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Course Report – Law (Jurisprudence) Course I, Oxford This report gives you detailed information on

Course Report Law (Jurisprudence) Course I, Oxford

This report gives you detailed information on the key features of the Law (Jurisprudence) course at Oxford, along with a running commentary from a graduate who studied the course, Tom.

commentary from a graduate who studied the course, Tom. “ X intends to poison his wife

X intends to poison his wife but accidentally gives the lethal draught to her identical twin. Murder?(Past interview question for Law)

Oxbridge Applications | 13-14 New Bond Street | London W1S 3SX Tel: 0207 4992 394 | Fax: 0207 4910 343 |

Duration Three years Degree awarded BA in Jurisprudence Course Outline Colleges Balliol, Brasenose, Christ Church,

Duration Three years Degree awarded BA in Jurisprudence

Course Outline

Colleges Balliol, Brasenose, Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Harris Manchester, Hertford, Jesus, Keble, Lady Margaret Hall, Lincoln, Magdalen, Mansfield, Merton, New, Oriel, Pembroke, Queen’s, Regent’s Park (but not Law with Law Studies in Europe), St Anne’s, St Catherine’s, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda’s, St Hugh’s, St John’s, St Peter’s, Somerville, Trinity, University, Wadham and Worcester

Course Overview Jurisprudence is the branch of philosophy concerned with the Law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do. Law at Oxford is both an immersion in this more theoretical area of study and a firm foundation for further legal training. The Oxford Law course counts as a qualifying Law degree for the Legal Practise Course (for solicitors) or the Bar Professional Training Course (for barristers), although there is no assumption that graduates from the course will go on to pursue a legal career.

Law at Oxford is a demanding but rewarding subject, both intellectually and in terms of enhanced career prospects.

2012 Intake Combined intake (including Law with European Studies): 216

Applications shortlisted for interview:

Course I 48.5%, Course II 42.9%, Successful applications:

Course I 17.8%, Course II 10.6 %, (Applicants unsuccessful in gaining a place on Course II are automatically considered for a place on Course I)

Entrance requirements A levels AAA Advanced Highers AAB, or AA plus an additional Higher at grade A IB 39 including core points (with at least 766 at Higher Level)

Essential subjects Minimum C in GCSE Mathematics, but no specific A level subjects are required. General Studies is not accepted. Law A Level confers neither an advantage nor disadvantage.

Admissions test All candidates must sit the Law National Admissions Test (LNAT) between 1 September and 20 October 2013. You need to register for the LNAT before the 5 th October 2013. Applicants for Course II maybe be given and oral language test in the relevant European language at the time of interview.

Written work There is no requirement to submit written work.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

Our Case Study – Tom Tom applied to Oxford in 2007. He began the Law

Our Case Study Tom

Tom applied to Oxford in 2007. He began the Law course in 2008 and graduated in 2011. Here he describes his academic background and how he found studying the course.

Did you apply pre or post A level? Pre A level: I had no desire to take a gap year before University and felt that applying pre A levels was therefore the best option.

What were your GCSE results at the time of your application? 8 A*s, 1 A

What were your subjects and grades at the time of your application? English (A), Maths (A), Chemistry (A)

Was your offer conditional or unconditional? Conditional; AAA

How did you find studying Law at Oxford?

I felt that the length of the course was perfect. Three years gave me enough time to get an in depth study

of law, studying both the compulsory subjects and the optional choices in my third year. I did not feel the course was too long but felt that I had worked had enough after three years that another year was not overly desired. I knew more than the basics and could confidently discuss the core issues in depth.

I have absolutely no complaints with the amount of contact time. Roughly four to five hours of 2 to 1

contact time every two weeks was brilliant and led to interesting discussions. It made me work harder knowing that much was expected of me in these sessions. I feel that I was given the right balance of being challenged and supported so that I learnt independently.

In every teaching organisation there will be variations in teaching quality. Some tutors were naturally better than others but the overall standard of the teaching was extremely high- these tutors were at the very top of their subject and as a result were passionate and engaging when talking about their specialist area. You are being taught or lectured by world experts, often the people who wrote the leading textbook, and often in a more or less one-to-one environment.

The course of jurisprudence at Oxford is a traditional one and I got the impression that it had not changed drastically over a number of years. As a result it was very organised and well structured. The reading list and essays that were set had clearly been thought long and hard about and the advantage of a centralised system was that there was a consistent approach across all the colleges towards the course itself.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

An Overview of the Course Year One Tom says: “ The aim of the first

An Overview of the Course

Year One

Tom says: The aim of the first year of University was to study the three compulsory subjects which were then examined in March of the first year for the Law Moderations and then to spend the summer term introducing us to two of the subjects that we would be looking at for finals. You are forced very quickly to learn the basic nuts and bolts of what Law is, various legal techniques and generally to begin thinking as an academic Lawyer.

