Oxford University and Cambridge University – two titans of Law and Legal Studies. But which University is better?
Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for having unrivalled law faculties with world-leading law experts as teaching staff. Both Universities take second and third place in the Law and Legal Studies World University Rankings. This causes a conundrum for Law applicants each year.
Which Oxbridge University should I choose?
To support your decision making, we put together a comprehensive guide that takes you through the different aspects of the two Universities and their Law degrees. Read on to compare course content, teaching and assessment styles and employability.
Oxford vs Cambridge Law Course Content
Degree: Law (Jurisprudence), BA equivalent to LLB
Duration: 3 or 4 years including year abroad
Oxford has two Law degree options, Course I and Course II. Course I is a 3-year degree, whereas Course II is a 4-year degree following the same content except it consists of a 3rd-year study abroad option at the following European Countries:
- France, Germany, Italy or Spain (studying French, German, Italian, or Spanish law).
- Or the Netherlands (studying European and International law).
- 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.
First-year (term 1 and 2) University examinations: three written papers, one each in Criminal law, Constitutional law and a Roman introduction to private law.
- Tort law
- Contract law
- Land law
- Administrative law
- European Union law
- Two optional subjects, chosen from a very wide range of options.
Course II: Year 3 is spent abroad
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.
Degree: Law BA (Hons)
Duration: 3 years
In Year 1, all students take the same papers:
- Civil Law I
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Law of Tort
Legal Skills and Methodology – a half paper providing training in legal methodology and research.
In your second year, you choose five papers from a wide range of options. Most students take Law of Contract and Land Law. Other options are:
- Administrative Law
- Civil Law II
- Comparative Law
- Criminal Procedure and Criminal Evidence
- Criminology, Sentencing and the Penal System
- Family Law
- Human Rights Law
- International Law
- Legal History
Students have the choice of five papers. Most students take Equity and European Union Law but the other options include:
- Commercial Law
- Company Law
- Competition Law
- Conflict of Laws
- Intellectual Property Law
- Labour Law
Students can also take two half papers as one of their five options. These include:
- Banking Law
- Civil Procedure
- Historical Foundations of the British Constitution
- Landlord and Tenant Law
- Law of Succession
- Personal Information Law
- Topics in European Legal History
- Topics in Legal and Political Philosophy
There is also the option to participate in a seminar course, in the place of one paper, which is assessed by a 12,000-word dissertation. Seminar courses vary each year but in the past have included Crime and Criminal Justice, Ethics and the Criminal Law, Family in Society etc.
The difference between Universities is reflected in the Law degree content at Oxford and Cambridge. Identifying the particular modules that you can specialise in will give you a good gauge of which university is right for you.
For instance, some students choose Cambridge over Oxford for Law as the degree is Jurisprudence whereas this is offered in second and third year at Cambridge. Other students prefer to have a degree in Jurisprudence as they are particularly interested in the philosophy of Law. Making considerations solely on the course content should also be accompanied by looking at the teaching and assessment styles.
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Teaching and Assessments
Students often apply to Cambridge over Oxford because of the examination style. Cambridge Law students will sit their exams at the end of each academic year and they are only assessed on subjects taken during that academic year. Oxford students sit their exams in the middle of first year and are assessed on subjects that span the whole degree at the end of the three or four years.
The Oxford Law examination style suits a lot of people and you will know if you are one of them by how you found your school or college exams. However, some students find this too stressful and would rather spread their exams out across the degree.
Oxford Teaching and Assessments
Studying Law at Oxford equals a lot of work. Students study two subjects at any time and three in third year. This means two tutorials a week with an essay expected to be written for each tutorial. Tutorials are small group teaching with 2-4 students and a tutor. This more intimate style of teaching pushes students to think critically and challenge and learn from other students to explore Law in more depth than solely through lectures.
