Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Welcome to Corpus Christi's Law Diary, 2019-2020

 

Corpus Christi is a community that welcomes anyone and everyone. We like to think we take ideas seriously, but don't take ourselves seriously. No matter your background, if you are interested in law, we are interested in you. The law degree is seriously hard work [see our Law course page], but we're here for each other to help. We have a clear majority of state school students but we certainly welcome everyone, and try to help everyone, whether through our textbook loan scheme, mentoring scheme with alumni or the student law society events. Want to know more? Each week during term-time, we are uploading a diary entry from a law student (or tutor, or alumni!) to provide an insight into studying Law at Corpus Christi College. We will be back next week with a new entry, so stay tuned!


If you'd like to gain an insight into studying Law at Corpus Christi, enter our Legal Reasoning Essay Prize or read about our annual Law Residential (applications open in January, please email the Outreach Officer for more information).


Law Diary Entry


Week 0 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Lorren Eldridge, Corpus’ Graduate Teaching Assistant. Lorren is doing a doctorate in legal history and is also part of Corpus’ law community as our tutor for two undergraduate subjects, land law and contract law.


It’s the start of the year! It might seem like academics get a long summer holiday, especially at Oxford where the terms are short, but the summer goes fast when you’re presenting at conferences, finally getting time to do serious archival research and writing, and (if you’re lucky) taking a short holiday somewhere in the mix. The undergraduates are coming back part way through this week, with the first years having a few days as a “freshers’ week”, and then second and third years arriving after. My teaching will pick up again and I will, like most DPhil students, juggle my research work with my teaching. I like teaching though, as it means that I get a break from the pressure of trying to write my thesis to use a different skill set. It keeps me on my toes as a lawyer, too: I did an Oxford law degree before training as a solicitor, but now my research is all about historical law - so I could easily lose touch with new cases and developments without my perceptive undergraduates’ tricky questions to keep me on my toes.


On Monday, I start my day with a language class to help with my research, since my research involves more than just English. I am taking a three-week intensive course at the moment, and it’s demanding. This is the last week, and it’s both a heavy workload and more structure than I am used to now – it reminds me of being an undergraduate again. After class, I deal with some admin relating to the new year and complete the written work for my next language class at 2pm – I have had two classes every day for the last two weeks. One of the big differences between being an undergraduate and being a graduate for me, especially one whose previous degree was a while ago, is juggling more life admin than the average undergraduate whilst trying to think and write and teach. In the afternoon I head home to visit my most important stress management tool for my DPhil: my dog, who will morally support my attempt to do yet more language work.


The rest of the week has the same schedule, but I like to move around different libraries: the Corpus library is excellent, but especially now undergraduates need the space more for their start of term “collections” (essentially mock exams). My second years especially will probably not enjoy seeing me in there right before they sit the contract law collection I set them on Friday. I might try the Radcliffe Camera, All Souls’ history and law focused library, or if I want true quiet, Duke Humfrey’s library in the Old Bodleian.


Tuesday I stop working at 1pm and have lunch at college. One of the best things about my job is that I get to eat meals with the college fellows, which means you get to hear about their research and pick up all sorts of advice and reflections on being a university tutor. When I have a difficult day, dinner with the members of the Corpus SCR (“senior common room”) can improve my mood a lot. Today an eminent visiting scholar in a field related to mine is joining us for dinner so I hear about some fascinating work past and present, too.


On Wednesday, Freshers’ flu strikes. I miss my language classes and stay at home. Because terms are so short, the undergraduates suffering from the same problem from next week will have to power through their work or fall behind quickly, and I have the same problem in order to keep up with them. I try and get as much rest as possible whilst doing the minimum of emailing to keep on top of things, and a sniffly version of me manages to make it to Freshers’ dinner in college with the new first years on Friday. It’s been nearly a year since we interviewed the new students last December, but we will soon get to know them very well as we teach them and watch them grow. The Corpus dining hall is filled to the brim with new students and their tutors. As someone who went to state schools, and who was the first person in their family to go to university, the Harry Potter feeling of a full hall hasn’t worn off for me yet, which is fine with me!



Image: A hummingbird hawk moth enjoys the college garden in the summer sunshine.


