Life / Student life

Selection into second-year Law at Victoria University of Wellington

by Tina Chen-Xu

(Information provided from

Selection into second-year Law at Victoria University of Wellington as a first-year applicant

Congratulations on choosing to enrol in first year law at Victoria! Entry into 200-level LAWS courses at Victoria is limited as there are a limited amount of spaces available. Entry into second-year can be reliant on the performance of the cohort that you are applying with. There are approximately 300 spaces available for the 200-level LAWS courses. In order to make selection into second-year law, it is also a mixture of perseverance and the decision to commit to a law degree.

In second and third year, Victoria law students are required to complete all five 200-level LAWS courses;


LAWS 211 – 214 courses are taken over trimester one and trimester two and are considered full year papers. LAWS 297 is taken over trimester one and finishes halfway through trimester two. It is highly recommended that students complete all five 200-level LAWS courses over two years as it is a considerable step up from 100-level LAWS courses. It is mandatory to take LAWS 297 in the first year of the 200-level LAWS papers.


Preferential Entry

For preferential entry you must have:

These students will be offered places in Law School generally in December and are sent an email.

If there are more applicants than places, students will be ranked and selected according to their LAWS grade point average. This is calculated by taking the student’s highest LAWS passing grades.


Other first-time applicants

Once preferential entry applicants have been considered, all other students who have passed LAWS 121, 122, and 123 will be ranked and selected according to their LAWS grade point average.


Victoria University has the following grade point average:

Grade Point
A+ 9
A 8
A- 7
B+ 6
B 5
B- 4
C+ 3
C 2
C- 1
D, E, K, L 0


An example of calculating the grade point average over the LAWS courses is as follows:


Course Grade Point Grade Point Average
LAWS 121 B+ 6 6 + 8 + 3 = 17

17 ÷ 3 = 5.6

= GPA 5.6 (B+)

LAWS 122 A 8
LAWS 123 C+ 3


As shown above, you do not need a “B+” in every 100-level LAWS paper. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses with each of the 100-level LAWS papers.


Transferring students

In the case of students who have completed their 100-level LAWS course(s) at another university, but who have not previously enrolled in a 200-level LAWS course, those students must have a grade point average of 6 (B+) or better over their 100-level LAWS courses.

In the case of students who have commenced but not completed second year at another university, those students must have passed more than 50 percent of all previous 200 level LAW points in respect of which they have received a grade (i.e. a passing grade or any failing grade).

Transferring students who meet either of these criteria will be ranked behind students who are eligible for preferential entry, but ahead of other first-time applicants.


Māori admissions process

A supplementary admission process is also run to assess tangata whenua students for entry into second-year LAWS courses if they would not otherwise be considered. Ten percent of available places in each second-year LAWS course are reserved for Māori students applying under the Māori Admissions Process.

You must indicate your wish to be considered under this process when filling out enrolment applications. Applicants must have passed all the prerequisite courses. Applicants applying under this process are invited to attend an interview in January or February of the beginning of the 200-level LAWS courses. You will be interviewed by a panel normally comprising members of the Māori community, Law Faculty, and Māori legal practitioners.

Successful applicants need to demonstrate that they will be able to complete the expected workload, personally attend the interview, be committed to attending tutorial support programmes for the year, agree to meet with the Kaitakawaenga Māori, Māori Law Students Coordinator as necessary during the year, and demonstrate a commitment to kaupapa Māori.


Exceptional circumstances

Although the above criteria will be the primary basis for admission to second-year Law, students who have met the pre-requisites to apply for second-year law but failed to satisfy the other entry criteria listed above can seek selection into second-year courses on the basis of exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances are circumstances that mean the application of the entry criteria provides an inappropriate or incomplete impression of a person’s ability as a law student and that justify ranking them ahead of applicants who have stronger qualifications for admission in terms of this policy.

The documentation of exceptional circumstances must be made on the Faculty’s form in writing and be submitted by 1 December of the year prior to study; late applications cannot be considered.


Guidance for LAWS 121

LAWS 121 – Introduction to New Zealand Legal System

You must pass LAWS 121 in order to progress to LAWS 122 and LAWS 123. This is an introductory course into law, the New Zealand legal system, and to the core skills of interpretation and analysis.

You’ll be told in your first LAWS 121 lecture to “Look to the person to the left of you, look to the person to the right of you. Only one of you will make it into second-year.” While this sounds a daunting prospect in a 300-person lecture theatre, this is dependent on a lot of factors.

These factors are:

  • Approximately 1,000+ students enrol in LAWS 121. A certain number of students will withdraw from LAWS 121 before the semester ends. You will notice that as the weeks progress, the number of students attending the LAWS 121 lectures will drop.
  • A significant number of students will withdraw from LAWS 121 after the first test. Every year, around 40 – 50% of the cohort will fail the first test.
  • After LAWS 121, approximately 500 students will decide to continue on to LAWS 122 and 123.
  • A certain number of students will fail terms requirements by not attending tutorials. Tutorials are mandatory to attend and you will miss out on valuable information.

Failing the first LAWS 121 Test

This is not a reflection of your future performance at law school! The LAWS 121 test is essentially an exercise in “rote learning” which is a memorisation technique based on repetition. You are required to quickly recall material that has been covered in a time pressured environment. You will learn about the “one minute, one mark” approach which is prominent throughout law school.

Important Tips

  • Attend your classes and tutorials
  • Talk to your tutors – they are not scary and intimidating! They will not be annoyed by your questions either, they are paid to do their job which is to tutor you. Tutors will have office hours to be available to talk in person and most students don’t take advantage of these hours.
  • Do your readings – you need to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the content you are learning and be able to answer under the Socratic method.
  • Don’t stress about the Socratic method! It is scary to be asked in front of your peers, but lecturers are not actively out to persecute you. It is fine to acknowledge that you do not know the answer to a question. When a lecturer asks multiple questions of you, they are just trying to direct you to the correct answer.

Overall, LAWS 121 has been called the “least law-like paper at law school”. It is recommended you try LAWS 122 and LAWS 123 before you consider the possibility of law degree. Many people do give up after LAWS 121.


For entry requirements for University of Auckland, AUT, University of Canterbury, University of Otago and University of Waikato check out the links below: