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.
You will choose four courses from a list of around 40 different options, including a dissertation option. All options are taught by a combination of lectures and/or seminars and tutorials apart from the dissertation option, 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 two or three students, 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.
All course options are examined by timed examinations at the end of the course - with the exception of the Jurisprudence and Political Theory option, which is examined by three assessed essays, and the dissertation option. Timed examinations comprise a three-hour examination for each option, in which students typically answer three questions from a list of eight.
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 the course
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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Entrance is very competitive and applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications) in law.
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.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA usually sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions 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.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Law Faculty to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- 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 the Law Faculty.
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 sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
The Law Faculty is fortunate to have outstanding library facilities provided by the Bodleian Law Library, which benefits from the deposit of legal materials published in Great Britain, and shares in the advantages of being part of the largest university library in the country. The law library has undergone an extensive refurbishment which has resulted in upgraded facilities for all students.
Currently, the Law Library offers the vast majority of its holdings - some 550,000 items - on open shelves across four floors. Older legislation is housed in the Book storage facility and is retrievable within half a day. The library serves a large community of postgraduate readers and academics in their research requirements. In particular, it has excellent UK, US, French, German, Italian and Spanish resources, extensive Commonwealth materials, strong European Union and international law collections. It also has extensive holdings in the philosophy and sociology of law, legal history, comparative law, criminology and Roman law. To complement the paper collection, the law library provides extensive online legal resources, with databases from many jurisdictions and covering many legal topics.
The library has over 50 workstations for the use of readers, each providing access to the internet, legal databases, Microsoft Office applications and Endnote. There is a Graduate Reading Room with network connections and a wireless network which covers most of the library. Three small discussion rooms, and a larger seminar room, can be booked for small group work. The law librarians offer a range of research classes to support specific research needs of graduate students, and provide one-on-one advisory research support for researchers.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Annual fees for entry in 2017-18
Total annual fees
The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).
For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
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 tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 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 following colleges accept students on the Bachelor of Civil Law:
- Balliol College
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Christ Church
- Corpus Christi College
- Exeter College
- Harris Manchester College
- Hertford College
- Jesus College
- Keble College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Magdalen College
- Mansfield College
- Merton College
- New College
- Oriel College
- Pembroke College
- The Queen's College
- Regent's Park College
- St Anne's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hilda's College
- St Hugh's College
- St John's College
- St Peter's College
- Somerville College
- Trinity College
- University College
- Wadham College
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
How to apply
You do not need to make contact with academic staff before you apply. All course information is available via the Law Faculty website.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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.
Around 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.
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 will be assessed for your reasons for applying, evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study and your ability to present a reasoned case in English.
One essay 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.
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.
References/letters of recommendation:
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.