National University of Singapore Faculty of Law

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National University of Singapore Faculty of Law
Motto "Asia's Global Law School"
Established 1956
School type National university
Dean Simon Chesterman
Location Singapore, Singapore
Enrollment 1200
Faculty 72

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 SMU was set up in 2007.

The Faculty is currently headed by Professor Simon Chesterman.[1] Its alumni include the current and former Chief Justice of Singapore, the current and former Attorney-General, Singapore's current and former Minister for Law, and partners in major law firms in Singapore as well as in New York and London, Hong Kong and Shanghai. A significant number of graduates have also achieved prominence in the arts.[2]


The Eu Tong Sen building and Block "B"
The slope for cars to drive up to the Bukit Timah campus. Parking is a problem in the Bukit Timah Campus. Pictured is part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The law school offers a concurrent degree in Law & Public Policy.
View of the law school
Inside Block "B": the corridors of the law school
NUS law school has won the Jessup Cup a record four times.

Dr. 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 Dr. Sheridan was appointed its first dean, while the pioneer batch of 22 law students graduated on 10 July 1961.[3]

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.[3] By the early 1990s, student exchange programmes with leading schools were established as well.[3] Over the years, with the help of grants, donations and support from its alumni in both teaching and leadership positions, the law school grew from strength to strength, and is today recognised as a respected institution for providing quality legal education.[4]

The Faculty of Law is now staffed by a permanent faculty with law degrees from more than a dozen jurisdictions, in line with its aim of being "Asia's Global Law School".[5]

Students of NUS Law enjoy access to online legal databases such as LawNet, Westlaw, Lexis Nexis and HeinOnline, as well as one of the largest and most comprehensive law libraries in the region, the CJ Koh Law Library.[6]


Degrees offered[edit]

Undergraduate students in the 4-year LL.B. programme are required to take compulsory subjects such as contract law and tort law in the first 2 years, and are allowed to take up to 18 elective subjects in the final 2 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., which runs for 4 years, 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.[7]

Students who have a prior degree from another discipline may qualify for the Graduate LL.B. Program, and will obtain their LL.B. in three years instead of four.[8]

For graduate students, the law school offers seven coursework LL.M. programs and a research Ph.D. program.[9] The coursework LL.M. programs 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 Eastern China University of Political Science and Law.[10]

Combined LL.B.-LL.M.[edit]

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, and Tsinghua University.[11]

Exchange programme[edit]

The student exchange programme was initiated in the early 1990s.

The law school now has an extensive exchange programme with dozens of law schools all over the world, such as Bocconi University, New York University, Duke University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Washington University, Georgetown University, Boston University, University College London, University of Durham, University of Bristol, University of Nottingham, University of Southampton, University of Manchester, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, University of British Columbia, McGill University, Queen's University at Kingston, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Western Ontario, University of Hong Kong, Beijing University, Tsinghua University, Fudan University, National Law School of India University, Kyushu University, Australian National University, University of Queensland, University of Auckland, University of Copenhagen, Tilburg University, Stockholm University, Bucerius Law School and more.[12]

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.[13]


NUS Law has also concluded agreements with the International Court of Justice, the World Bank and the Permanent Court of Arbitration to offer prestigious fellowships for graduates of the Faculty of Law to work at each institution. This opportunity was, until recently, offered to only the elite American and European law schools. Students selected for the fellowship will work at the ICJ in the The Hague, Netherlands, and the World Bank, United States.[14]

International mooting competitions[edit]

The faculty has enjoyed much success in international mooting competitions, emerging champions in competitions such as the Philip C. Jessup Cup, the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot,[15] the Oxford International Intellectual Property Mooting Competition,[16] the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot Competition,[17] the Asia Cup International Law Moot Competition,[18] the ICRC IHL Moot, and the Manfred Lachs space law Moot Competition.[19] With four championships, NUS has the joint-best record in the Jessup, the largest and most prestigious moot competition in the world.