In the first two terms the Moderations course is taken. This consists of the following modules:

Criminal Law This course emphasises the close reading of cases and statutes and encourages fine-grained analysis, often using problem questions as a medium. It conveys the idea of the common Law and its complex interplay with statute Law.

Constitutional Law This course mixes intriguing conceptual questions and historical puzzles with important points of contemporary Law, including some relating to the interplay of the UK Constitution and the Constitution of the EU, and some relating to the Human Rights Act. It encourages abstract reflection about Law and its nature as well as introducing Law’s political context and historical momentum.

A Roman Introduction to Private Law This subject is an introduction to legal concepts and legal thought, which for centuries have been directly influenced by Roman Law. The course shows students where many of the ideas which we take for granted have come from. The course is based on primary materials contact with such materials is one of the great merits of the study of Law. This gives students the opportunity to form their own judgements, freed from second-hand opinion.

Research skills programme This course consists of a number of exercises and workshops aiming to equip students with the practical skills needed to conduct successful legal research using a range of resources, including libraries as well as computers.

Tom says: Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Roman Law, Tort Law and Contract Law were all compulsory. I was not given any choices in relation to these options- the five subjects that were studied were all obligatory. There is an argument for suggesting that a subject more pertinent than Roman Law could have been studied but I would not agree with this conclusion. The subjects that I studied were

interesting, varied and designed to aid us when studying later subjects so I would not pick differently had

I the choice again.

I spent around 5 hours in lectures, 3-4 in tutorials and 25 in private study every week. 3 essays were set every two weeks.

I sat Law Moderations in March of my first year. This was Mods and involved three, three hour exams which were made of four questions. There was a mixture of questions including essays and problem

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

questions. Our Moderation exams focused on two things: content (i.e. what you had learnt) and

questions. Our Moderation exams focused on two things: content (i.e. what you had learnt) and technique (how lucidly you conveyed your argument). You needed both at a high level to score well.

Second Year

Tom says: The aim of the second year was to continue to study the subjects which would be tested in the finals exams at the end of the third year. There were no exams in the second year but there were collections at the beginning of each term that tested students on what had been studied previously. The aim was to continue developing our legal technique alongside increasing our specific legal knowledge. The lack of exams (until the end of the third year) was designed to allow us to get more ‘in-depth’ with the subject and to allow wide reading and in-depth thought.

There are seven compulsory Final Honour Schools modules:

Tort Law; Contract Law; Trusts; Land Law These four modules cover subjects representing the core areas of English private Law. A serious legal education must provide a solid appreciation of them all and of the relationships among them. The teaching typically emphasises the reading of cases and statutes unabridged, highlights conceptual difficulties as well as technical points of Law, and makes use of problem questions as well as essay questions.

Administrative Law This course picks up and develops themes already encountered in the first year constitutional Law course. It affords an opportunity to reflect further on the relations between Law and politics, and to develop a critical appreciation of the rule of Law and the separation of powers as encountered daily in the courts and in the work of tribunals, regulators, agencies and official inquiries. Again the study of cases and statutes unabridged lies at the centre of the course.

Jurisprudence This course thoroughly acquaints students with certain key philosophical debates about Law, and provides a basic education in philosophical technique more generally.

European Union Law In this course students are immersed in the constitutional and substantive Case Law of the EC courts, which differs in style and mode of argument from the English legal materials emphasised elsewhere in the programme.

Two optional subjects are also chosen. Previous courses offered have included Comparative Law:

Contract (French), Criminology and Penology, Public International Law, History of English Law, Ethics, Family Law, Company Law, Labour Law, Principles of Commercial Law, Intellectual Property Law and Tax Law.

Tom says: Contract Law, Administrative Law, Land Law, Trusts and Jurisprudence were all compulsory. I was not given any options as to the subjects. Again, I felt that the options I studied were interesting and varied and, whilst there was little choice in what I was able to study, I would not have chosen anything

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

different had I had the choice. The course is naturally limited by the fact that

different had I had the choice. The course is naturally limited by the fact that there are seven compulsory subjects that have to be studied.

I spent 6 hours in lectures, 4 in tutorials and 25 in private study every week. I completed 3 essays every two weeks. No exams were sat in second year.”

Third Year

Tom says: The aim of the third year was to study a further range of subjects whilst also allowing us to choose two optional subjects to study from a range of different choices. There was also a period of 8 weeks which allowed us to prepare for the final examinations which were sat in May and June of the final year. I think the aim was largely the same as it had always been: to train us to a high standard in legal knowledge, technique and thought processes generally. They put stress on not allowing us to just carbon copy a textbook, but to think and structure our work to really get an advanced understanding. By third year we were meant to have the technique largely sorted so perhaps more emphasis was placed on thinking differently, interesting arguments etc.”

Students continue with the compulsory Final Honour School Modules and their optional subjects.

