NUS Faculty of Law

The National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (NUS Law) is Singapore's oldest and largest law school. The faculty was initially established as a Department of Law in the then University of Malaya in 1956, with its first batch of students matriculating the following year. Subsequently, it served as Singapore's only law school for half a century, until the establishment of the SMU School of Law in 2007 and subsequently SUSS School of Law in 2017. The current dean is Simon Chesterman.[1]

National University of Singapore Faculty of Law
MottoAsia's Global Law School
School typeNational university
DeanSimon Chesterman
LocationSingapore, Singapore


Lionel Astor Sheridan, then a law teacher in the United Kingdom, was appointed the first Head of the Law Department of the University of Malaya in July 1956. The department attained faculty status in 1959 and Sheridan was appointed its first dean, while the pioneer batch of 22 law students, featuring the likes of Chan Sek Keong and Tommy Koh, graduated on 10 July 1961.[2]

In its formative years, alumni were frequently called upon to provide leadership and expertise to the law school as it slowly expanded. Grants were also secured to increase the number of books in the law library, and students were sent to international mooting competitions as part of the legal education.[2] By the early 1990s, student exchange programmes with leading schools were established as well.[2] Over the years, with the help of grants, donations, and support from its alumni in both teaching and leadership positions, the law faculty grew from strength to strength, and is today recognised as a respected institution for providing quality legal education.[3]

The Faculty of Law is now staffed by a permanent faculty of around 80 with law degrees from more than a dozen jurisdictions.[4]


S/NNameTerm of office
1.Lionel Astor Sheridan1956–1962
2.Chua Boon Lan1962–1963
3.Harry E. Groves1963–1964
4.Leslie C. Green1964–1965
5.James Louis Montrose1965–1966
6.Geoffrey W. Bartholomew1966–1968
7.Thio Su Mien1968–1971
8.Tommy Koh1971–1974
9.S. Jayakumar1974–1980
10.Tan Sook Yee1980–1987
11.Tan Lee Meng1987–1992
12.Chin Tet Yung1992–2001
13.Tan Cheng Han2001–2011
14.Simon Chesterman2012–


Degrees offered

Undergraduate students in the four-year LL.B. programme are required to take compulsory subjects such as contract law and tort law in the first two years, and are allowed to take up to 18 elective subjects in the final two years. Law electives include subjects on Asian legal studies and comparative law, commercial law, intellectual property and technology, maritime law, public and private international law, legal skills, and law & society. Students can also take non-law subjects for their electives, such as finance, accounting, international relations, foreign policy, and languages such as Korean, Japanese, French and German. As part of their LL.B., students can choose to take up a minor in another course of study such as economics, management, philosophy, and political science.

Apart from the traditional LL.B., the law school also offers double honours degrees in business administration & law, economics & law, law & life sciences,and a concurrent degree programme in law & public policy. Since 2013, it has also offered a double degree in partnership with the Yale-NUS College.[5]

Students who have a prior degree from another discipline may qualify for the Graduate LL.B. Programme, and will obtain their LL.B. in three years instead of four.[6]

For graduate students, the law school offers seven coursework LL.M. programmes and a research Ph.D. programme.[7] The coursework LL.M. programmes start in August and are completed the following May. Students enrolled in the International Business Law LL.M. spend a semester in Singapore before heading to Shanghai to study on the campus of East China University of Political Science and Law.[8]

Combined LL.B. and LL.M.

Building on its many exchange programmes, NUS Law enables selected students to combine completion of their LL.B. with an LL.M. from a partner institution in just four years. This is presently possible with New York University, Boston University, Erasmus University, King's College London, University of Melbourne, and University of Toronto.[9]

Exchange programme

The student exchange programme was initiated in the early 1990s. NUS Law now has an extensive exchange programme with dozens of law schools all over the world.[10]

Students usually go on the exchange programme in their third year of studies in the 4-year LL.B. Students on the exchange programme pay only tuition fees at the NUS Law rate, thus avoiding paying the often higher fees of the host institutions.[11]


NUS Law has also concluded agreements with the International Court of Justice, the World Bank and the Permanent Court of Arbitration to offer fellowships for graduates to work at each institution. Students selected for the fellowship will work at the ICJ in The Hague, Netherlands, and the World Bank, United States.[12]

International rankings and graduate employment

NUS Law has been ranked among the top twenty law schools in the world by the QS World University Rankings by Subject. It was ranked 19th in 2014,[13] 14th in 2015,[14] 15th from 2016 to 2018,[15][16][17] and 13th in 2019.[18] It is currently ranked by both QS and Times Higher Education as the top law school in Asia.[17][19]

Based on a 2018 survey of NUS graduates, NUS law graduates had a full-time permanent employment rate of 92.6% and a mean gross monthly salary of S$5,263.[20]

