Law (Jurisprudence) | University of Oxford
Law
The Old Bailey, London.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

Law (Jurisprudence)

Studying law will not only give you the opportunity to qualify as a solicitor or barrister: it will also help you develop a diverse set of skills which you will be able to apply in many different situations. You will learn to assimilate and analyse complex information, construct arguments, write with precision and clarity, and think on your feet.

The Oxford Law degree aims to develop all these skills, but its particular strength is in teaching you to think for yourself. Students are expected to read a good deal, mostly from primary sources, and to develop views not simply about what the law is, but also about why it is so, whether it should be so, and how it might be different.

There are two Law courses at Oxford: Course I is a three-year course; Course II is a four-year course which follows the same syllabus, but with a third year abroad at a university in France, Germany, Italy, or Spain (studying French, German, Italian, or Spanish law), or the Netherlands (studying European and International law). Students on Course II (Law with Law Studies in Europe) gain additional skills through exposure to different legal systems and the different approaches to teaching practised by our European partner institutions.

Students who have graduated in other subjects may undertake the accelerated ‘Senior Status’ version of Course I. For further information about the courses, please refer to the Law Faculty website.

Law careers

There is no assumption that our Law graduates pursue a legal career: around 75% of Oxford Law graduates go on to the legal profession. Although Oxford Law graduates gain a BA in Jurisprudence rather than an LLB, each of the Oxford Law courses counts as a qualifying law degree so Oxford Law graduates can immediately go on to the Legal Practice Course (for solicitors) or the Bar Professional Training Course (for barristers).

Many Oxford Law graduates go on to successful careers practising law outside England and Wales. The Oxford Law courses naturally focus on English law, but the fundamental principles of English common law play a key role in other jurisdictions. Graduates of the four-year course also gain important international knowledge during their year abroad. If you want to know the status of an English law degree in another jurisdiction, please contact the relevant local regulatory body.

Amal is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London specialising in international law, human rights, extradition and criminal law. She was previously a lawyer for the United Nations in the Middle East and at various international courts in The Hague. She says: ‘Studying Law at Oxford taught me to identify what is important, challenge accepted wisdom and not be intimidated. These skills helped me follow an unusual career path that I have found fascinating and meaningful.’

A typical week

You will be studying between one and two subjects at any one time (or up to three subjects in your third year) so in any given week you are likely to have one to two tutorials of an hour each (in a group of two to four students) and to write an essay for each tutorial. Lectures are, unusually, often regarded as an optional extra in Oxford, with the tutorial system being our core form of teaching. This means you can go to as many or as few lectures in a week as you like, depending on what you think will most help your studies. On average, most students will go to two to three hours of lectures (or seminars for third year options) each week. Most of your working time (we anticipate the workload is 45 hours per week) will be devoted to reading, thinking, and writing your essays in preparation for the tutorial.

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Classes, which are generally organised by individual colleges, are usually 6-10 students. Seminars for second-year Jurisprudence mini-options and  third-year optional courses generally involve groups of no more than 30 students but may on occasion exceed that number if the seminar covers more than one option.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

1st year (terms 1 and 2)

Courses

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • A Roman introduction to private law
  • Research skills and mooting programme

For those on Course II, there are also French/German/Italian/Spanish law and language classes during the first six terms, or, for those going to the Netherlands, introductory Dutch language courses in the second year

Assessment

First University examinations:

Three written papers: one each in Criminal law, Constitutional law and a Roman introduction to private law

1st year (term 3), 2nd and 3rd (4th) years

Courses

  • Tort law
  • Contract law
  • Trusts
  • Land law
  • Administrative law
  • European Union law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Two optional subjects, chosen from a very wide range of options
  • Course II: year 3 is spent abroad
 A full list of current options is available on the Law website.

Assessment

Final University examinations:
  • Tort law, Contract law, Trusts, Land law, Administrative law, European law: one written paper each at the end of the final year
  • Jurisprudence: one shorter written paper at the end of the final year, plus an essay written in the summer vacation at the end of the second year
  • Two optional subjects: normally written papers but methods of assessment may vary
Course II students will also be assessed during their year abroad by the university they attend.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Candidates are also expected to have at least a C/4 grade in GCSE Mathematics, or other evidence to demonstrate that they are appropriately numerate. We accept any subjects at A-level except General Studies. To study in France, Germany or Spain candidates would be expected to have the relevant modern language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. To study in Italy, candidates may be admitted without A-level Italian, though they would be expected to demonstrate sufficient language aptitude to be able to achieve the standard required to study successfully in Italy during the year abroad. Intensive language training will be offered during the first two years of the course. We expect you to have taken and passed any practical component in your chosen science subjects.