Oxford Law lectures are considered an optional extra with the tutorial system as the core form of learning. Students will have a few hours each week of lectures but most of the study time will be devoted to reading, thinking and writing essays in preparation for weekly tutorials. 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.
Cambridge Teaching and Assessments
For each paper you study during the Cambridge Law degree, you attend lectures led by members of the faculty of Law. Like Oxford, these lecturers are experts in the field and are often world-leading researchers or have had successful careers in the legal profession. Students typically have 32-40 hours of lectures for each paper. Cambridge use supervisions which are the equivalent to tutorials at Oxford. These are attended fortnightly.
At the end of each academic year, students take a written examination for each paper they study (except Legal Skills and Methodology, which is a half paper that is assessed by an extended essay in third year). There is also the option for students to take a seminar course, which is assessed through a 12,000-word dissertation.
Oxbridge Law Entry Requirements
Oxford and Cambridge Law Admissions Statistics
- 39% interviewed
- 205 students accepted
- 13% successful
- 75% interviewed
- 262 students accepted
- 16% successful
With only 13% and 16% of applicants achieving a place to study Law at Oxford and Cambridge, it is clear how competitive both the universities are to get into. The minimal difference means that applying to one based on the success rate isn’t suggested. However, Cambridge tends to interview around 75% of applicants which can be a huge benefit to your chances if you interview well and are worried about the Cambridge Admissions Tests.
Oxbridge Law Academic Requirements
|IB:||38 (including core points) with 666 at Higher Level||40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level|
|Advanced Highers:||AAB or AA with an additional Higher at grade A||Offers usually require AAA at Advanced Higher Grade|
Academic Subject Requirements:
Oxford suggests that for Law Course I, students must study an essay subject at school or college and for Course II, students are required to study a relevant modern languages subject. Cambridge does not require specific subjects, but it would be advised to choose subjects that align with the degree, such as essay-based subjects.
Oxbridge Law Admissions Tests
Oxford requires applicants for Law to take the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT). Students must take the LNAT before the 15th of October and the registration deadline is on the 15th of September.
The LNAT is a 2 hour and 15-minute written exam for Law students. It is a computer-based exam taken at a Pearson centre, which is where you will have taken your driving theory in the UK. The LNAT has two main sections, Section A (multiple choice questions) and Section B (1 essay question).
Cambridge having used their own Admissions Test the CLT for the past few years has reverted to using the LNAT.
What about written work or submitted work for Oxbridge Law?
Oxford does not ask for any written work submissions for Law, but you must apply with a Personal Statement. Applicants to some Cambridge Colleges are required to submit a school/college essay as an example of written work before the interview.
What are Oxbridge Law admissions tutors looking for?
Oxford admissions tutors expect their students to be high academic achievers with good reasoning ability and communication skills on paper and verbally. Law students must have a capacity for hard work and a passion for the Law.
Cambridge admissions tutors look for an indication of a student’s willingness to argue logically whilst remaining open-minded to new ideas. Students need to be self-disciplined and highly motivated with the desire and potential to go beyond what they have learnt.
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Oxbridge Law Tuition Fees and Financial Support
Oxford and Cambridge Law Tuition Fees:
|Oxford Law||Annual Course Fees|
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|Overseas (including EU)||£28,370|
|Cambridge Law||Annual Course Fees|
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|Overseas (including EU)||£22,227|
Oxbridge Financial Support:
Tuition fee loans are offered to all UK students by the Government. These loans cover course fees in full and fees do not have to be paid upfront. Bursaries are available for a wide range of annual household incomes up to £42,875. Amounts can be found here, along with a range of scholarships for overseas students.
Tuition fee loans are offered to all UK students by the Government. These loans cover the course fees in full and fees do not have to be paid upfront. Cambridge offers a wide range of bursaries, including the recent Stormzy Scholarship for black students to contribute towards their living costs. If your household income is £25,000 per year or less, you’re eligible for the maximum bursary, currently £3,500 per year. For more information, read through the financial support page here.