Week 1 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from second year undergraduate law student Hannah Taylor.


It’s the first week of term! All the undergraduates arrive back the week before term officially starts (known as ‘0th week’) but the normal tutorials, reading lists and lectures don’t start until the following week. It’s always quite hectic getting back to the jam-packed Oxford routine after 3 months of summer!


I finished my collections on the Friday of 0th week, so it is a quick turn around for my first Trusts tutorial on the Monday of 1st week. I find starting a new module exciting, but it always takes me a little while to really get my head around all the new concepts and cases. This tutorial was very theory-based, focussing on the role Equity has to play in English law. This was super interesting and hopefully laid a good foundation for the rest of the course! Written work is a part of most of the tutorials at Oxford but often the tutors will give you a couple of tutorials without essays throughout the term. We didn’t have any written work for this tutorial, which was a nice way to ease us back into the rhythm of things.


On Tuesday my lectures start again. The Oxford system means that lectures do not always align with what you are studying at any given time, so I am attending Contract, Tort, Trusts and Land lectures across this term. Tort and Trusts are my modules this term, and I find attending the lectures super helpful for comprehending the reading. We will study Land Law next term, but to get a feel for the subject through lectures is a nice way to make it feel slightly more familiar when we start!



Image: The Fellows Building and college gardens in autumn.


The rest of the weekdays are largely taken up with reading and writing for the two essays I have due in 2nd week for Tort and Trusts. I find the work always takes longer at the beginning of term when you have had a few months without having to read the volume of literature the reading lists require, but it just takes getting stuck in to get you back to where you were! I’m living out of college this year, so I try to go into Corpus every day to see everyone, and try to maintain a separation between work in college and being at home to relax and catch up with everyone who I haven’t seen since Trinity Term. I really like working in the Corpus library – it is absolutely beautiful and always nice to work with friends around you!


As well as work starting up again, all of the other commitments and extra-curricular activities you do get going in 1st week. Outside of my work I enjoy coxing and debating. Unfortunately, the good old English weather meant that no crews were allowed out for most of the week, and I’ve really missed it! Corpus has a very active boat club and anyone of any level can join, so I have learned to cox while I am here. I also had debating on Saturday evening, which was nice to get back into after the summer break. I am also the Returning Officer (counting the votes in meetings) in the JCR and we had our first meeting back after term on Sunday, so it has been all go this week! I am looking forward to settling back into a routine (very busy) Oxford lifestyle over the next few weeks.


Week 2 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Julia Laganowska, who is a third-year law undergraduate.


It’s quite astonishing how quickly time flies at university. One moment you’re a fresher, enjoying all the unknowns, and then suddenly you’re a third-year, coming back from your summer holidays to finals looming on the horizon. There’s this feeling amongst us all of trying to make the most of the last terms at Oxford, whilst getting in as much study time as possible. Not an easy balance to strike, but definitely achievable.


My week is quite packed with seminars, lectures and tutorials. This is because I’m doing one full subject and half of two other courses. Third year subjects are particularly interesting as we got the choice of picking two ‘options’, and so far everyone I have spoken to says it has worked to their advantage. With the core subjects, I found it to be a bit ‘hit or miss’: there were ones I enjoyed significantly less than others, which always seemed to affect my work ethic. Now however, even though the workload is at times less than ideal, there isn’t much complaining as you chose the options you are genuinely interested in. I’m taking the advanced criminal law and media law courses, and I’m not lying when I say this is the most fun I have had going through the reading lists. The ‘option’ subjects are also a great way of meeting new people – although the college system is amazing it allows you to make close friends across different subjects, it does mean there is less opportunity to get to know other people doing your subject. For lawyers, the only time you see everyone in your year is at lectures (and that’s if everyone attends…). Option subjects, however, are seminar based, with groups of around 25 people, meaning you get to work and spend time with a new group of peers.


The third subject I am taking this term is EU law, especially interesting with Brexit as a constant topic of discussion. Coming from a different EU Member State, I’m finding it very engaging not only to learn about the approach the UK takes towards implementing EU law, but also to compare it to that taken by Poland. My tutor has been very accommodating, to the point of allowing me to write an essay based on the recent developments and the constitutional crisis in Poland, which fit in with our tutorial on EU law supremacy and fundamental rights.