Tom says: European Law was compulsory, but we were given choices- I chose to study Family Law and Medical Law. I chose to study these options because I found them interesting, relevant and topical. They were both subjects which affected a wide range of people and offered the chance to get stuck in to fascinating debates. In hindsight I probably would have chosen different options. Whilst I found both Family Law and Medical Law interesting I found that they were hindrances on my CV when I came to apply for jobs in Corporate Law. Was I able to choose again I would have found it easier to have studied subjects such as Labour Law or Commercial Leases.

I spent 8 hours per week in lectures, 3 in seminars, 4 in tutorials and 35 in private study. Again, the workload was 3 essays every two weeks.

I sat 9 exams at the end of my third year- these were all 3 hour exams and were all four questions long

(with the exception of jurisprudence which had three questions). They were written exams and were all (again with the exception of jurisprudence which was just essay based) a mixture of problem questions and essays. The examiners wanted to see if we had specific legal knowledge and if we had learnt to apply and use this knowledge in an informed and intelligent way. Both essays and problems required you to show content and technique, but obviously for problems there is more scope to show a full and detailed knowledge of the Law rather than opinion/argument about the Law and how it should be improved etc and vice versa for essays. To score highly with both types of question you needed to have both content and excellent technique and well argued opinion thought through.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

My Experience Tom looks back at his time studying Law: Why did you choose to

My Experience

Tom looks back at his time studying Law:

Why did you choose to apply for Law? Studying Law at Oxford had always been my ambition. I knew that the course would be good, that I would get plenty of contact time and that it would be an incredibly enjoyable experience- all of which turned out to be correct. The collegiate system was also an advantage. It was a personal decision to undertake the course although I was influenced by my dad’s own experiences. He himself studied at Oxford (although he studied Chemistry rather than Law so not exactly the same) so during my childhood I had many opportunities to hear about the advantages of Oxford! Law was both an academic and practical discipline that was a respected degree. When I read more about it I was interested in the questions that were being asked, the reading I was doing and it seemed like a natural fit.

Why was your course a good choice for you?

I believe myself to be an incredibly motivated individual who has always relished a challenge. I am

analytical and, having studied a mixture of arts and sciences at A level felt that law was the perfect choice. Studying Law at Oxford was an intellectual challenge that I felt got the most out of me. It offered the chance to combine practical and academic elements I developed my argument, analytical and academic abilities in a very practical context which I could apply to everyday life and would be useful in the future.

What did you enjoy the most about your course?

I enjoyed all aspects of it. As I have discussed the course itself was interesting and gave me a passion for law that has led me to apply for jobs in the legal industry. The contact time meant that you were working with the best academics in the field allowing you to ask questions and get feedback from them.

What did you enjoy the least about your course? There was nothing that I did not enjoy about the course. It was clearly difficult being expected to work so many hours in one’s own time and at various points during the course the work was very challenging but this own served to enhance the experience in my opinion and the satisfaction at ‘getting’ certain concepts was immense.

Would you like to have studied a different course? As I have explained above, I was incredibly glad that I studied law and incredibly glad that I studied at Oxford. If I could apply again, I would apply to do the same course.

Would you have studied the course at a different institution?

I would not. As mentioned, I enjoyed both the course and the collegiate system that was offered by Oxford and as a result I found it a fantastic experience.

With hindsight, what would you have done differently during your time studying your course? Overall I’m quite happy with my three years, and the final result I achieved. Some weeks I clearly studied quite superficially as when it came to Finals my notes for those topics were appalling! I had to start from scratch, and I would definitely not repeat this if I started again. In the end I was not too far away from a First, and a part of me feels that if I had put this extra effort in all the way through, done some wider reading where a topic particularly interested me, then I might have got onebut you never know!

How would you advise students to get the most out of studying Law? To combine working hard and taking advantage of both the fantastic tutors and excellent facilities but also to enjoy yourself! One advantage of college life is that there is so much on offer. I was able to play

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

both football and cricket whilst there which can lead to a well-rounded three years. You

both football and cricket whilst there which can lead to a well-rounded three years. You can work hard and still have a good time!

Make the most of your tutorials, ask as many questions as you can, and always ask why. Learn to challenge things and think from new perspectives. Don’t be ashamed of using the textbook. Normally they are written by Oxbridge tutors anyway and present the key material you actually need. Finally, don’t fall into the trap that you need to read every case on the list cover-to-cover where it is a major case read the relevant extracts in the judgment that relate to the problem (normally two or three paragraphs) and otherwise stick to understanding the core facts and what the case proved and why (all of which you can get from books). This will save you hours of time. Your tutors will tell you the opposite but as long as you develop the skill of case reading on the major cases you’ll be fine.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

My Preparation Tom answers our questions on how he prepared for his application: Where did

My Preparation

Tom answers our questions on how he prepared for his application:

Where did you go to school? I went to an independent school for my GCSEs and a grammar school for my A levels. Every year around 10 students would apply to Oxbridge, of which up to 5 would be successful.