Oxbridge Living Costs:
Living costs consist of whatever you need to pay for, including accommodation, food, course costs/study materials, personal expenses and transport, but does not include tuition fees.
The University suggest that monthly living costs will vary between £1,175 to £1,710 to live in Oxford. This might sound very expensive, however, the academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so students do not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year.
Jesus College, Cambridge suggest that annual living costs are around £9,420 for a home student and £11,350 for overseas students. However, these are only an estimate and may be far higher or lower depending on the student. Similar to Oxford, terms are much shorter than other UK universities and students only pay accommodation fees during term time.
Extra-Curricular Law Activities
Oxford University Law Society (LawSoc):
Oxford LawSoc is a student society that provides members with the opportunity to develop their understanding of the legal industry. It is one of the largest societies at Oxford and very popular as students gain insights into the legal profession. Each year, the society holds social events for students to engage with legal professionals in an informal environment with termly balls too.
The Verdict is a termly magazine published by LawSoc which has had past contributors including Cherie Blair and Baron Goldsmith. Membership fees are £45 for the duration of your degree.
Cambridge University Law Society (CULS):
Similar to Oxford’s LawSoc, CULS is a student-run society with an elected committee chosen on an annual basis by the members. CULS holds multiple events each year attended by lawyers and legal professionals such as Lord Judge and Baroness Hale who were guest speakers.
The society publishes a termly magazine and holds numerous competitions for mooting (a mock trial where two sides argue a point of law in front of an acting judge). CULS enter teams into national and international mooting competitions, with a team reaching the final of the Space Law Moot in Hong Kong. Lifetime membership costs £40 and this allows Cambridge Alumni to join certain events each year.
Oxbridge Law Employability
One of the life-long perks of attending Oxbridge is your CV reaches the top of the pile for most internships or jobs you apply for. While this may sound like an exaggeration, an Oxbridge education allows you to become incredibly knowledgeable of the law and you also have a suite of transferable skills that employers are looking for. Oxbridge students have to be organised, determined, driven, analytical, meticulous, and articulate to thrive at university. This opens doors for your future career and studies.
Research by Chambers Student found that law firms have a preference for Oxbridge graduates and this has been the case for years. You can see their findings below.
Oxford University Law Employability:
Around 75% of Oxford Law graduates pursue a legal profession. Even though graduates leave with a BA instead of an LLB, each of the Oxford courses counts as qualifying with a Law degree which means that graduates can go straight into the Bar Professional Training Course (for Barristers).
The Oxford Law degree focuses on English Law but the fundamental principles taught allows graduates to go on to have successful careers practising law outside of England and Wales too.
Cambridge University Law Employability:
The BA in Law at Cambridge is currently considered a ‘qualifying law degree’ in England and Wales by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board. Many graduates start their careers by qualifying as Barristers and Solicitors or work within the legal departments of banks, the Civil Service, local government and international organisations. Some graduates decide to remain in academia or use their relevant skills to have successful careers in administration, politics, finance and the media.
Deciding between Oxford and Cambridge is a difficult one. Especially as it is hard to fault each University on its academic prowess. Both have exceptional tutors and faculties that will allow you to leave with superior knowledge of the law. Graduating from Oxford or Cambridge will also boost your employability and open many doors for your future careers and studies.
Ensure you book onto an open day for both universities where you will have the opportunity to visit the cities and ask lots of questions to tutors and current students. From everything we have covered in this article, we have put together some final considerations for choosing between Law at Oxford or Cambridge:
This guide has given you an in-depth look at the differences between Oxford and Cambridge’s Economics courses, but there is more to consider than just that. You will be spending multiple years living at your chosen university, so you’ve got to make sure you pick the option that seems most appealing to you. If you want to learn more about the Oxbridge campuses, teaching styles, extra-curricular activities and more, then check out our definitive guide to Oxford Vs Cambridge.
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