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Law (Jurisprudence)

Law as taught in Oxford is much more than the mere learning and retention of detailed rules and their operation; it is a rigorous study of an academic discipline.

The course for the Final Honour School of Jurisprudence is for three years, and consists of papers in Law only (with the one exception of Moral and Political Philosophy). The four-year courses (codes M190-194) known collectively as “Law with Law Studies in Europe” (LSE) adds a year (the third year of study) at a European University to the three-year course. Jesus College welcomes applications for both courses, details of which can be found on the Law Faculty  website.

Law as taught in Oxford is much more than the mere learning and retention of detailed rules and their operation; it is a rigorous study of an academic discipline. The object is to understand the law, to see how it has developed and how it will develop, to criticise the law where criticism is just, to attempt to relate the law to the society in which and for the benefit of which it operates, and to investigate theories of what the law is and why the law should be obeyed – or, indeed, exist.

As will be seen from the University Prospectus, entry to both the three-year course and the four-year course is highly competitive. At Jesus College, normally eight candidates are admitted each year, spread between Law and LSE. It should be emphasised that the decision as to who is admitted for the “Law with Law Studies in Europe” course is not made by the College; the College puts forward candidates which it believes to be suitable for the course, but the decision to admit to the course is made by a group of academics looking at applications from all the colleges in the University.

Normally, one or two candidates a year in Jesus read the Law with LSE course: though there is no prescription. If a candidate for Law with LSE wishes to be considered for the three-year Law course, the College is very happy to accept that choice: and some candidates who have been unsuccessful in the competition for the four-year course have done very well in the three-year course. If, however, the candidate wishes to choose to apply only for the four-year course, that is a decision which the College will respect.

Teaching Methods and Work Load

Law is a time-consuming subject. Virtually every first-year undergraduate knows nothing of the law when he or she starts; he or she must therefore build up a body of knowledge which can be analysed and criticised.  Undergraduates are normally tutored in pairs – sometimes singly or in trios – and, on average, receive three tutorials per fortnight; there are, of course, lectures (up to eight or ten a week) which it is highly advisable to attend.  Seminars and classes may from time to time be given either as an alternative or in addition to lectures and tutorials.  Most of an undergraduate’s time is spent preparing for tutorials; a considerable amount of material has to be digested on each tutorial topic. A reading list is provided for each tutorial: and there is a considerable emphasis on the writing of essays and the answering of hypothetical problems.

Much of the work is likely to be done in the College’s own well-stocked Law Library or in the Bodleian Law Library, which has a collection of reference material second, in this country, to none.  Undergraduates are also allowed, subject to their Tutor’s agreement, to use the All Souls’ College library, which is within two minutes’ walk of College, and has a much wider collection of materials than the College. Much material is available online.

The College presently has two Tutorial Fellows in Law, Dr. Douglas and Dr. Jackson, who are involved in the teaching of undergraduates. Professor Mirfield, an Emeritus Fellow, also teaches for the College. The College also has the Allen and Overy Professor of Corporate Law, Professor Luca Enriques, and the Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow in Law, Dr Talita de Souza Dias. Their interests cover a wide spectrum of subjects. For many subjects, undergraduates receive their tuition within the College, but for certain papers tutorials will be given by tutors from other Colleges. The College also has a Law Society, at which visiting speakers address the society on topics of legal interest; its members participate in moots; it also holds social functions.

Joint Schools

There are no Joint Schools for Law, other than the Law with LSE courses described above.

In the first two terms, everyone is required to study three subjects; Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and a Roman Introduction to Private Law are all compulsory. The three subjects are examined in Law Moderations just after the end of the second term. The work for the Final Examination is divided into two phases. In the last term of the first year, and the whole of the second year, students study the following six papers:

  • Tort
  • Contract
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Administrative Law
  • Jurisprudence

In the second phase, the final year, students must study European Union law. In addition, they must study two optional subjects from the following list, though the Law Faculty does not guarantee that every subject will be available in every year, and, it is to be noted, the list may change from time to time.

  • Civil Dispute Resolution
  • Commercial Law
  • Company Law
  • Comparative Private Law
  • Competition Law and Policy
  • Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights
  • Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • History of English Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • International Trade
  • Labour Law
  • Media Law
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Personal Property
  • Public International Law
  • Roman Law (Delict)
  • Taxation Law

The College also welcomes applications for the Second B.A. in Law. This degree is confined to graduates, typically in disciplines other than Law. It takes two years, though, in appropriate cases, the College is willing to consider applicants to start in the Trinity (Summer) Term of one year, so to study here for two years and one term. The required standard of graduate applicant for this course is extremely high, with a first-class degree the norm. Details of the structure of this course are to be found on the Law Faculty website.

