"All the best schools of law have been situated at places favourable for study rather than for business." Professor Thomas Levi, Head of the Department of Law 1924.
Law has been taught at Aberystwyth since 1901. The Department has a proud tradition of scholarship and research, and has prepared generations of people from all over the world for professional careers and for life in general. Some of the most distinguished lawyers, politicians and academics in Wales, the UK and further afield have studied here.
The Department has always been dynamic and forward-looking, the addition of Criminology to the mix, has enabled us to establish the thriving Department of Law and Criminology which is here today, at the University’s Penglais campus, set against the stunning background of Cardigan Bay.
If you come here to study, you will find a stimulating, supportive and rewarding environment within a department that has a distinctive identity, a wealth of experience, excellent teaching and dynamic research activity, backed up by superb library and IT provisions.
Above all you will be taught and guided by a community of scholars whose main focus will be helping you to succeed and to fulfil your potential. It is not by accident that Aberystwyth University has been awarded University of the Year for teaching quality two years consecutively (Good University Guide, The Times and Sunday Times 2018 & 2019) and has also been honoured with Welsh University of Year in The Times and Sunday Times, Good University Guide 2020.
In addition to the exceptional teaching quality, Aberystwyth University offers a student experience that is regarded highly by its students. For three years, the University has been ranked top in England and Wales for student satisfaction.
As an undergraduate, you can study law or criminology as a single subject or together, or in combination with other subjects. We also offer specialist degrees such as Human Rights Law and Criminology and Criminal Psychology.
All our law degrees offer a good foundation for entry into the legal professions. They are qualifying law degrees for the purposes of the Bar Professional Training Course (for intending barristers) and the Legal Practice Course (for intending solicitors). These degrees as they stand will provide an excellent platform for those wishing to prepare for the new Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination, and we are planning to introduce both undergraduate and postgraduate courses that are aimed at preparing students fully for this new route to qualification as a solicitor.
Having been a legal practitioner for over thirty years, I understand the value of students acquiring practical skills and hands-on experience during their time at university. As well as excellent academic learning, the department offers many opportunities to do this. These include our Family Law Clinic, where students can do casework under the guidance of a qualified solicitor, our very active mooting society where students can acquire and practise advocacy and case preparation skills, and the opportunities to volunteer at our ground-breaking Dewis/Choice research project, which is focused on addressing the increasingly high-profile issue of abuse of elderly people.
The interests and expertise of our staff cover a wide range of subjects. Many participate in debate and policymaking at both domestic and international level. This includes working with the European Union, United Nations, Council of Europe, central and devolved governments and corporations. Human Rights and diversity are a strong focus, and we offer courses in human rights at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Issues of gender, culture, language, youth, military veterans and their families, and old age are important themes in the department’s work. Business and commercial law are also strong components of our teaching, including a specialist LLB course in business law.
Choosing a University can be a perplexing experience. There is a wide choice, and it’s not always easy to select the one that’s right for you. Having said that, if you are interested in studying Law or Criminology at an established University in a beautiful and unique part of the world, Aberystwyth can offer you a dynamic and friendly department with a focus on teaching quality.
I look forward to welcoming you at Aberystwyth.
Professor Emyr Lewis
Head of Department.
Where can a degree in Law and Criminology take you?
Our undergraduate programmes of study are diverse in the range of subjects offered. We offer the opportunity to study one subject (law, criminology) or to combine it with other disciplines – law with a minor subject or criminology as a joint subject with psychology. Students who have graduated from the Department of Law and Criminology have gone on to pursue careers as solicitors and barristers, police officers, social workers, journalists, investment bankers, teachers, and probation officers.
What does a Law and Criminology degree from Aberystwyth mean? Where can it take you?
A law degree or a criminology degree is held in high esteem all over the world. Aberystwyth University established its law degree in 1901, and since then has educated people who have achieved high office, people who have been pioneers in their field, as well as people whose contribution may not have appeared in the history books, but which has nevertheless influenced the lives of those around them. Iris de Freitas, who graduated from the Department of Law (before it became the Department of Law and Criminology) 1927 was the first woman to practise law in the Caribbean. Carwyn Jones AM was the First Minister of the National Assembly for Wales from 2009-2018. The Department of Law and Criminology has educated Ministers of State, politicians and leaders. But it has also educated people who have become solicitors in small, medium and large multi-national firms, it has educated barristers, teachers, police officers, university lecturers, journalists, television presenters, social workers, probation officers, and even actors. They all started in Aberystwyth.
Our facilities include:
- Hugh Owen Library – which contains a large and varied collection of legal materials, books, journals and law reports, with significant holdings in International Law;
200 study spaces, bookable individual and group study rooms, public computer work-stations, wireless internet access, ICT and library inquiry desks and a specialist Law librarian;
- Computing facilities – located in 26 different areas, 13 of which are always available for individual academic work as well as over 40,000 electronic journals for Law and Criminology and specialist legal databases such as Lexis and Westlaw: used commercially in the legal profession throughout the world;
- National Library of Wales – one of only 5 copy-right libraries in the UK, receiving one copy of every book published.
What do our students say about our staff?
Dr Brendan Coyle, Lecturer in Criminology
“Dr Coyle has made me love Criminology. I studied his module ‘Police, Policing and Society. Every session was full of energy and fun. He made a real effort to engage the class and ensure everyone understood what was being discussed. He truly made every lecture a jot to be in. Seminars were equally as fun. We held big group discussions as well as working in small groups to really gather knowledge on a subject. He was a joy to be taught by. Thank you for making me love my degree.”
Dr David Poyton, Lecturer in Law
“Dr Poyton was always available to meet. Always encouraging to get students the help they need from relevant sources. Very good at motivating students to do well.”
Prof Ryszard Piotrowicz, Professor of Law
“Has a genuine enthusiasm for the topics he teaches and for teaching as a whole. He creates well detailed and comprehensive handouts which accompany his teaching style well. He engages students in a fun way throughout the lectures and is always open for questions. As well as covering what is required by the curriculum he relates the law to the current news story by showing and talking about a recent news story at the beginning of a lecture. He also uses his knowledge of foreign cases and stories to compare the British law to that of other countries. Ryszard always manages to make a lecture interesting, engaging and tells the occasional joke or funny remark.”
Dr Ola Olusanya, Lecturer in Criminology
“Ola has been my personal tutor over the past 3 years that I have been studying law at Aber uni. He has been by far the most supportive member of staff during my time here, giving me help and advice and always making sure I am alright. He has also provided a reference letter for my bar application, which could be the difference between me being admitted to the bar or not. My success at university has largely been down to him.”
Ms Jen Phipps, Lecturer in Criminology
“Jen works hard to ensure that Criminology students are getting the best they can out of their time in the department and all the students who come across her love her lectures. This year Jen worked tirelessly to put on a conference for the Law & Criminology dissertation students to allow them to present their work either orally or through a poster. This let the students have a taste of a research environment without any pressure. She reassured them all in the run up to the conference that only she should be worried and stressed on the day and it put all the students at ease and allowed them to have an enjoyable day. But it isn’t just one event that Jen works hard on, as the employability co-ordinator she works hard to ensure that students are getting every opportunity to experience possible careers after their studies and that each scheme within the department has the opportunity to experience something relevant.”
Ms Janice Holloway, Lecturer in Law
“For teaching in the module; Criminal Justice and Penal System. Providing extra help in the module and making both the lectures and seminars thoroughly enjoyable.”
Dr Nathan Gibbs, Lecturer in Law
“Nathan is always positive and ambitious in what his students can achieve. He explains things thoroughly and delivers his lectures with outstanding intellect. His passion for the modules he takes is what I find most endearing and it is this which has inspired me to pursue a career in employment law. Unlike all the other modules I have genuinely enjoyed the module throughout thanks to Nathan! And he's always the most positive, happiest lecture whenever we see him around.”
What do our students say?
Coming from a small town in mid-Wales, I was slightly nervous about going to University to study law. However, Aberystwyth is such a welcoming and peaceful place, that I soon forgot about my worries. Aberystwyth is a University town so you never feel out of place walking around. The students & staff at the Department of Law & Criminology are by far some of the friendliest, which means that you never feel as though you’re out of place. I have made great friends in the department and formed meaningful relationships with staff members. Despite not being the largest department, the opportunities available to students are incredible. Staff encourage students to consider their career early on, which has helped me to determine what I would like to do once I graduate – which is to work in a legal capacity advising businesses and/or banks.
