Why Study Law?
Law is a fascinating subject to study because it influences so many aspects of our daily lives and offers unique insights into how societies work. It is an incredibly rich and deep academic discipline, allowing students to study everything from ancient philosophy to the regulation of e-commerce. Few subjects offer that breadth or scope and if that is something that appeals to you, you should definitely consider studying Law.
The study of Law at Cambridge is academic and not, in principle, vocational. Completing the Law degree is not a qualification for practice. However, many students study Law in order to prepare for vocational training as a solicitor or barrister. Law graduates also go on to work in a range of other professions, from official roles in companies to civil service, politics and journalism. This is because studying Law equips you with a range of transferable skills. The course focuses heavily on problem-solving, abstract thinking, evaluating evidence and critical analysis. Successful Law students also develop excellent writing skills, time management and presentation skills.
The Law Tripos
Law is a three-year course (called the Law Tripos). In first year, students study four foundation subjects:
- Constitutional Law,
- Civil (Roman) Law,
- Criminal Law
- Tort Law.
In second and third years students typically study five subjects per year with 4 compulsory subjects and 6 elective subjects. The compulsory subjects are
- Contract Law,
- Land Law,
- Equity and Trusts
- European Union Law
The elective options available can vary each year, students typically have the option to study a very wide range of subjects including:
- Public International Law,
- Family Law,
- Administrative Law
- Corporate Law.
In third year, students have the option to write a dissertation on an area of Law of their choosing. They will work closely with a specific academic supervisor and gain valuable independent research and project management experience. Students also have the option of studying abroad for their third year at one of the University’s partner institutions or spend a year as an Erasmus student in France, Spain or the Netherlands, though these options may change as the UK leaves the EU.
Teaching is split between the Law Faculty and the Colleges. Students will typically have lectures at the Law Faculty building, located on the Sidgwick site, each day alongside other students studying Law in their year group at other Colleges. Each student is assigned a supervisor for their subject, typically an expert in that field, who is in charge of teaching them in supervisions (small group classes) usually in Homerton College or at another College. These classes are very small groups, typically 2 or 3 people, they focus on a specific subject area that correlates with what students are studying in lectures. Students typically have 9 substantive supervisions per subject and are required to submit 5 essays over the course of the academic year. Students receive individual feedback on their written work throughout the year from their supervisors. While official examinations are administered by the Faculty of Law, mock exams take place termly in College to help students prepare before the end of year exams.
Students are also assigned a Director of Studies within their College who oversees their academic work, assists them in choosing electives and provides academic guidance.
There are a number of Law Fellows at Homerton and we offer supervision for the majority of the core subjects, with other subjects covered by supervisors in other Colleges.
- Dr. Veronika Fikfak – Lecturer and Director of Studies
- Dr. Stuart Wallace - Lecturer and Director of Studies
- Dr Hayk Kupelyants - Clifford Chance Lecturer in the Conflict of Laws and Director of Studies
- Dr Hayley Hooper – Junior Research Fellow in Law
What Are Supervisions Like?
The supervision system in Cambridge ensures very strong engagement between teaching staff and students. One of the stand out features of this system is the class size. Where other universities conduct ‘small’ group teaching in groups of anything between 6 and 20, at Cambridge supervisions will rarely have more than 3 people. This facilitates much greater engagement and discussion of topics and will often reveal what the students are struggling to understand much more quickly. In advance of supervisions, students are given a list of things that they should read before attending supervision and a list of questions that they should prepare to answer.
Homerton typically accepts 8 or 9 students to study Law each year from a variety of different educational backgrounds. All students have academic excellence in common. There are approximately 30 Law students (undergraduates and postgraduates) studying in the College at any given time. The profile of the students studying Law here varies widely. We have a number of students from the UK, EU and all over the world, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Canada and Thailand.
What we are looking for in a Law student?
The qualities we are looking for in a Law student are as follows
- Outstanding command of English.
- Outstanding educational record.
- A keen eye for detail.
- The ability to analyse information quickly and accurately.
- The ability to construct a convincing argument.
- Organisation and time management skills.
- Ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
Preparing to Apply
There is no perfect diet of subjects to study at secondary level to prepare for studying Law. However, there are a few things students should consider when making their subject choices.
Law students have to read a great deal as part of their studies. Students will be assigned materials to read for their supervisions, which can be upwards of 200 pages per supervision. It is essential that they like reading and have excellent English language proficiency. Many issues in Law will turn on the nuanced interpretation of individual words, the ability to understand such nuances is therefore paramount. Law students also have to write a number of essays as part of their degree, at least 25 essays over the course of an academic year. Studying subjects that develop essay writing skills and English language proficiency at secondary level are therefore beneficial. Studying other languages can also help to develop students’ linguistic skills.
An understanding of history is beneficial when trying to understand a number of legal subjects, particularly Constitutional Law, Civil Law and even Land Law. Familiarity with the institutions of government and how they function is also beneficial, so studying a subject like Government and Politics may be useful.
There is no need to have studied Law at second level to pursue a degree in Law. Law is not a widely taught subject at second level and few students come to the undergraduate Law degree at Cambridge having studied Law previously. Indeed, students who have studied Law at second level may find it difficult to adjust to the different way that Law is taught at third level.
Beyond subject choices, students may wish to see the law in action, by observing a local magistrates’ court, Crown court or county court in session. Even the highest courts, such as the Supreme Court, in Parliament square, the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London are open to the public. Students should try to keeping up to date on current affairs, by watching the news, current affairs programmes or reading newspapers. They may also wish to seek work experience or shadowing opportunities in with legal practitioners.
Why not look at the following podcast?
- Law in Action Podcast on BBC by Joshua Rozenberg: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tgy1/episodes/downloads
- Public Law for Everyone by Professor Mark Elliott: https://publiclawforeveryone.com/
How To Apply
Students should nominate the University of Cambridge as their selected university on the UCAS application form. Thereafter students may choose to make an open application (not specifying an individual College) or indicating a specific College to which they would like to apply. We hope that you will choose to apply to Homerton. Things to consider when picking a College:
- Size of College
- Type and Quality of Accommodation Available
- Type of Community
- Facilities Available
- Academic, extra-curricular, sporting activities available
You should consider attending an open day at your College before making a decision. Many Colleges, including Homerton, also run summer schools at which students can get a taste for a particular subject.
Interviews and Selection Process
Applicants called for interview at the College (approximately 80% of applicants) undergo a two-part assessment. First, students are required to complete the Cambridge Law Test, set by the Law Faculty, and second, interview(s) conducted by the College. It is important to stress that the interview and Cambridge Law Test are just one part of the selection procedure. Those selecting students for admission to the College look at the following factors:
- Examination record to date
- Predicted performance in exams to come
- School reference
- Personal statement
- The interview
- Cambridge Law Test result
The Cambridge Law Test lasts 1 hour and does not require any prior knowledge of the Law, it seeks to evaluate your capacity for critical thinking and writing skills. More can be found abou this in the Faculty of Law webpages.
The purpose of the interview is to learn more about your academic interests, how you think and handle questions. Interview arrangements can vary, but you can expect to be asked questions about your personal statement. Approximately 20% of applicants to the College are offered places.
If you are offered a place then the standard Cambridge offer for Law is A*AA at A level, 40-42pts at IB wih 7,7,6 in HL subjects and the equivalent in other qulification systems. We reserve the right to offer a place conditional on a higher level of achievement in these qualifications given the serious competition for places in this subject.