Dr Simon Douglas, a Fellow and Tutor in Law, teaches property law subjects (land law, trusts and personal property) and Roman law. His main research interests are in property law and trusts.

Dr Miles Jackson, also as Fellow and Tutor in Law, teaches in areas of public international law, constitutional law and administrative law. His main research interests are in international law.

Professor Luca Enriques is the Allen & Overy Professor of Corporate Law. His main research interests lie in the field of corporate law.

Dr Talita de Souza Dias is the Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow in Law. Her research interests lie in international law.

Professor Peter Mirfield, an Emeritus Fellow, teaches Criminal and Contract Law. His research interests lie in the Law of Evidence.

In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read Law and Law with LSE. The College is concerned to attract the best candidates. We are looking for candidates who are keen to study the subject and who, in our judgement, display an aptitude for it.

Our undergraduates come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Candidates are selected on the basis of academic record (e.g. GCSEs) and potential, as shown by performance in the written test, and in interviews if shortlisted.

Academic requirements:

Offers made to candidates will be conditional upon A-level results (AAA) or equivalent qualifications. There are no particular subjects which are most appropriate for the study of Law; the majority of applicants have ‘Arts’ backgrounds, but the College has regularly admitted those who have studied Mathematics or the Sciences. Mixed combinations of Arts and Sciences are perfectly acceptable.
Candidates are expected to have at least a C/4 grade in GCSE Mathematics, or other evidence to demonstrate that they are appropriately numerate.

Written test:

All candidates must take the Law National Admissions Test (LNAT) before or on 15 October 2021. A number of other universities also require candidates to sit this test. You can take the LNAT before or after you send off your UCAS application. The expectation is that you will sit the test onscreen in a test centre near your home. It will be a test of your aptitudes rather than your knowledge. Your performance in this test will be used as an additional factor in deciding whether to interview you and whether to offer you a place. Test centres are now located internationally. For further details, a specimen paper and information on how to register, go here.

N.B. Candidates for Law with Law Studies in Europe who are applying for the French, German, Italian or Spanish Law options may be given an oral test in the relevant European language in December if they are shortlisted for interview.

Deferred Entry:

Applications for deferred entry to Jesus College are accepted. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made. Please refer to departmental web sites for subject-specific advice. You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the strongest of the cohort for their subject. The College would not usually offer more than one deferred place per subject, in order not to disadvantage the following year’s candidates. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead. If you require any further advice, contact the Admissions Officer at: admissions.officer@jesus.ox.ac.uk

The Faculty of Law covers the full range of research in law but also has within it six specialised centres:
the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies; the Centre for Criminology; the Institute of European and Comparative Law; the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre, the Centre for Competition Law and Policy; and the Oxford Business Taxation Centre.

The following degrees are available at postgraduate level:

  • MPhil or DPhil in Law
  • BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law)
  • MJur (Magister Juris)
  • MLF (MSc in Law and Finance)
  • DPhil Criminology
  • MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • DPhil Socio-Legal Studies*
  • MPhil Socio-Legal Research*
  • MSc Taxation*

* the College does not normally accept students for these courses

Many undergraduates still choose to enter the legal profession, either as barristers or solicitors. The profession has considerably increased its numbers in recent years, but is still growing. However, many undergraduates who have read Law choose not to enter the legal profession, and those who opt for other careers have as wide a choice of career opportunities as any other “Humanities” graduates, and, on the evidence available, have no great difficulty in obtaining satisfactory posts over a wide spectrum of careers.

There is a first-year law prize, and the Welson Prize is awarded each year to the best lawyer, normally, but not invariably, in his or her second year. College Prizes may also be given for meritorious work or excellent progress. The Nikolas Tarling Scholarship is awarded to assist a LSE student in his/her year abroad. The College received a bequest from Viscount Sankey (Lord Chancellor 1929-1935); these moneys are used to aid members of the College who wish to be called to the Bar, and grants of up to £12,000 have been made.

The Sir Peter North Fund may make grants to those intending to practise Law, whether at the Bar or as solicitors.

Further information about Law at Oxford can be found on the Law Faculty website.

Information about Admissions is available here.

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