Moot Debut Champion Runner-up Semi-finalist Memorial prizes Oralist prizes Remarks
Jessup 1973 1982; 1985; 1994; 2001[20][21][22] 1980; 1983; 1986; 1988; 1992; 1996; 2004[20][21] 2007; 2011[20] 1982 (2); 1983; 1985; 1987 (3); 1996; 2004; 2005; 2007; 2010[20] Prelims: 1976; 1988; 1989[20]
Final round: 1980; 1982; 1985; 1996; 2001; 2004[20][21]
Vis 2002 2002[15] 2003;[23] 2004;[24] 2005;[25] 2006 (2);[26] 2007;[27] 2008;[28] 2009;[29] 2010;[30] 2011;[31] 2013 (2);[32] 2014 2002 (2);[15] 2003 (2);[23] 2004;[24] 2007;[27] 2008;[28] 2009 (2);[29] 2012;[33] 2013;[32] 2014 (2); 2015
Vis East 2010 2015 2015 (2)
ICRC Red Cross IHL 2004 2004; 2008[21][34] 2011; 2013; 2014 2012; 2014 Joint team with SMU between 2011–2014
Price 2011
Jean-Pictet 2005 2015 2006; 2007; 2009[35] 2005; 2007; 2010[35][36]
Maritime Arbitration 2000 2000; 2001; 2010[37][38] 2013 2002[39] 2002[39] General rounds: 2002;[39] 2010
Final round: 2010
Oxford IP 2006 2006; 2008[34] 2011, 2012 2007 2012
Asia Cup 2001 2001; 2004; 2005[22][40] 2005; 2006[40] 2007[40]
LawAsia 2009
Manfred Lachs Space World: 2001[19][22]
Asia Pacific: 2000;[36][41] 2005;[42] 2010;[43] 2011[44]
World: 2005;[45] 2010;[46] 2011[47]
Asia Pacific: 2001;[21][22][48] 2002;[49] 2004;[50] 2008[34][51]
World: 2000[22][52] World: 2005;[45] 2011[47]
Asia Pacific: 2000;[41] 2001;[48] 2004;[50] 2007[53]
World: 2005;[45] 2011[47]
Asia Pacific prelims: 2008;[34][51] 2010[43]
Asia Pacific final: 2008;[34][51] 2010;[43] 2011[47]
IASLA Space 2015
Guajarat 2013
DM Harish 2015
ICC Mediation 2009
International Negotiation 2011; 2012

Research and publications[edit]

The publishes Singapore's leading scholarly publication on law and one of the oldest law journals in the Commonwealth, the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies.[54] 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),[55] and the Asian Journal of Comparative Law.[56]

Institutes and centres[edit]

The Faculty has established leading research centres in key areas.[57]

Institute/Centre Date Current Director
Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL) 1996 Lye Lin Heng
Centre for International Law (CIL) 2009 Robert Beckman
Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) 2012 Andrew Harding
Centre for Law & Business (CLB) 2013 Tan Cheng Han
Centre for Banking & Finance Law (CBFL) 2014 Dora Neo
Centre for Legal Theory (CLT) 2015 Andrew Halpin
Centre for Maritime Law (CML) 2015 Stephen Girvin
Professor Joseph Raz presented a paper on 14 January 2014.

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.[58]

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.[59]


Competition for undergraduate places in the NUS Faculty of Law is intense. The grade profile of the 10th percentile of 'A'-Level applicants offered places in its LL.B. programme in 2010 was AAA/A.[60] This meant that at least 90% of those offered places in 2010 had a grade profile of AAA/A or better at the 'A'-Levels. 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.[61]

Admissions for postgraduate studies at NUS Law generally require a good bachelor's degree in Law.[62]

Assessments and examinations[edit]

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.[63]

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. Only students who graduated in the top 5% of their class are awarded First Class Honours.[64] 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.

Student-run activities[edit]

The cast of And I Choose, the 2006 Law IV musical

The faculty has a number of student-run clubs as well as longstanding yearly traditions organised by the students and staff.


Martyrmachiavellian, a Re:productions short film in 2004

The Christmas Charity is a yearly tradition, which mainly involves the second-year students. Underprivileged children from children's homes are invited to have a day of games planned by the students. The children are also entertained by a carol concert and receive Christmas presents at the end of the program. Each child is usually accompanied by one to two students.

Law IV is also a yearly original musical/theatrical production, of which the cast and crew consist entirely of members of the graduating class. Proceeds from ticket sales go to charities adopted by the graduating class.


There are almost a dozen sub-clubs with varied interests, such as the Mooting and Debating Club (MDC), the Singapore Law Review (SLR), the Re:productions club which dabbles in film-making, ACTUS! (theatre), the law annual team, the LSIRC (law students' international relations), and pro bono.

The sub-clubs regularly organise competitions, symposia, and talks for students of the law school to participate in, such as the Mallal Moots, the Singapore Law Review writing competition, the Advocacy Cup, and the MDC-LSIRC debates.

The Law Club is generally responsible for overseeing and planning most of the school-wide activities of the law school, while the Freshmen Orientation Central Committee is tasked with organising and raising funds for the orientation programs for freshmen.


S/N Name Term of office
1. Lionel Astor Sheridan 1956-1962
2. Chua Boon Lan 1962-1963
3. Harry E Groves 1963-1964
4. Leslie C Green 1964-1965
5. James Louis Montrose 1965-1966
6. Geoffrey W Bartholomew 1966-1968
7. Thio Su Mien 1968-1971
8. Tommy Koh 1971-1974
9. S. Jayakumar 1974-1980
10. Tan Sook Yee 1980-1987
11. Tan Lee Meng 1987-1992
12. Chin Tet Yung 1992-2001
13. Tan Cheng Han 2001-2011
14. Simon Chesterman 2012-

Notable alumni[edit]


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External links[edit]