The best university in South Africa to study law

 ·5 Oct 2017

Times Higher Education (THE) recently published its university ranking for 2017/18, listing the top global tertiary institutions – including eight from South Africa.

The Times Higher Education university rankings is based on performance across five main indicators: teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

The ranking puts a strong focus on reputation, considering hundreds of thousands of data points on more than 1,500 leading global research universities, selected for analysis on the strength of their record in international research and on their global academic reputation.

THE has compiled a list of the top 100 institutions for law, which includes the University of Pretoria – remarkable considering that it ranks between 600-800 globally, overall.

The rankings’ table for law subjects employs the same rigorous and balanced range of 13 performance indicators used in the overall World University Rankings, but the methodology has been recalibrated to suit the individual fields.

The law table reveals a much more diverse list than the overall THE World University Rankings table.

While Switzerland is the only country outside of the US and the UK that makes the top 20 of the THE World University Rankings, universities in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and the Netherlands achieve the same heights in the law table.

Australia’s University of Melbourne and Canada’s University of Toronto both break into the top 10.

But the ranking is led by four prestigious institutions in the US – Duke, Stanford, Yale and Chicago.

  • Duke University (17th)
  • Stanford University (3rd)
  • Yale University (12th)
  • University of Chicago (9th)
  • University of Cambridge (2nd)
  • University of Oxford (1st)
  • University of Melbourne (32nd)
  • University College London (16th)
  • Harvard University (6th)
  • University of Toronto (22nd)

The figure in brackets represents the overall ranking for each university.


A salary survey by professional recruitment firm, Robert Walters, lays out the hiring and salary trends in the legal sector in South Africa in 2017.

Read: How much lawyers get paid in South Africa

Overall university ranking

# University Global rank Score*
1 University of Cape Town 171 54.4
2 University of the Witwatersrand 251-300 45.6
3 Stellenbosch University 351-400 41.4
4 University of KwaZulu Natal 401-500 37.2
6 University of Pretoria 601-800 29.8
5 University of Johannesburg 601-800 29.0
7 University of the Western Cape 601-800 27.1
8 University of South Africa 801-1000 16.5

Social sciences

Another subject specific ranking that features South African universities is within the social sciences – which includes six local institutions within the world’s top 400.

Here, the University of Cape Town is the only university to score within the top 150 (between 100 and 125th), while Wits university is ranked within the top 250.


Read: The degrees that offer the best starting salary in South Africa

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