The undergraduate law course at Cambridge is intended to give a thorough grounding in the principles of law viewed from an academic rather than a vocational perspective. The emphasis is on principle and technique, reasoning and explanation. There are opportunities to study the history of law, and to consider the subject in its wider social context.
In studying Law as an academic discipline, students are required to think critically, to identify the policies which underpin particular rules and to suggest alternatives. They are expected to develop an understanding of the economic, political, social and international context in which the Law applies, and an appreciation of its ethical and philosophical consequences. This often requires students to engage with other academic disciplines.
Wolfson College has around 15-20 undergraduates studying Law at any one time as well as around 20 LLM students, although this number varies from year to year. Our diverse student body is drawn from across the nation and around the world.
BA Law (three year course)
The B.A. in Law consists of three years, known as Parts IA, IB, and Part II of the Law Tripos. All law students at the University of Cambridge are required to take four mandatory subjects in the first year (Civil, Tort, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law). In the second and third years there is an extensive range of options. During their degree students cover the seven ‘foundation’ subjects which are required in order to graduate with a qualifying law degree (Tort, Criminal, Constitutional, Contract, Land, Equity and European Union law). Find out more about the course on the Faculty webpage here.
Affiliated students (two year course)
Graduate students (from any discipline) may apply to Wolfson for admission to a two year law degree as an affiliated student. Affiliated students take Parts IB and Part II of the Law Tripos (effectively the second and third years of the law degree). It is possible to complete all seven foundation subjects in two years as an affiliated student and graduate with a qualifying law degree. Find out more about the course on the Faculty webpage here.
Many A level (or equivalent) subjects provide a good grounding for the study of Law at university and Colleges have an open mind about the subjects that are a sound preparation.
Good applicants tend to have taken subjects at A level (or equivalent) that develop a careful, analytical approach to reading and which require them to present information in a way which is well structured and thoughtfully argued. In our experience, applicants with backgrounds in Mathematics and science subjects perform as well as those whose background is in humanities subjects. Many Colleges are pleased to see applicants with a mixed background in these subjects.
Applicants are not required to have studied Law at GCSE or A level. Those who have done so tend not to have any special advantage once they begin studying Law at university. Academic subjects other than Law will generally provide a solid foundation for the course, as well as give a desirable breadth of experience.
See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.
Candidates who are invited to interview will be asked to submit two pieces of written work, which they have written as part of their normal preparation for public examinations. The preferred word limit for each sample is 2,000 words. Applicants will be given 15-20 minutes to read an unseen passage before the subject interview. Applicants will also be required to sit the Cambridge Law Test when they come for interview, details of which can be found on the Faculty's website.
Director of Studies: Astron Douglas
Helen Waller, second year Law student
I came to Wolfson in October 2009 to study a Law undergraduate degree after having had one false–start with an Engineering degree and then spending some time working as a Paralegal.
I thoroughly enjoy the Law course here at Cambridge. My time is split between lectures, supervisions and, of course, the library. One of the most striking things about studying Law in Cambridge is that you are taught by the people who genuinely ‘wrote the book’. Many of the lecturers are at the very top of their fields, renowned the world over, and it is a real privilege and a pleasure to be able to listen to them – some of them are really quite entertaining and their love of their subject is often infectious. Supervisions are demanding, with weighty reading lists to get through in advance (hence the library time), but the benefits of this system are invaluable. The supervisors challenge you and push you to your limits; they really do want to get the best out of you and are very practised at doing so.
When it comes to tackling the reading lists, the Wolfson library is very well equipped and normally has several copies of all the key books that you need. If you’re after some of the more obscure texts, the Squire Law Library is excellent, as is the University Library. The Law Faculty also has a great range of online resources, which is perfect when you’re on the move.
The course at Cambridge has been everything that I expected and more. The level of dedication from lecturers and supervisors alike is astounding. Whilst it is daunting at first to be plunged into a faculty that just seems to ooze intellect from every corner, ultimately it becomes a hugely enjoyable environment to work in.
Xuling Ho, Affiliated Law student
This is my second year studying Law here at Wolfson. Before beginning my legal studies, I had thought that the law was inflexible and black lettered. Thankfully, the law has proven to be infinitely more interesting; it is constantly in a state of flux. This has ensured a
fascinating and challenging course. There is never a dull moment studying Law. One of the great privileges of studying at Cambridge is being taught in Supervisions. These consist of small groups of between two to five people. The small group formula has enabled me to engage more deeply with the law. The opportunity to discuss the law with scholars at the top of their game has ensured a comprehensive understanding of the current law as well as its future direction. I have been assisted in this task by the excellent facilities available in the Squire Law Library as well as our well stocked college library.