansion policy.

However, this might have changed now. The Law Faculty building had been under renovation for the past three years which forced the Law Faculty to find alternative class rooms in other university buildings. Starting this fall, however, most LLM modules will be taught at the newly renovated Bentham house. This means that the quality of the facilities, at least for law students, will improve substantially.

In summary, I had a good time at UCL. As with every program there are up's and down's and I have heard many people from other London Law Faculties (including LSE) complain as well. It is unfortunately a general trend that many law faculties expand their LLM program because they need them as vital cash cows. However, you can't really go wrong with any of them (UCL, LSE, KCL, QMUL). In the end, I got the impression that there is really not that much difference among them. Pick the place that offers the most interesting modules or professors (or more importantly: a scholarship). In the real world, it makes no actual difference whether you went to LSE, UCL or KCL. Most employers will only see that you went to a top London Uni.
quote
klazo
This is general advice which probably applies regardless of whether its UCL vs LSE, or between any other two programmes - it is best to look at the courses you want to study and see if what is on offer interests you and/or is attractive to you.

For instance, I was just browsing through the UCL LLM modules list and noticed that they offers both Restitution of Unjust Enrichment (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/llm-master-laws/modules-2018-19/restitution-unjust-enrichment-lawsg108) and Commercial Remedies (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/llm-master-laws/modules-2018-19/commercial-remedies-lawsg185). These courses are considered the flagship private law courses at Oxford's BCL programme. If you look at who's teaching the courses at UCL, they are ex-Oxford faculty, who probably used to teach the subjects at Oxford. So it seems the quality of these courses would be up there with what you would get at Oxford - if these courses interest you, then certainly UCL would seem a fantastic choice.
This is general advice which probably applies regardless of whether its UCL vs LSE, or between any other two programmes - it is best to look at the courses you want to study and see if what is on offer interests you and/or is attractive to you.

For instance, I was just browsing through the UCL LLM modules list and noticed that they offers both Restitution of Unjust Enrichment (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/llm-master-laws/modules-2018-19/restitution-unjust-enrichment-lawsg108) and Commercial Remedies (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/llm-master-laws/modules-2018-19/commercial-remedies-lawsg185). These courses are considered the flagship private law courses at Oxford's BCL programme. If you look at who's teaching the courses at UCL, they are ex-Oxford faculty, who probably used to teach the subjects at Oxford. So it seems the quality of these courses would be up there with what you would get at Oxford - if these courses interest you, then certainly UCL would seem a fantastic choice.
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