All candidates must also take the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) as part of their application. Please see how to apply for further details.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£26,235

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Law (Jurisprudence)

Students taking Law with Law Studies in Europe will spend the third year of this course abroad. As you will be studying a full year of courses in your host university we do not recommend that you plan to do any regular paid work while you are away.

During the year abroad, students pay significantly reduced fees. For students who started an undergraduate course in 2017, who are going on their year abroad in 2019, the course fees are:

  • Home/EU/Islands students: £1,385 for the year.
  • International students: £8,415 for the year.

For further information, please see the website below for the relevant country:

Home/EU students studying abroad are currently considered for government grants and loans in the same way as when studying in Oxford, based upon the standard eligibility criteria. Students who are means tested in their application for government support will be automatically assessed for an Oxford Bursary and may be eligible for a travel grant. 

If the UK continues to be eligible to participate in the Erasmus+ Programme after leaving the EU, an Erasmus+ grant may also be available to Home/EU and international students. As a guide, students in 2018/19 would receive between €300 and €470 a month depending on their individual circumstances. For students going to France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands or Spain, there is a one-off grant of £500 from London law firm Clifford Chance. Students in Paris may be able to apply for housing benefit, which in 2017/18 was about €165 a month.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written test

All candidates applying to study Law at Oxford for entry in 2019 (or for deferred entry in 2020) must sit the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) between 1 September and 20 October 2018. A number of other universities also require candidates to sit this test.

The expectation is that you will take the test onscreen in a test centre near your home. It will be a test of your aptitudes rather than your knowledge. Your performance in this test will be used as an additional factor in deciding whether to interview you and whether to offer you a place. Test centres are now located internationally. For further details, a specimen paper and information on how to register, please see www.lnat.ac.uk.

Candidates for Law with Law Studies in Europe who are applying for the French, German, Italian or Spanish law options may be given an oral test in the relevant European language at the time of interview.

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

For more on admissions, including a video of a demonstration interview, please see the Law Faculty website.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Law Faculty website.

Suggested reading

We recommend that you start by reading the court reports in broad sheet newspapers.

As the reading lists for the degree course change each year it isn't always advisable to buy text books in advance, but you may find one or more of the books from the following list useful when preparing your application: Introductory reading for Law. It can be useful to look at the list of law academics on the departmental website and follow the links to their latest publications. All lecturers have their own lists, which change from year to year and include books and journal articles.

You may also like to read the BBC's website Law in Action, and download their podcasts. Other recommendations are the Guardian's law pages and Counsel magazine.

Apply

Kathryn Vickers

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.

Tamsin

'Studying Law at Oxford is a unique experience. I feel I have learnt as much about politics, philosophy and sociology as I have about the law! It equips me with the fullest understanding of the law possible. The reasons behind studying something so abstract as Jurisprudence or Roman Law seemed incomprehensible at first, but it all became clear once I started studying them. For example, the ability to see how contract interacts with tort law will help now in exams, as well as when the time comes to leave university and start a career.

Although at first the transition from A-level to university study was a daunting prospect, I soon adapted to Oxford’s distinct methods of teaching. Fellow students and tutors are also always on hand when I find a particular topic tricky or don’t know the meaning of a particular piece of the legal jargon that judges are so fond of using! Tutorials are also a great way to express ideas and queries, although I have to be prepared to fight my corner as no doubt my view will not be held by all. Even if a tutor does agree, they will generally play devil’s advocate so that I learn to reinforce my assertions and develop the skill of being able to express both sides of an argument.

I’ve become used to the workload and managing my own time rather than having a strict timetable of classes.

The beauty of having such freedom as to when I study means that there are lots of opportunities to experience Oxford in full and try out new hobbies or interests.

I have been involved in my college JCR as Academic and Admissions Rep. This role has allowed me to become heavily involved in the politics of the college and to experience something entirely different from my studies.'