I do find myself in the library more often this term than others, but you can’t only spend your time studying. Oxford has a lot to offer both in terms of extracurriculars and career planning opportunities. On Sunday my friends and I spent a nice evening in the board game café, as a way to de-stress before the start of the week. Wednesday found me attending an Inns of Court event, held at Oxford Brookes University. It was an introduction to the aspects of becoming a barrister one may not necessarily be aware of and a great opportunity to find out more about all 4 Inns, with the representatives happy to answer any question. On Friday, I got to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday by attending a formal hall dinner, the celebrations all the better for the amazing food and chance to dress up. On Saturday, the weather was quite grim, with constant rain and a sudden drop of temperature, but that did not stop the members of CCC Boat Club, and four outings in total took place. My second one may have ended with a small case of frostbite, but it’s impossible not to have fun with the other members of W2 (Women’s boat 2) always joking around. Sunday, however, was a beautiful (although quite chilly) day and after getting through my work due Monday (an advanced criminal law seminar on general principles of criminal law – it felt quite nice to see that I still remember something from my first year criminal law course), my friends and I spent the rest of the day in the College gardens and walking around Christ Church Meadow. As my family back home always jokes, you need to make the most of sun in England – I don’t have the heart to tell them it rains just as much back home as here.


 


Image: The Radcliffe Camera in the sun.


Week 3 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Christopher Stackpoole, a postgraduate research student studying for an MPhil in law.



Image: Some Halloween pumpkins - both Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ night are causes for celebration in Oxford.


It is week three of Michaelmas Term. Although it is mid-Autumn, the cold morning breezes are an early herald of the coming Winter in Oxford, making my morning walk less preferable to another hour’s bedrest. But coming from Australia, arriving in Oxford City is always a pleasant experience, with its magnificent architecture and obvious history.


I am now studying for the research degree of Master of Philosophy in Law (MPhil) after having completed the taught masters called the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL). That means two things. First, I spend a lot of my time sitting in on some interesting BCL classes, such as Jurisprudence and Political Theory and Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law, that I was unable to undertake during the BCL due to timetable restrictions. There is nowhere better than Oxford to learn about legal philosophy. Second, I spend the rest of my time in studious reflection about exactly what it is that I want to say on the subject matter about which I am supposed to be writing.


I use the word ‘reflection’ with some intent. The object of my research is legal doctrine, and so it must be accountable to the positive law. However, my aim is to construct an intelligible framework in which our legal ideas in a particular area of law might be situated, and to connect those ideas with our moral lives. Although legal doctrine consists in part of empirical facts, they can be created, amended, and abolished, aim to guide human behaviour, and both reflect and reconstruct our moral and social norms. And so, even doctrinal scholars must not only ask what law is but whether it is a good law, and against what criteria we, as a society, consider that a law should be adjudged ‘good’.


Corpus Christi is a most excellent college in which to engage in such reflection. It has truly beautiful gardens, with species of plants from across the world. And it has elevated seating areas where you can overlook nearby colleges, sporting ovals, and gardens. Its library is well-resourced, quiet, and comfortable. But perhaps it is the ornate and elaborate detail of the architecture of the College which leaves the first, and most lasting, impression.


This weekend we had celebrations for Guy Fawkes. Although rain fell, as it so often does at this time of year, the darkened sky was ignited with colour from the fireworks released throughout Oxfordshire. And these colours illuminated the ancient buildings of the colleges of Oxford, as a great bonfire burned in the South Parks. It is times like these that one recalls the words of Hilaire Belloc: that there are few greater temptations in life than to remain forever at Oxford.


Week 4 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Rhys Surtees, a first year law undergraduate.


It feels almost surreal to be sat writing an entry regarding a week four of Michaelmas term, I can’t honestly decide if this is because it feels as though I have been at Corpus for a long while, or barely a minute. By this I mean that studying at Corpus Christi, and Oxford in general, has been such a whirlwind of positive experiences in both the academic and social senses, and time can feel like it’s flying by. Equally, I feel like I am settling into the routine and demands of Oxford and beginning to feel more accustomed to the style of work and life here, which makes me feel as if I have been here a considerable length of time.


