What Studying Law At Cambridge Is Really Like

There were many questions regarding the Cambridge Law degree that I wanted to be answered before I started. How many lecturers do you have? Is the workload at Cambridge unbearable? To answer these questions, we have an explanation provided by a third-year Cambridge Law student who covers the key areas that you need to know.

Author: Tilly Newman

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There were many questions regarding the Cambridge Law degree that I wanted to be answered before I started.

How many lecturers do you have? Is the workload at Cambridge unbearable? To answer these questions, we have an explanation provided by a third-year Cambridge Law student who covers the key areas that you need to know.

Choosing your Cambridge Law modules

In your first year, there isn’t any choice of subjects. Instead, you study four compulsory subjects which are Constitutional, Tort, Criminal and Roman Law. In second year of Cambridge Law, there are two compulsory subjects (Contract and Land) and you get to choose three additional subjects.

In third year, again there are two compulsory subjects (EU and Equity), and you can choose three additional subjects which include the option of a dissertation.

This means that in first year you study only four subjects but in second and third year you study five. The range of optional subjects can differ from year to year due to various reasons, such as staff availability, so it can’t be guaranteed that you’ll be able to do all of the subjects Cambridge currently lists on the website. Examples of optional subjects include areas around Family Law and Intellectual Property.

trinity-college-anti-chapel-cambridge
Anti-chapel at Trinity College, Cambridge

What are the Cambridge Law lectures like?

During term, there are two lectures per subject every week which are roughly 50 minutes long each and there is an additional lecture each week for core subjects in the first term. Lectures are a key part of life as a Law student at Cambridge and the lecture handouts form the backbone to academic work as a student. Lecturers are given by a range of academics, so you get a variety of different opinions and teaching styles.

In a live lecture, I would strongly recommend typing lecture notes since it is near-impossible to keep up by hand. I also recommend typing your inputs in another colour so that you can differentiate between the handout’s points and your own since you may unknowingly make mistakes but the handout is always right.

What are the Cambridge Law Supervisions like?

Over the course of the eight-week term, you will have four 1-hour supervisions for each subject with a revision supervision in Easter Term. These supervisions are intense small group sessions but provided you are well prepared and have done all of the reading, they really aren’t that scary. Supervisions are a crucial tool to enable you to ask any questions and really get to grips with the content of the course. Critical thinking is super important.

How to get the most out of Cambridge Supervisions:

To get the most out of a supervision, you need to be well prepared; don’t just turn up and say “I couldn’t do question 3”. You need to show your working clearly to explain your thinking and you need to tell the supervisor exactly what you got stuck on. Make notes based on what the supervisor tells you and write them up as soon as you get home so that you have the perfect answer to an exam style question.

How Hard is law at Cambridge?

I will admit that there is a significant amount of work and it can seem overwhelming at first, but efficiency is key and it really does get easier once you adjust and become aware of how you work best. There is certainly time to participate in extracurricular activities, you just may need to choose a couple of things that you really want to do rather than spread yourself too thin.

The dreaded Cambridge Law essays:

You will also be required to submit two essays a term for each subject to be marked by your various supervisors. These essays don’t count towards your final grade, which is based purely on exams at the end of each year, but they are still important as your supervisor will write a report and give you a predicted grade at the end of each term. Also, these essays are a direct way of improving your understanding, exploring the subject and giving you feedback which can be very helpful for the exams.

This should give you a good insight into what studying Law at Cambridge is really like, but remember, everyone has a different experience! It can be completely dependant on the college you go to, the friends you make and how you manage your time. I just recommend you make the most of it!

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