National University of Singapore Faculty of Law

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

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 Singapore Management University School of Law in 2007 and subsequently Singapore University of Social Sciences School of Law in 2017.

The current dean is Professor Simon Chesterman.[1] Its alumni include the current and former Chief Justices of Singapore, the current and former Attorneys-General, the current and former Ministers 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. Pictured is part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The law school offers, among others, a concurrent degree in Law & Public Policy.
View of the law school
Inside Block "B": the corridors of the law school
NUS won the Jessup Cup four times between 1973 and 2001.
NUS Bukit Timah Law Faculty Campus from the air. 2015.

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, which included the likes of Chan Sek Keong and Tommy Koh, 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 faculty 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 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.[7]

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.[8]

For graduate students, the law school offers seven coursework LL.M. programmes and a research Ph.D. programme.[9] 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.[10]

Combined LL.B. and 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, Erasmus University, King's College London, University of Melbourne, and University of Toronto.[11]

Exchange programme[edit]

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, 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 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.[14]

International rankings[edit]

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,[15] 14th in 2015,[16] 15th in 2016,[17] 15th in 2017,[18] and 15th in 2018.[19] It is currently ranked by QS as the top law school in Asia.[19]

Moot court competitions[edit]

NUS Law has emerged champions in moot court competitions such as the Philip C. Jessup Cup, the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot,[20] the Oxford International Intellectual Property Mooting Competition,[21] the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot Competition,[22] the Asia Cup International Law Moot Competition,[23] the ICRC IHL Moot, and the Manfred Lachs space law Moot Competition.[24]

Moot Debut Champion/Finalist Advanced rounds Oralist prizes Memorial prizes Remarks
Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition[25] 1973 Champion: 2001, 1994, 1985,1982

Finalist: 2004, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1986, 1983, 1980

Semi-finals: 2011, 2007, 1998, 1993, 1990

Quarter-finals: 2008, 2003, 2002, 1999

Octo-finals: 2016, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2006, 2000

Best Oralist (Prelims): 2016, 1989, 1988, 1976

Best Oralist (Finals): 2004, 2001, 1996, 1985, 1982, 1980

Top 10 Oralists: 2016 (2), 2011, 2010 (2), 2002 (2), 2001 (2), 1998, 1993 (2), 1992, 1991

National round: 2017, 2016, 2012, 2011

Best Memo: 2010, 1996, 1987 (2), 1985, 1983, 1982 (2)

National round: 2018, 2016, 2014

National round champion:

2016, 2012, 2011

Did not participate:


Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot[26] 2002 Champion: 2002 Quarter-finals: 2017, 2016, 2013 Best Oralist: 2015

HM: 2018, 2017, 2016 (3), 2014 (2), 2013, 2012, 2009 (2), 2008, 2007, 2004, 2003, 2002

Best Memo: 2013, 2004

HM: 2018(2), 2017(2), 2014, 2013, 2011(2), 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006(2), 2005, 2003

Willem C. Vis East International Commercial Arbitration Moot[27] 2008 - Semi-finals: 2016

Quarter-finals: 2015

Best Oralist: 2018

HM: 2018, 2017, 2016 (3), 2015 (3)

HM: 2018, 2017(2), 2016 (2), 2015 (2)
Vis Pre-Moots 2008 Champion: 2016 (Shanghai), 2017 (ICC)

Finalist: 2018 (PCA)

Semi-finals: 2018 (Shanghai) Best Oralist: 2018 (PCA)

HM: 2018 (2) (Shanghai)

Oxford Intellectual Property Moot[28] 2006 Champion: 2008, 2006 Semi-finals: 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011,

Quarter-finals: 2018, 2016

Best Oralist: 2012 Best Written Submissions: 2017, 2016, 2007
Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot[29] 2015 Champion: 2018

Runner-up: 2016

Semi-finals: 2015 - - Did not participate:


Price Media Law Moot Court Competition[30] 2011 - Quarter-finals: 2016

Octo-finals: 2018, 2017

- -
International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition 2009 - Semi-finals: 2016, 2015 Best Victims Rep: 2016 -
Manfred Lachs Space Moot[31] 2000 World Champion: 2001

