Policemen uniforms, white barrister’s wigs and courtroom dramas are the typical face of law in popular culture. Law goes far beyond this portrayal governing every single aspect of your life. From when you’re born (your parents must register your birth, care for you and send you to school), through your adult life whether that’s work, leisure or family. You’ll study a broad range of subjects, from how politics dictates how the law is created, to how slaves in the Roman Empire were protected. You’ll have to complete written work but the best part is engaging in a great deal of debate and discussion. You’ll be taught in your college by professors/academics, some of whom will teach you all three years as well as centrally in the faculty through lectures where you’ll meet some of the other 200 people in your year.
What about the Law course at Cambridge appealed to you?
Oxford and Cambridge might seem similar, but there were two differences making Cambridge my choice. Firstly, jurisprudence was compulsory at Oxford, whereas I prefer that it is optional here as I don’t know if I want to study it. Secondly, you don’t need to take LNAT beforehand – you sit a separate law test whilst here for your interview. Another thing that makes Cambridge law different to most universities is our “supervisions”, which give you the chance to have a really in-depth discussion about a specific area of law. I have supervisions with professors who write my textbooks! Since you only take law subjects, you get the chance to develop your knowledge and skills within a broad range of legal topics.
How have you found the structure of the course?
One of my favourite things about the Law course is that it gives me the opportunity to learn about so many different areas of law, and I get to decide how I want large parts of it to be structured. Across the standard 3 year course, we study around 14 different subjects, almost half of which are optional meaning that I’ve had the chance to discover exactly what it is I enjoy. If, for example, after studying it in first year you really enjoy Criminal law, you can pick extra Criminal based ‘papers’ in your second and third years. It really is the only course where one day you’ll be learning how cows were sold under Roman law, and the next discussing the legality of the Iraq war in International law!
What is your faculty/department like?
The Law Faculty is in an ultra-modern glass building – it feels open and airy, which is pleasant if you have to spend a whole day in there. There are three lecture theatres, and other smaller rooms and offices. Also, there is a café to keep everyone fed and caffeinated throughout the day. On the three lower floors, chairs and tables are scattered throughout – ideal for chatting or working. The Squire Law Library is spread out over the upper three floors of the faculty. With many desks, chairs and computers, it is an ideal place to study, free from distractions. If there are books you need that are not in your college library (or online), they will be there for reference.
What types of work do you have to do?
Cambridge law is mainly taught in supervisions. You’ll be in groups of no more than four and will sit with a professor for an hour to discuss the reading you’ve done that week. Supervisions are all about the debate. The professor is of course making sure that you have read and understood the materials but the supervision is not test. You can ask questions and have opinions even though you don’t know the law that well your opinions are always valid. A great moment for me was when my professor said ‘I’d never thought about it like that before…’ and then said it would make a great article!
All the books and cases you’ll need are online or in the main faculty library, lots of colleges house separate law libraries too so you’ll never be without a textbook.
Do you have career plans?
Having just passed the halfway point in my degree the real world is starting to lurk on the horizon, and I think I’ve finally decided that I want to pursue a career in teaching. Lots of my friends are planning on graduating and becoming lawyers, and have utilised some of the great links the Law faculty has with different law firms, but a Law degree is great because it doesn’t mean you have to graduate and become a lawyer. It provides you with a well recognised degree for graduate applications in a huge range of fields; whilst I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do I also looked at working in the NHS, Retail, and as a lawyer for a TV provider!
What about your course would you change?
We take exams in May every year but none of the work done leading up to these counts towards your final mark. The lack of coursework can be daunting as it means that revision is crucial. However, in the third and final term you won’t have lectures so you do get more time that in the previous two terms to get the revision done. The other drawback of law exams is that they have to be handwritten (unless you have a learning or other disability). Obviously everyone hand-writes exams at A-Level but most people work on laptops for most of the year than then have to hurriedly remember how to write legibly at the end of the year. In the legal world where everything is word processed this can be quite frustrating.
Typical timetable of a 1st year Law student
|10am||Lecture:Tort Law||-||Lecture:Criminal Law||Lecture:Civil Law||Lecture Tort Law|
|12am||Lecture:Constitutional Law||Lecture:Criminal Law||-||-||Supervision:Tort Law/Constitutional Law rotating each week|
|3pm||-||Supervision:Criminal Law/Civil Law rotating each week||-||-||-|
What has been going on at Law?
- Recent Events -
Spring Ball 2016
For the first time, Cambridge University Law Society (CULS) held a ball in the second term of year. With a "masquerade" theme, we were whisked away to London for one amazing night.
CULS Forsyth v Craig Debate
A heated battle involving Professors of Public Law at Cambridge and Oxford respectively – a really interesting way to revise a topic studied by all first years in constitutional law!
Baroness Hale Talk
At a talk organised by Cambridge University Law Society (CULS), Baroness Hale (Supreme Court Deputy President) gave a talk about women in the judiciary. Great to hear the Honorary President of the Law Society talk about such an interesting topic!
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