About the course
The Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) is a world-renowned taught graduate course in law, designed to serve outstanding law students from common law backgrounds. The academic standard is significantly higher than that required in a first law degree, and only those with outstanding first law degrees are admitted.
The programme comprises approximately forty full options (including a dissertation option) and eight to ten half-options. A list of the options can be found on the course page of the Law Faculty website.
Students must choose either four full options, or three full options and two half-options, or two full options and four half-options. All options are taught by a combination of seminars and tutorials (some also offer lectures) with the exception of the dissertation, which involves one-to- one sessions with an assigned supervisor.
Seminars are normally led by a senior member of academic staff but are typically interactive in nature, and you will be expected to participate in the discussions arising from the material covered. Tutorials involve an intensive discussion between a tutor and a small group of students, usually between two and four, providing an opportunity for you to present your ideas and discuss your work with leading academics. Typically, seminars will introduce you to a particular area of study and familiarise you with general concepts and ideas which will then be investigated in greater depth in the tutorials. For most tutorials you will be expected to write an essay, which typically will be marked and returned to you at the next tutorial.
Outside of the seminars and tutorials, you will be expected to read extensively in order to acquire the necessary knowledge to engage with course material at an appropriate level. The balance between teaching and independent study will vary from option to option, but as a rough guide, a student may expect a ratio of four hours of independent study to every one hour of teaching.
For this course, the allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Law Faculty and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside of the Law Faculty.
BCL students have an academic advisor rather than a supervisor, who will meet with the students at the beginning of the academic year and then usually once a term for the remainder of the academic year. The academic advisor gives general advice and provides an oversight of the student’s progress, with detailed academic advice provided by those who teach on the particular options the student is taking. Students will be expected to spend at least 45 hours studying each week during term, and to undertake some further study during vacations.
Most options are assessed by means of timed examinations at the end of the course but a number use assessed essays written over a longer period. Further information about forms of assessment is provided on the Law Faculty BCL admissions page.
BCL graduates pursue a range of careers after completion of the degree. The most common career paths are entry into legal practice, either as a solicitor or a barrister, or progression to academic research in the shape of the MPhil and DPhil, and thenceforth into an academic career.
The University of Oxford has an excellent careers service with which the department has close ties. The Careers Service organises a number of events of specific interest to students wishing to pursue a career in law, and offers one-to-one advice from members of staff with knowledge and experience specific to the legal sector.
The Law Faculty has an extensive network of relationships within the legal profession and each year offers a number of talks and events run by law firms and barristers’ chambers.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class undergraduate degree with honours in law.
Entrance is very competitive.
In the absence of an undergraduate degree in law, candidates may be admitted with a postgraduate diploma or master's qualification in law at distinction level, though this is rare and is generally only possible if the candidate has completed the programme in question before applying for the BCL.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA usually sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- This is an academic programme and therefore positions held in the legal profession are not usually a consideration in the assessment process.
- Publications are not expected. They may, in certain circumstances, advantage an application but it is appreciated that the opportunity to publish may vary considerably depending on factors such as the stage the student has reached in their graduate career and the structure of the course(s) they have studied. Consequently, a lack of publications will not be assessed negatively.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The Law Faculty is fortunate to have outstanding library facilities provided by the Bodleian Law Library. As part of the Bodleian, the Law Library shares in all the advantages of being part of the largest university library in the country, including the receipt, under legal deposit legislation, of legal material published in the UK and Ireland.
The Law Library offers the vast majority of its holdings - some 550,000 items - on open shelves across four floors. Selected low-use material is housed in a book storage facility and is retrievable within half a day. The library serves a large community of graduate readers and academics in their research requirements. The strength of the collection lies in the depth of its UK holdings, combined with extensive holdings for European and Commonwealth jurisdictions. In addition the library holds materials relating to international law, Roman law, and jurisprudence. To complement the paper collection, the Law Library provides a wide range of online legal resources. The Bodleian’s collection of Official Papers is also housed in the Law Library.
The library has 40 reader workstations, which provide access to the internet, legal databases, and Microsoft Office applications. There is a Graduate Reading Room, a large seminar room, two IT rooms and three small ‘discussion rooms’ for private study or group work. The wireless network extends throughout the library. The law librarians offer a range of classes and one-to-one sessions to support the specific research needs of graduate students.