Moot court competitions

NUS Law has won moot court competitions such as the Philip C. Jessup Cup, the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot,[21] the Oxford International Intellectual Property Mooting Competition,[22] the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot Competition,[23] the Asia Cup International Law Moot Competition,[24] the ICRC IHL Moot, and the Manfred Lachs space law Moot Competition.[25]

Research and publications

NUS Law publishes one of Singapore's leading scholarly publication on law and one of the oldest law journals in the Commonwealth, the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies.[26] It also produces the Asian Journal of International Law (which is published by Cambridge University Press and succeeds the Singapore Year Book of International Law),[27] and the Asian Journal of Comparative Law.[28] Additionally, the Singapore Law Review,[29] which is Asia's oldest student-run legal publication, is managed exclusively by the students of NUS Law.

Institutes and centres

Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL)1996Lye Lin Heng
Centre for International Law (CIL)2009Lucy Reed
Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS)2012Dan Puchniak
Centre for Law & Business (CLB)2013Tan Cheng Han
Centre for Banking & Finance Law (CBFL)2014Dora Neo
Centre for Legal Theory (CLT)2015Andrew Halpin
Centre for Maritime Law (CML)2015Stephen Girvin

There is also a legal theory group at NUS Law known as "Jurisprudence@NUS", which organises the Singapore Symposium in Legal Theory. Notable past speakers include Joseph Raz.[30]

NUS Law also serves as the Secretariat for the Asian Law Institute, which was established in 2003, and the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL), of which Dean Simon Chesterman is Secretary-General.[31]


The grade profile of the 10th percentile of 'A'-Level applicants offered places in its LL.B. programme in 2010 was AAA/A.[32] Other than obtaining good grades, applicants are required to sit for a selection test and attend a formal interview to assess their suitability for the study of law.[33]

Admissions for postgraduate studies generally require a good bachelor's degree in law.[34]

Assessments and examinations

Students are assessed in a variety of methods, including final examinations at the end of the semester (both closed- and open-book), research papers, assignments and class participation.

The top 10% of students in each academic year are placed on the Dean's List. The top 10% of the graduating cohort, taking into account performance over 4 years in the LL.B. programme, is placed on the Overall Final Year Dean’s List.[35]

A student's class of honours for the Bachelor of Laws degree is determined by taking into account the results obtained in all subjects that the student has taken over the course of study.

Prior to Academic Year 2015/2016, only students who graduated in the top 5% of their class and obtained at least 40% As were awarded First Class Honours.[36] Students who graduate in the top 55% of their class, and who do not qualify for First Class Honours, are awarded Second Class (Upper Division) Honours.[37]

From Academic Year 2015/2016 onwards, the school announced that the top 10% of each graduating class will receive First Class Honours. More students - between 65% to 68% of each cohort - will also be awarded the Second Class (Upper Division) Honours degree.[38][39][40]

Notable alumni


  1. Archived February 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "NUS - Faculty of Law : Asia's Global Law School | History & Milestones". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  3. Priyia Paramajothi, "Asia boom sparks demand for S'pore lawyers" Archived 2007-02-11 at the Wayback Machine, Today, 15 January 2007.
  4. "NUS - Faculty of Law : Asia's Global Law School | Academic Profiles". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
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  7. "Graduate Programmes". National University of Singapore. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  8. "Course Programmes: Master of Laws (International Business Law)". National University of Singapore. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
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  13. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015 - Law". Top Universities. 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  14. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 - Law". Top Universities. 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  15. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 - Law". Top Universities. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  16. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 - Law". Top Universities. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  17. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 - Law". Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  18. "Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2019 - Law".
  19. "Ministry of Education Graduate Employment Survey 2018 - NUS" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  20. "Ninth Annual Willem C". 2002-06-05. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
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  22. Archived November 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  23. Archived May 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
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  25. "Faculty of Law, NUS - Singapore Journal of Legal Studies". 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  26. SYBIL (2008) Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, preface.
  27. "NUS - Faculty of Law : Asia's Global Law School".
  28. "Home". The Singapore Law Review. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
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  30. "Governing Bodies". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  31. "Office of Admissions : Indicative Grade Profile (IGP)". NUS. 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
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  33. "NUS - Faculty of Law : Asia's Global Law School". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
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  35. "Regulations on Class of Honours" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  36. "NUS Law Grading and Class of Honours". NUS Faculty of Law. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  37. "NUS Law School to give out more first class honours to reflect rising quality of students". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  38. "NUS Law School to give out more first class honours". Singapore Law Watch. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  39. "NUS Law School to award more 1st class honours". AsiaOne. MyPaper. Retrieved 8 March 2016.


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