What help did you receive from your school? Lots. The school was kind of enough to host mock interviewing days which gave the Oxbridge applicants excellent practice of dealing with the kinds of questions to come up.

What help did you receive from your parents? My dad is a teacher and thus was on hand at all times to answer any questions that I had about the application process. He also went to Oxford himself so was an invaluable source of support.

How did you prepare? I was actually able to participate in an Oxbridge Applications day of interviewing which was incredibly useful in honing my interviewing skills. I read widely (books and newspaper articles) and discussed legal issues with anyone I could. I spent as much time thinking about legal perspectives as I could. When preparing for admissions test I did as many as possible and as a result found the questions easier as a result. You can and should study for it. Writing the personal statement was a matter of preparing draft after draft and making it better each time- no magic answer!

What advice would you give to an applicant preparing for a Law interview? You need to prepare a tremendous amount beforehand. Whatever your subject is, research thoroughly and ensure that if you have put any books or references on your personal statement that you know them back to front. Have in your mind why you want to do the course and why you want to do it at that college- the tutors are not looking for a magic answer, just passion for the course and an inquisitive mind.

Read, read, read and then think and discuss! Do the basics and then go further and think obscure, for example if you are a keen sailor think about the legal issues involved at sea, this shows a real personal interest beyond the classic ‘I like Law because it’s relevant/can protect people’ etc. You need to stand out and prove your interest is much more genuine than other people’s and you’re not just coming to Oxford cash in as it’s the easy route to be a big-time lawyer.

Also discuss legal issues in the news (there are always plenty) as much as possible and practise arguing from the side you disagree with. Seeing two sides to an argument and debating from both is crucial. It will also help you evaluate and deal with weaknesses in your own argument.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

My Interview Tom answers questions about his interviews. The details he gives are specific to

My Interview

Tom answers questions about his interviews. The details he gives are specific to his experience but should give you a general idea of what might happen at your interview. Remember, no two interviews are ever the same.

How many interviews did you have? Two, both with two interviewers. The first interview involved me being given a case and the second was a set of factual circumstances relating to the culpability of an individual.

What format did the interviews take?

I was given a case to read before the first interview. It was a criminal law case and related to a theoretical discussion of assault. I discussed my answer to the questions, and responded to questions and challenges from the interviewers. Many of the questions related to either the case or the factual set of circumstances I was given.

Questions on my personal statement were asked- particularly in relation to sports that I play in my spare time and travel (to Malawi) that I was able to carry out prior to my interview

How did you go about answering the questions asked?

I gave myself time to think through each question- answered each logically and tried to avoid simply making brash statements- instead keeping my responses focused and to the point.

What was your overall experience of the interviews?

I had no way of knowing exactly what to expect, but I read widely and thought about why I liked the

subject and tried to anticipate the obvious questions. I enjoyed both of the interviews. They were incredibly challenging but dealt with interesting and provocative material that I felt ultimately got the best out of me. The interviewers managed to do this whilst still ensuring that I was relaxed throughout by opening with several easy questions before building up the difficulty level.

What do you think interviewers are looking for in a prospective student? For law, the tutors are not interested in seeing vast swathes of legal knowledge at such an early stage. What they want to see is a passion for the subject combined with a logical approach to questions that they pose. It’s essential in Law to be able to see the differences between two similar situations and work out how to apply a legal rule or solution accordingly. Develop the skill of quickly evaluating an argument, seeing the weaknesses and strengths and forming your point of view. Always think about the different perspectives and analyse them. Do not think you can just say your view point and then stop go further. Go much further, and in real detail. They want to see you back your opinions up and be genuinely excited at the prospect of studying law. The course is difficult and involves many hours of study- without this spark of interest it can be much more difficult to enjoy the course itself. They’re looking for genuine interest, more than just saying ‘I am interested in Law because it’s relevant to society’. Obviously this applies to all subjects, but being specific is essential in Law as you need to get into the habit of backing up your statements. If you say something is good, bad, acceptable or boring then back this up with specific proof or thoughts.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

How to Prepare Here is a selection of some interviews from applicants who applied for

How to Prepare

Here is a selection of some interviews from applicants who applied for Law (Jurisprudence) in 2010 for entry in 2011, 2011 for 2012, and 2012 for 2013:

All the questions in my interview were based around a case study (one on freedom of expression and another on the tort of conversion). I think the most important thing I took from it was that the interviewers seemed to be looking for very technical specific discussion on the reasoning behind a law. It was like zooming in on a particular aspect of it and then ignoring everything else.

The interviews were really only a discussion of the case studies I had been asked to prepare 20 minutes before each interview. There were scenarios at the bottom of each and the interviewers would ask my opinion on each and from there would stem a debate on my answers and their opinions.