Andrew James Hall
Law is a challenging subject which stretches me each and every day and that is exactly why I enjoy it! Thanks to both the brilliant staff and the extensive resources available to students, the challenge remains one which I’ve never felt was out of my grasp. Aberystwyth itself is a great town, ideal for a variety of students. It has something to offer for everyone, and I know of no better place to make close friends. The town is very relaxed and welcoming, and when it is sunny there is no place in the UK I’d rather be.
Katie Jayne Mansell
I chose to study the LLB Law degree as I wanted to go on to train as a solicitor. One of the great things about the degree is the wide range of optional modules you can choose, and if they don't run every year, as some don't, they run every other year so you are guaranteed to have the chance to do the ones you want. Also, the staff are extremely friendly and approachable, meaning that any problems, issues or questions you have will be answered quickly and easily. Whilst it involves a lot of hard work, as does any degree, it is well worth it in the end, and you will have fun and gain experience along the way!
The combination of a brilliant course with a beautiful town is perfect. I have loved studying Law at Aberystwyth over the past 3 years. Although it has been hard work and exhausting, it has been thrilling and challenging as well. All the lecturers, tutors and staff are fantastically friendly and helpful and care about the department and the way modules are taught. The Law library houses everything you need for your degree, so you don’t need to go far. Law attracts so many different personalities and students from different backgrounds and spending 3 years with them is great. The modules offer great choice.
Criminology is a really interesting course, combining lots of different elements such as history and psychology in order to understand crime and the criminal justice system. There is a wide range of interesting modules to study, including elements of criminology, victims and crime control and prevention.
What can you expect from student life at Aberystwyth?
Aberystwyth is a place that fosters great loyalty among its former students. It is a place that people greatly miss after they have left. The student population is an important part of the town, and this gives it a vibrancy and friendliness that may be absent in larger cities. For a small town, there is a great deal going on, from student events and societies organised by the Students’ Union to events at the university’s Arts Centre. There are societies for most hobbies – and if yours isn’t listed, there’s always the opportunity to set one up yourself. As a campus university, everything is close at hand, and the halls of residence are only a 5-10 minute walk from the lecture theatres.
What to expect from academic life?
Coming to university for the first time can be a daunting experience for everybody. The Department of Law and Criminology provides a friendly supportive environment and guidance to help you to settle in to studying what, for many of you, will be a new subject. Unlike schools or college, there is a greater expectation of self-directed study. The university’s guidelines indicate that for a 10 credit module, a student will be expected to undertake around a 100 hours of study. A year of full time study comprises of 120 credits. These are divided into 6 x 20 credit modules. However, the staff will guide you on what to read and study, and there are also plenty of support facilities available – ranging from the academic (e.g. courses on writing and research) to the more personal and emotional (counselling and financial advice). Studying for a degree is also a hugely rewarding activity – hopefully you will have chosen a subject you enjoy, and there are plenty of activities and societies to cater for every taste. Teaching is done through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops, but there are also careers talks and guest lectures arranged throughout the year.
What sets us apart?
- High-quality teaching – University of the Year for Teaching Quality (The Times & The Sunday Times, The Good University Guide 2018 and 2019)
- Students are at the heart of what we do – 92% student satisfaction for Criminology (M900), 90% student satisfaction for Law (National Student Survey 2017); 92% student satisfaction for the subject of Law (NSS 2018).
- From campus to a career – 100% of our graduates were in employment or further study 6 months after graduation, 5% higher than Law graduates nationally (Higher Education Statistics Agency 2017). 77% of our graduates entered professional level employment or graduate level further study. This statistic is 3 percentage points higher than the UK figure of 74% last year (HESA 2018).
The Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth is diverse in its range of expertise. Human Rights is a strong focus, and we offer courses in human rights both as undergraduate and postgraduate options. Issues of gender, culture, language, youth and old age are important themes in the department’s work.