Joanna

She is currently the Private & Legal Secretary to the Chancellor of the High Court. She says: 

‘I regularly draw on the skills I developed at Oxford. If a judge asks me to research a point of law I not only use my research skills and ability to conduct legal analysis, but I also rely on the confidence I developed in tutorials to put across my findings and my opinion.’

Charlie

The most unexpected thing about my course:

'The number of opportunities to meet with other lawyers, including current students, tutors and alumni, in social settings.'

The best thing that Oxford did for me:

'It instilled confidence in me so that I can really develop my skills in all areas of life - and therefore be very happy!'

My favourite Oxford memory is...

'Watching the US presidential election results in the JCR at 4am with fellow students who were equally as passionate about international politics as I was. It was a really amazing experience to be able to share something so important with so many people who had the same interests as me.'

I'd just like to add:

'Going to any university will change your life, but going to Oxford will change it in ways you can't really think about when you apply. I have gained so much confidence since I came here. Now I worry less about everything, and I am able to enjoy life to the fullest. Oxford will teach you how to shine without changing who you are.'    

Sebastian

The most unexpected thing about my course:

'The profs were very friendly and supportive, even when I had rather silly questions to ask and obscure ideas to bounce around.'

I wish they'd told me when I was applying to university...

'Talk to as many students as possible when deciding on college preferences.'

The best thing that Oxford did for me:

'Made me much more confident in my intellectual ability and opened up a whole new world of scholarship for me.'

My favourite Oxford memory is...

'Late night debating about the intricacies of the Greco-Persian Wars in a fish and chip shop on Cowley Road after a bop.'

I'd just like to add:

'Oxford is what you make of it: the most rewarding moments often come unexpectedly outside of studies... so go out there and meet some interesting people!'

Verity

The most unexpected thing about my course:

'...was when my tutor for Roman Law started whipping out some unusual props to illustrate various private law concepts. A most memorable tutorial involved chocolate coins, which were used to demonstrate a peculiar type of loan agreement - they mysteriously reduced in number as the tutorial progressed!'

I wish they'd told me when I was applying to university...

'...that it's only really worth applying for something you absolutely love, even in the face of daunting acceptance statistics.'

The best thing that Oxford did for me:

'Was to show me that uncovering the controversies and complexities of my subject (law) is an utterly fascinating, fulfilling and exciting experience. The notion that something is worth studying for its own merit is embraced here.'

My favourite Oxford memory is...

'...when I was coerced into performing solo interpretative dance as part of my JCR election hustings. I vocally complained at the time, but secretly loved it.'

Ruth

First job after graduating

Executive Officer in the NHS Primary Care division of the British Medical Association.

Current job

I am currently a Senior Policy Advisor in the Medical Ethics and Human Rights Department of the British Medical Association, where I am responsible for providing expert advice and guidance on ethical and medico-legal issues facing doctors. I have a specialist interest in end of life issues, assisted dying, and health-related human rights.

How did Oxford prepare you for this type of work?

Without studying my course at Oxford, I would have never discovered my passion for medical law and ethics! The academically challenging and rigorous nature of the tutorial system taught me to not only be able to clearly articulate an argument, but to be able to analyse, critique and defend my own arguments and those of others - skills which are vital in my current role, where I often have to construct complex policy arguments on a near daily basis. Learning how to balance a challenging work load, and being able to self-motivate and work independently, are skills which have also served me well in my current job, which requires me to work autonomously whilst balancing a number of different competing priorities.

What was the most important thing your time at Oxford taught you?

The tutorial system equipped me with a huge amount of confidence in clearly communicating orally, and being able to respond to any questions or counterarguments that might be thrown at me! I rarely feel flustered or anxious in big meetings, presentations, or interviews.

Laura

First job after graduating

I went straight to my training contract with an international law firm.

Current job

I am a finance lawyer, specialising in structured commodity trade finance.

How did Oxford prepare you for this type of work?

The time at Oxford was tremendously helpful in teaching me how to think through problems myself and explain my reasoning in a clear, concise manner- skills I have needed in my job.

What was the most important thing your time at Oxford taught you?

Gave me a belief in myself that I could tackle almost any problem and showed me that asking for help was not a sign of weakness.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

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