Almost all of the interviews were about the unseen material I had been given. I was asked at the start of the interview about why I wanted to study Law, but that was the only general question. Everything else was specific to the material.

The only questions in the interview revolved around my reasoning for studying the subject. Apart from that, every question was about the law statute that I was given.

was given a legal definition and asked to apply it to different situations; I was also asked about my preparatory study piece, as well as how my subjects related to my course. We discussed the Stephen Lawrence case and Law in other jurisdictions, in relation to things like women’s rights and the death penalty.

The interview began with my interviewer asking me why I wanted to study Law. They then asked lots of questions relating to what I had written on my personal statement, such as my amnesty

international group at school and the work experience I had undertaken. I said I was interested in human rights on my personal statement and I got questioned on this, leading to a discussion about why human rights have developed, strangely involving Guy Fawkes, which was an example


I used which led into an in depth discussion.

In my interview I was asked whether I thought I owned by body, and if, for example, I wanted a scar on my leg, should I be allowed to cut myself open to get one? I was then asked to imagine I have body dysmorphia and I want to cut off my leg, should I then be allowed to do so? This led on to one of my interviewers saying that the other interviewer liked to collect kidneys, should I be allowed to sell her one of my own kidneys to make a profit if I wanted to. The interview then ended with the questions of if I wanted to sell my body, for example into slavery, should I be allowed to do that?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

How to Approach Questions at Interview Here is an example of how you could deal

How to Approach Questions at Interview

Here is an example of how you could deal with such a question.

What is justice?

Whilst justice is a broader concept than that used in the criminal law it is still difficult to define in a criminal law context. A right-wing conception of justice seems to be the predominant view within the criminal justice system. Firstly, custodial sentences are used for their deterrent effect as a political lack of appetite for progressive prison reform has resulted in today’s prisons maintaining Victorian ideas of retribution over rehabilitation. Secondly, when deciding the form and duration of sentences the judiciary is too focused upon the fault element of the crime rather than looking at how the punishment will best serve the offender, the victim and society as a whole. For example, an assassin who is paid to kill a schoolteacher for money and a husband who kills his terminally ill wife out of mercy both receive mandatory life sentences for murder. This judicial inflexibility in sentencing reflects a right wing Judaeo-Christian conception of justice based upon the maxim of ‘an eye for an eye’. In this case a life for life. However, surely this conception of justice is offensive to natural law and a fairer conception would be to take a utilitarian approach to punishment - what produces the most beneficial outcome for the greatest number of people rather than to have such rigid sentencing guidelines. Uniacke and other supporters of moral forfeiture theory would probably argue that when a person threatens another they lose their rights, and therefore a utilitarian approach that considers the rights of the offender would be unjust. To summarise, even when applied within the limited context of criminal law, attempting to establish a definition of justice is difficult.

However, ‘justice’ has a broader meaning than ‘criminal justice.’ In medieval value systems the focus of justice was not upon vengeance but upon restoring honour and dignity to individuals and in ancient Hebrew civilisations justice was done when relationships were rebuilt. Moreover, today the term ‘social justice’ is used frequently and the meaning of justice in this context is difficult to reconcile with the vengeance focused approach that is pervasive in the criminal law. The ‘Centre for Social Justice’ investigates how to promote ‘social justice’ which it considers to be greater social mobility and fairness in society. Incorporating ideas of ‘social fairness’ inevitably politicises the concept of justice even further - what is socially fair? Is socioeconomic equality the only way that ‘social justice’ can be achieved or is a meritocratic conception of social justice, which is the view held by the right of centre think tank the ‘Centre for Social Justice,’ the better definition? Whichever definition you adopt it is a very different conception of justice from the retribution over rehabilitation approach taken by the criminal justice system, which entrenches social division rather than engender social mobility. Therefore, the wide use of ‘justice’ in non-criminal contexts has made creating a coherent definition even more difficult.

To conclude, Jacques Derrida was probably correct when he said that justice was the only non-deconstructible thing in life. The concept defies a coherent definition as it so broad and subjective. Justice, like beauty is deeply personal, therefore, in the same way that there is objective beauty, there are instances of objectively just and unjust situations. These instances are, however, few and far between and it would be wrong to define an important and wide reaching concept from these examples. A vengeance focused conception of justice, that ‘the punishment should fit the crime,’ is inadequate. Justice also encompasses the restoration of honour and dignity, the reinstatement of relationships and social fairness.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

Suggested Reading All of the below suggestions serve only as examples for the kinds of

Suggested Reading

All of the below suggestions serve only as examples for the kinds of things you should be considering reading. The key factor in determining what you read must be your own interest, as you find reading and absorbing difficult otherwise.

Key Books

Learning the Law Glanville Williams Gives the core basics, looks at interesting problems and is an excellent introduction which is very accessible. If you are bored with this book you shouldn’t be applying for Law as it covers exactly the type of questions you’re going to spend three years on! It helps you with technique and the skills of academic Law too, so essential!