Oxford’s Faculty of Law, one of the largest in the UK, offers you the opportunity to study alongside some of the best law graduates of your generation, under the direct supervision of some of the world’s leading legal scholars.
Oxford's reputation for master's-level legal education has few equals. All of the courses on offer involve intensive work to a very high academic standard, and the BCL and MJur are exceptional in their use of tutorials as a principal means of course delivery. Both of these programmes offer an extensive variety of options and the opportunity to specialise in certain fields or to select a diverse combination of courses. For those with more specialist interests, the faculty also offers the MSc in Law and Finance, the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, the MSc in Taxation, and the Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice, the MSc in Intellectual Property, and the MSc in International Human Rights Law (formerly known as the MSt in International Human Rights Law and offered by the Department of Continuing Education).
For its research students, the faculty offers a wider range of legal and interdisciplinary specialisms corresponding to the diverse interests of faculty members. For many research students the ultimate goal will be a DPhil, the Oxford term for a doctoral qualification, but the faculty also offers a one-year MPhil course which can either be taken in its own right or as a route into the DPhil. As a research student, you can expect to work closely with a specialist supervisor who will help you develop your ideas and pursue your thesis to a successful conclusion.
Research students play a central role in the intellectual life of the faculty, collaborating in numerous discussion groups and colloquia and participating in many BCL, MJur and MSc course seminars.
Centre for Criminology
Pursuing an innovative programme of criminological research and delivering high quality education.
The Centre for Criminology is an independent unit of the University’s Faculty of Law. The centre is dedicated to pursuing an innovative programme of criminological research and to delivering high-quality graduate education in criminology. It has a vibrant programme of research, aimed principally at fostering and developing clusters of research activity around seven substantive areas:
- security, rights and justice
- penal culture, policy and practice
- politics, legitimacy and criminal justice
- crime and the family
- psychology, criminal justice and law
- victims and victimisation
- criminal justice, citizenship and migration.
Members of the centre are committed to:
- connecting criminological work to the broader concerns of the social sciences;
- thinking comparatively about crime and punishment;
- bringing together sociological and normative approaches to the analysis of crime and justice; and
- working at the intersections between criminology and public policy.
These approaches to the study of crime and criminal justice inform teaching and doctoral supervision in the centre. They create an intellectually stimulating and collaborative environment to pursue your study in criminology.
Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
At the forefront of multidisciplinary research into the nature and role of law in society.
The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) brings together scholars with diverse academic backgrounds and ambitions, who pursue their own research topics and are also encouraged to collaborate widely and develop multifaceted research programmes. Researchers address fundamental questions about the nature of law, its relations with morality, religion, and justice, and its role in regulation, government and community, the nature of rules and legalistic thought, the development of laws, legal systems and legal cultures, and the social character of the rule of law.
The CSLS welcomes students who wish to pursue research in any aspect of socio-legal studies, broadly defined. The centre's staff have a range of expertise in socio-legal research and methodologies and draw on a range of cognate fields, including anthropology, jurisprudence, political science, regulation studies, economics and sociology. Supervision can be offered in most areas of social-legal studies.
The CSLS has a community of around thirteen full-time research staff and thirty-three graduate research students. Links with leading scholars in Oxford’s Faculty of Law and throughout the University enhance the breadth of the centre’s research and the resources made available to students.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students on the Bachelor of Civil Law:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic strongly preferred
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Academic references are strongly preferred; a professional reference will be accepted if you also provide two academic references, but if you are in a position to provide three academic references then it is recommended that you do so.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
A maximum of 300 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your academic history and relevant experience, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The personal statement generally plays a less important role in the Law Faculty's assessment of applications than the references, written work, and academic qualifications.
This may be assessed on your ability to present a reasoned case in English if this cannot be established from the rest of the application; but in most cases the statement will not constitute part of the formal assessment, though may provide information relevant to consideration for scholarships.
One essay, a maximum of 2,000 words
The work must be written in English and on a legal topic. Academic work from your most recent qualification is preferred, but work written in a professional context may be submitted if academic work is not readily available.
Your written work may be an extract of the required length from a longer piece - in such cases, the work should be prefaced by a note which puts it in context.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area, an understanding of problems in the area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, your powers of analysis and your powers of expression.