University of Aberdeen School of Law

The School of Law at the University of Aberdeen dates back to the University's foundation in 1495.[1] Today, it is one of the largest law schools in Scotland, admitting some two hundred and fifty students each year, as well as over forty international exchange students.[1]

University of Aberdeen
School of Law
TypeLaw school
HeadGreg Gordon
Administrative staff
42 academic
Students960 approx.
AffiliationsUniversity of Aberdeen

The School offers both undergraduate and taught and research postgraduate degrees, as well as the Diploma in Legal Practice and Professional Competence Course.[2] The current Head of the School of Law is Greg Gordon.

The 2019 Complete University Guide league rankings placed Aberdeen at 5th in the UK.[3][4] The 2019 The Times league rankings also placed Aberdeen at 5th in the UK.[5]


National rankings
Complete (2020)[6]9
Guardian (2020)[7]9
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[8]7

The history of the School of Law began with the establishment in 1495 of King's College, Aberdeen, the original university in Aberdeen, by William Elphinstone, then Bishop of Aberdeen and himself a former lawyer. From 1505 onwards, King's College endowed two professors of law- one for Canon law, another for Civil Law. Canon law ceased to be taught at King's College due to the Reformation which saw a purging of King's professors. The latter, Civil Law, would continue to be taught at King's College, subsequently in the United University, until today[9]. The tradition have produced scholars such as T.B.Smith, Peter Stein.

In 1860, King's merged with Aberdeen's other university, Marischal College, to form the current University. However, it was not until 1895 that John Dove Wilson revived Scots Law at Aberdeen as a B.L (Bachelor of Laws) and 1910 as the LLB degree[10]. The University taught Law at Marischal College until the expansion of King's College. The School of Law and its Library subsequently moved to St.Mary's buildings until once again, was moved to its current accommodation in the Taylor Building.

Today, the School of Law has around one thousand students studying undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and houses two research centres: the Centre for Property Law and the Civil Law Centre. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the School submitted 35.7 FTE staff, the third-highest number of legal research staff in Scotland, after Glasgow (37.95) and Edinburgh (48.74). Five of the School's research submissions were rated the highest 4*, the same number as Dundee and Stirling, but behind Glasgow's fifteen, Strathclyde's twenty and Edinburgh's thirty. The School achieved thirty 3*, forty-five 2* and twenty 1* submissions.[11]

Taylor Library

The School of Law maintains its own Library located in the Taylor Building at King's College campus. It occupies two floors and play host to the University's European Documentation Centre. It currently holds over 30,000 books and is equipped with over 190 study spaces alongside with collaborative rooms for both staff and students.[12]

Aberdeen Summer Program

In addition, the School of Law plays host to the annual Aberdeen Summer Program in co-operation with the University of Baltimore School of Law and University of Maryland School of Law. The course examines comparison of U.S. and U.K. law, and is taught by Scottish and American tutors. Twenty American law students participated in the 2008 program, and thirty-two American law students are enrolled in the 2009 program.[13]

International Exchange

In between years 2 and 3 of the LLB (with a language or European Legal Studies) course, students are given the opportunity to spend time studying in another country, learning its respective legal system and possibly its language. Current options open to students include the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, Aarhus Universitet in Denmark, the University of Helsinki in Finland, the University of Auvergne, Pierre Mendès-France University and Lumière University Lyon 2 in France, the Universities of Freiburg, Marburg and Regensburg in Germany, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, the University of Bergen in Norway, Universidad de Deusto and Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, and the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town in South Africa.

Aberdeen Student Law Review

The Aberdeen Student Law Review (ASLR)[14] is a student run academic law review founded in 2010.[15] The ASLR is entirely managed, written, edited and peer-reviewed by Students and Alumni of the University of Aberdeen. It is sponsored by Stronachs LLP who also provide a prize for the best submission to the review.[16] The Hon. Lord Woolman acts as Honorary Editor and Patron of the ASLR.

Notable alumni

    Notable staff


    1. "About the School of Law". University of Aberdeen School of Law. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
    2. "Prospective Students". University of Aberdeen School of Law. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
    3. "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2019". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
    4. "University league tables 2019". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
    5. "University Guide 2016 - The Times". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
    6. "University League Table 2020". The Complete University Guide. 1 May 2019.
    7. "University league tables 2020". The Guardian. 7 June 2019.
    8. "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2020". Times Newspapers.
    9. Aberdeen University Review LIV (Aberdeen, 1991), 162
    10. Studies in the History and Development of the University of Aberdeen, A Quatercentenary Tribute, (Aberdeen, 1906), 239
    11. "RAE 2008 : Quality profiles - Law". Research Assessment Exercise. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
    12. "History of Taylor Library". University of Aberdeen School of Law. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
    13. "University of Baltimore School of Law » Aberdeen Summer Program". University of Baltimore School of Law. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
    14. "Aberdeen Student Law Review - School of Law - The University of Aberdeen".
    15. "About Us - School of Law - The University of Aberdeen".
    16. "Sponsorship - School of Law - The University of Aberdeen".
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