Eve Was Framed Helena Kennedy

Interesting and very unique critique of the legal system, it helps you start thinking of things from

a new perspective and see new sides to arguments. A good book to discuss in interviews.

The Concept of Law H.L.A. Hart Not for the faint-hearted, and no need to read it in full (unless you’re keen/love it) but it is advanced reading that can show excellent understanding and thought. A chance to show off but careful preparation needed and if you are at all unsure better to stick to simpler material always better to talk at length (intelligently) about material you really like then briefly about something you don’t understand.

Letters to a Law Student Nicholas McBride.

A good introductory text. It deals with a wealth of topics from deciding on Law as a university

subject to the application process and then studying Law at university. While it does deal with the LNAT, it contains information about essay style for Law which is useful both for admissions

essays and essays while studying Law.

What about Law Catherine Barnard


very good taste of the scope and content of Law degrees. It is very helpful for discovering what


involved and is written to emphasise how interesting studying Law is. A good introduction to

legal reasoning and the legal system including case examples - making it very relevant.

Children’s Welfare and the Law The Limits of legal intervention - Michael King and Judith Trowell. Not necessarily a suggestion for all but the type of book to look out for. Find a topic that you are interested in already and relate it to Law. By doing this you can more easily remember and discuss the information in the book and your interest will show through more clearly.

Just Law Helena Kennedy Good for those interested in the Human Rights aspects of Law. It deals with civil liberties and the erosion thereof in recent times. It is a good look into the effects of recent legislation. It deals with important, current issues so is a good one to have read as it will provide a good base for discussion at interview.

Other books

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 About Law – Tony Honore  Understanding Law – Adams and Brownsword  The

About Law Tony Honore

Understanding Law Adams and Brownsword

The Law Machine Marcel Berlins, Clare Dyer

A Theory of Justice John Rawls

Law and Modern Society P S Atiyah

How to Do Things with Rules Twining and Miers

Studying Law Philip Kenny

On Liberty John Stuart Mill

Law and Disorder, Confessions of a pupil barrister Tim Kevan

The reluctant fundamentalist Mohsin Hamid

The English Legal System Slapper and Kelly

Journals / Newspapers

Times Law Supplement Absolutely essential helpfully summarises all the weeks legal events and issues, and provides comment. Should be read (and kept for future reference) every week until the interview.

Newspaper Editorial Comment Obviously stick to big issue topics in reputable papers! Good for seeing how big news stories are put in perspective. If you can read two different papers with opposing political viewpoints it will train you to argue from different sides as well. Newspapers are perfect examples of persuasive/informative writing and you can pick up tips, not to mention ideas to use in your own opinions about the big issue of the day.

Legal Listening

Moral Maze on Radio 4

Question Time on BBC television/BBC iplayer

Tom suggests…

1. Reading the newspapers in the run up to interviews can help students appreciate what is going on in the wider world. Thinking about how such stories impact on the legal world is also a worthwhile use of time.

2. There are few books that are essential reading for law but there are various texts such as Glanville Williams “Learning the Law” which can give a very useful oversight.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

Past Interview Questions The following questions have come up in Oxbridge interviews in recent years.

Past Interview Questions

The following questions have come up in Oxbridge interviews in recent years. We strongly recommend, however, that you use these to help you to think laterally about your chosen subject rather than to learn and rehearse answers to them.

If A gave B £100 thinking it was a loan and B accepted the money thinking it was a gift, should he give it back?

If someone is acquitted in Criminal proceedings, can they, and should they, still be liable to be sued in Civil Law?

How do you think the House of Lords should be reformed?

What interests you about Law?

What particularly interests you about (a specific case)?

Questions about the importance of tolerance in a pluralist democracy.

Multiple choice questions e.g. which of the following (A-F) is the most correct statement, given the information in each introductory paragraph?

What have you read in the papers recently that relates to international Law?

What do you know about employment legislation?

To what extent do you think that people who want to get married should be left to settle their rights and obligations to each other?

What is the difference between intention and foresight?

A cyclist rides the wrong way down a one-way street and a chimney falls on him. What legal proceedings should he take? What if he is riding down a private drive signed ‘no trespassing’?

X intends to poison his wife but accidentally gives the lethal draught to her identical twin. Murder?

Should stalking be a criminal offence?

Should judges have a legislative role?

Do you think that anyone should be able to serve on a jury?

If a man is stuck in a burning building and he shouts that he will give you all his money if you put a nearby ladder by the window for him to climb to safety, is he obliged to keep his promise?

Should parents have the final say refusing a blood transfusion for their child in a life or death situation, or should the doctor have the authority to do what is necessary to keep the child alive?

Is there a danger of favouritism and bias between judges and barristers?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 Is ethnicity race?  What is the definition of a miracle?  You are

Is ethnicity race?

What is the definition of a miracle?