Asia-Pac Champion: 2011, 2010, 2005, 2000

World Runner-Up: 2011, 2010, 2005

Asia-Pac Runner-Up: 2015, 2008, 2004, 2002, 2001

Asia-Pacific Semi-finals: 2009 World Finals: 2011, 2005

Asia-Pacific finals: 2011, 2010, 2008

Asia-Pacific: 2015, 2010, 2008

World Finals: 2011, 2005

Asia-Pacific: 2007, 2004, 2001, 2000

Did not participate: 2006
Asia Cup[32] 2001 Champion: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2005, 2004, 2001 - Best Oralist: 2017 (2), 2016, 2007

Top 10 Ranked: 2017 (2), 2007, 2006, 2005

Best Memo: 2016, 2005

Memo Prize: 2017

National round champion:

2018, 2017, 2016

Did not participate: 2013–2015

International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot[33] 2001 Champion: 2017, 2015, 2010, 2001, 2000

Runner-Up: 2013, 2004

Quarter-Finals: 2016, 2018 Best Oralist: 2017
IASLA Space Moot 2015 World Champion: 2017, 2016, 2015

Asia-Pac Champion: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

Best Oralist: 2015
Jean-Pictet Competition[34] 2005 Champion: 2015 Semi-Finals: 2009, 2007, 2006 2010, 2007, 2005
ICRC Red Cross IHL 2004 Champion: 2008, 2004 Semi-Finals: 2014, 2013, 2011 2014, 2012 A joint team with Singapore Management University was sent between 2011–2014
Private Law[35] 2016 Champion: 2017 Semi-Finals: 2017, 2015 Best Oralist (Finals): 2017
Nuremberg Moot Court 2015 Champion: 2016 Quarter-Finals: 2018, 2017, 2015 Best Oralist: 2016
Herbert Smith Freehills Competition Law Moot[36] 2015 Champion: 2015

Runner-Up: 2017

- Best Oralist: 2017, 2015

HM: 2017 (2)

Fletcher International Insolvency Law Moot 2017 Runner-Up: 2017 Semi-Finals: 2018
Stetson International Environmental Law Moot 2013 - SEARR Semi-Finals: 2013, 2014, 2018

International Quarter-Finals: 2013, 2014, 2018

SEARR Best Oralist: 2018
Pan-Asian Human Rights Moot Court[37] 2017 Runner-Up: 2017
Asian Law Students Association (ALSA) International Moot Court Competition[38] 2009 Champion: 2018

Runner-Up: 2018, 2016

- Best Oralist: 2016 Best Respondent Memo: 2016 Did not participate:

The faculty has also enjoyed success in domestic mooting competitions organised by law firms for students in Singapore. These competitions are platforms for students to hone their mooting skills before going on to take part in larger international mooting competitions.

Moot Subject Since 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Bashir Ahmad Mallal Moot General 1964 W W W W W W F W
Advocacy Cup Trial Advocacy 1988 W W W W W F W W
WongPartnership International Commercial Arbitration Moot Contract 2008 W W F W W W F W
Attorney-General's Cup Criminal Law 2011 W W W W F F SF W
Harry Elias General 2011 - - - - F F F F
Stamford Corporate Law Moot Corporate Law 2012 - - - - W F W -
Rodyk Challenge General 2012 - - - - F W F -
Gowling WLG IP Moot Intellectual Property 2017 W W - - - - - -

Research and publications[edit]

NUS Law publishes Singapore's leading scholarly publication on law and one of the oldest law journals in the Commonwealth, the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies.[39] 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),[40] and the Asian Journal of Comparative Law.[41] Additionally, the Singapore Law Review,[42] which is Asia's oldest student-run legal publication, is managed exclusively by the students of NUS Law.

Institutes and centres[edit]

The Faculty has established leading research centres in key areas.[43]

Institute/Centre Established Director
Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL) 1996 Lye Lin Heng
Centre for International Law (CIL) 2009 Lucy Reed
Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) 2012 Dan Puchniak
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.[44]

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.[45]


The grade profile of the 10th percentile of 'A'-Level applicants offered places in its LL.B. programme in 2010 was AAA/A.[46] 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.[47]

Admissions for postgraduate studies generally require a good bachelor's degree in law.[48]

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.[49]

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.[50] 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.[51]

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.[52][53][54]

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.


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), Justified (the faculty editorial club), the LSIRC (law students' international relations club), ELSA (Environmental Law Students' Association) 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]