You are a hunter hunting a fox. You are chasing the fox and it strays onto someone else’s land. You aim to shoot the fox but miss and someone else, not the landowner, shoots and kills the fox. Who has a valid claim to the fox?

A mentally disordered woman is pregnant. What are the justifications for insisting that a Caesarean operation is performed against her will?

What legal issues are at stake when a man, knowing he has AIDS, has sex?

How important are Jury trials?

Are the British obsessed with paedophilia?

Should previous records be revealed to the jury?

What is reasonable belief?

How far does Law apply?

Are some things morally wrong? Are they more serious as a crime?

Where do you see International Law in fifty years’ time?

How should we form Laws and should they make people happy?

A scenario might be given, e.g. one involving shipwrecked sailors who are forced to eat a shipmate, leading to questions about manslaughter, likely court judgements, diminished responsibility etc.

A man is lost in the desert and falls asleep. A second man comes along and empties the water from his bottle. A third man comes along and fills it with poison. Who killed/murdered the first man?

Why do we need Laws?

Is freedom of speech applicable to opinion?

In a society of angels, do you need Laws?

Would it be possible to have one legal system for the whole world?

What implications do the events of September 11 th have for international Law?

A group of sadomasochists practise illegal activities on each other but affect no-one else. Should it be allowed?

Legalisation of drugs, e.g. cannabis.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 Would you allow Rastafarians to take and carry cannabis (as part of their religion)?

Would you allow Rastafarians to take and carry cannabis (as part of their religion)? Is this fair?


it right for a council to kick out squatters who have been living in a property for 12 years because it


now worth a lot of money?

Smith sees Jones walking towards the edge of a cliff. Smith knows Jones is blind, but doesn’t like him, so allows him to walk off the edge. Is this murder?

Why is the USA a country when Europe isn’t?

Define theft in your own words.


I take a spark plug out of an engine am I causing damage?

all ginger Law tutors had to go to prison how would you convince me that me going to prison was good for society?


Which recent legal events have grabbed your interests and why?

Define logical thinking. Define lateral thinking. How do they relate to Law?

Why does the UK need a Supreme Court?

Explain the roles of juries.

How is Law able to uphold democracy?

you were walking down the street and someone took a photo of you to advertise custard, could you sue?


If you bought a bar of chocolate from a newsagent and when you bit into it you found that there was

a metal piece in it, would the newsagent be liable?

What changes would you make to Law with regards to [a specific policy]?

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

Can you justify reasons for breaking the Law? Give examples of circumstances when you would justify it.

Do you think Freedom of Speech should be restricted in certain circumstances?

How are Laws different in different countries and what effect does this have.


man offers some books for £50 and you agree but he does not hear the agreement and walks off


there an agreement?

Where does the state have the right to violate privacy?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 If you are sent a letter stating that if you do not ring and

If you are sent a letter stating that if you do not ring and decline the offer, it will be taken that you agree to buy the product X, should you have to pay for it even if you do not want it?

If you threw a brick from Mars and it hit a building on Earth, have you broken the Law?

A forces you to shoot C. A will shoot you, so you shoot C. Are you liable for murder?

Is international Law the first step to a single legal system and would it be possible?

What do you think is more important, actions or motives?

When does the Defence of Necessity apply? Do you think the Defence of Necessity would apply if explosive were strapped to a toddler sent into a crowded office building? (i.e. would you be allowed to shoot the toddler to prevent the explosives from going off)

Is it important to have a Law, which nobody keeps to?

How much power should the police have?

Is it always necessary to prosecute someone if they break a Law?

How does your background affect your way of thinking/reasoning?

How does having played an instrument affect my way of thinking/reasoning?

Do we have a constitution?

If a doctor performs a surgery incorrectly, what liabilities might he face

If the doctor performs a vasectomy, without following standard operating practise and the couple conceive, ought the doctor pay maintenance?

Why study Law as an academic discipline?

What have you done that proves you’re passionate about Law?

Is wearing school uniform a breach of human rights?

Is there a distinction between the Law and ethics?

What should copyright Law be?

What should the Law be on the wearing of religious clothing?

What are judges for?

What is the purpose of a jury?

Where does honesty fit into Law?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 What should the Law be on surrogacy?  If an employee is short of

What should the Law be on surrogacy?

If an employee is short of money and takes £100 out of the till at his workplace with the intention of replacing it the following morning, is this theft?

Is freedom of speech still a reality in a country with such tight anti-hatred legislation as the UK?

Should the state put health warnings on cigarettes; prohibit the consumption of some narcotics; prevent a person being allowed to sell themselves into slavery etc? Or is it just arrogant to assume the state knows better than the individual?

Can war be legal?

Are human rights a good thing?

Describe a threat.

What is the function of criminal Law?

What is the point of punishments?

Should we be able to sell our organs?

Should we have Laws for the use of light bulbs?

If a wife had expressed distaste for it previously, would her husband's habit of putting marmalade in his egg at breakfast be ground for divorce?

If half of society had to be killed, which sections of society would you choose to survive/die and why?

What have you done that proves you can cope with the demands of a Law degree at Oxford?

What is the difference between fault, responsibility and cause?

If my friend locks me in a room, and says I am free to come out whenever I like, if I pay £5, is this a deprivation of liberty?

When it comes to IVF treatment, should a male should have rights equal to those of a female?

In a pessimistic society, which believed that its people weren't able to get along with each other very well, would there be more or fewer Laws?

After I have been to the hairdresser and had my hair cut off, do I still own the hair?

If there is a Law allowing the military to shoot down any plane that is about to crash into a building, is that a good Law or not?

You may also be asked questions about judgement on a small case given by the interviewer.

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 Is pushing someone's head into the water in order to kill him and leaving

Is pushing someone's head into the water in order to kill him and leaving someone whose head is already in the water in order that he would die the same thing?

Do you think you're clever?


man lives in an area with a high burglary rate. He guards his house with alligators. A curious

trespasser, who sees the alligators, jumps over the fence to get a closer look, upon which he is eaten alive. Who is at fault and why?


trainee army pilot is taking a trainee flight. Both the engines on his plane fail whilst flying over

heavily populated town just on the coast. He parachutes to safety, but the plane crashes and kills a large number of people. Who is at fault?


What do you think the uses of traffic lights are?

Why Law?

What is your favourite subject you are studying at the moment and why?

Were the riots justified?

Read the given statute and summarise what it is about.

What books are you reading other than school/subject related ones?

Tell me about a recent piece of news related to law?

Do you think there should be more diverse range of judges?

Give both sides of the argument for giving stricter sentences for those involved in the riots.


is a fundraiser for St John’s ambulance. One day A visits B, a celebrity who is widely known to

be unintelligent. B gives A a £10,000 cheque thinking that it was a £1,000 cheque. She later claims that had she known that A was paid by St John’s ambulance, she would not have given any money. What do you think about this scenario? Do you think it matters that she is ‘unintelligent’ or that she was mistaken? How was she mistaken?


is a journalist. She puts a tape recorder in D(a famous politician)’s car. D has conversation with

to the effect that if E donates £100,000 in D’s election campaign, D will get him a knighthood. D then reveals that he cannot give E a knighthood. C is about to publish this article. What do you think about this scenario? Does the fact that they both had bad intentions matter? Does it matter that D cannot give a Knighthood as only the Queen can give a knighthood? Is it right that parliament should have sovereign power over rule of law?


Why do you want to study in England?

Here is a legal definition, 'x', apply to different situations.

How do other countries treat men? Women? How do they view the death penalty?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 Apply the Lord's judgement to another situation.  There are three men stranded on

Apply the Lord's judgement to another situation.

There are three men stranded on a boat: 2 strong and 1 weak. The 2 strong ones kill the weak one and eat him, in order to survive. Is this murder?

Do you agree with this judge’s ruling in this court case?

What would you do in a legally difficult situation such as


What do you like about school? What do you want to get out of University?

Do you think that academic studies are important?

Should court cases be open to the public? Why are they? When are they not? How can you make sure that private court cases are fair?

Define reckless.

Define super injunction

(Regarding the material) What is this material about? Do you agree with the judgement? What do you think of the reasoning regarding point X? If I told you there was a circularity regarding section X could you point it out? What is a public good?

Do you think that there should be more law or less law?

Can you give us another example of when international law has become relevant to a particular event?

Should someone's right to protest still be allowed if they wish to overthrow an elected government?

If I spend £30,000 to hire a hitman to kill someone, is that immoral?

If I spend £30,000 on a watch when that money could have been donated to charity, is that immoral?

“Murder is when someone intends to kill someone and does the action that kills them” Using this, who is guilty of murder out of these three scenarios? Scenario 1: Conjoined twins. Doctor performs operation that would kill weaker twin. If operation no undertaken, both would die. Scenario 2: A ship is sinking. Only way to live is by climbing up the ladder. One person just freezes halfway up so no one else can go up. Person throws her off. Scenario 3: Someone has a gun to my head and I shoot that person before they have the chance to shoot me. Is it fair that the people in these scenarios should be deemed murderers? What would you add or change about the initial definition?

Can you define intention?

Should immediacy be a pre-requisite when using necessity as a defence?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

 If the bank accidentally gives you money that they don't owe you and you

If the bank accidentally gives you money that they don't owe you and you spend it, should you have to pay it back?

If there was a judge of a corporate case who discovered her husband had shares in one of the companies, what if anything should he do?

If a government minister had resources for development to be used at his discretion, when he noticed several problems in his constituency should he be allowed to use the money in his constituency?

Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

Notes Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford


Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford

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Law (Jurisprudence), Oxford