My week began with a constitutional law tutorial at Wadham College. One thing you shouldn’t be worried about at Oxford is being bound to the academic confines of your college - though each college, especially Corpus, has amazing tutors, you are lucky to be able to draw on a wide range of tutors across Oxford. This can be through tutorials such as this one, but also lectures and other academic events organised by the law faculty or law societies. I enjoyed the constitutional lecture in which we talked about the doctrine of separation of powers, particularly in relation to debate about Brexit and the related recent constitutional cases, articles.


My workload always feels immense, but when I break it down and begin tackling my reading in a focused manner it is achievable. The three subjects all Corpus first years will study in the first and second term are Roman Law, Constitutional Law and Criminal Law. I am thankful that we study them concurrently, unlike some colleges (who only do one and a half subjects in the first term and the other one and a half after Christmas) as I gain a lot from using lectures to supplement my knowledge from reading, and that helps me write essays. I also find lectures give me a good set of structured notes, a valuable asset to build on. I found in the first few weeks the lectures for all three subjects were quite general in content, and didn’t go far beyond the reading. However, now the lectures are becoming more specific and the lecturers are varying, particularly for constitutional law, and I have started started to gain a much more comprehensive understandings of different approaches to, and principles in, law. One downside of the high workload is that it can bar you from going to the many other subject related events on offer, for example I had to prioritise criminal reading this week over a law society event I really wanted to attend.


I have always enjoyed exploring extra-curricular activities, so I was excited about this part of coming to Oxford too. At college level I am trying to start rowing, and although I have been too busy to do the circuit training sessions, I am hopefully going out on the water this weekend. The biggest extra-curricular commitment for me is my acapella group: ‘Out Of The Blue’, with whom I spent this week’s Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings rehearsing. Though it can sometimes lead to greater time pressure for work, it is definitely worth it and not unmanageable. Overall, week four was busy, especially with two tutorials fairly close together (Monday and Thursday) but I still managed to fit in some time to go to the gym, which takes my mind away from work for a while. Roll on week five!


 


Week 5 MT 2019


This week’s diary entry is from Will Andrews, a third year law undergraduate.



Image: Somewhat rare sun on Walton street on a beautiful, cool day.


Home to the ‘fifth week blues’, the fifth week of term is known for being a tough bump when the days have grown shorter and there is still a considerable amount of work left to get through before we get time off for Christmas. I must say, however, that despite the cold and rainy weather it has been a very enjoyable week.


I am a third year student moving rapidly towards final exams, and am studying three courses this term as opposed to the standard two throughout the course so far. In addition to completing our final mandatory subject (EU law) we have begun our optional subjects, which have so far been very interesting and rewarding. For my options I chose Environmental Law and Moral and Political Philosophy (MPP).


I have wanted to study and practice in environmental law right from when I made my application to study at Oxford and the course has not disappointed! The course is run by Prof. Liz Fisher at Corpus and Dr. Joanna Bell at St. Edmund’s Hall, who have so far put together some wonderful seminars on the theoretical underpinnings and planning law aspects of environmental law. Having one of the UK’s foremost environmental law academics, textbook writers and tutor in Prof. Fisher at Corpus is an absolute privilege and a reminder of how lucky we are to be students at Oxford and at a college like Corpus.


As for MPP, it has been a very refreshing move away from Public and European Union law and towards topics such as Aristotle, Kant and Utilitarianism. I have been attending seminars at Balliol which has provided a nice opportunity, as Julia said above, to meet new students in the faculty and to explore a new college.


On Monday I started the day with a second year lecture on tort theory: I have been doing my best to attend lectures on modules I have already completed to kickstart the revision process and to get some older concepts back into my head before finals. I then worked on an environmental law essay which was due in at 5pm for a tutorial the next day (it may have been a few minutes late…). Then, in the evening, I had Ice Hockey practice (a means for me to exercise my Canadian heritage) to burn off some steam.


On Tuesday, I read for and attended an environmental law tutorial which focused on the planning law aspects of environmental law and protection, with particular focus on the private/public interaction with regards to planning policy. It was nice to revisit some tort law here in the interaction between planning law and private nuisance. After the tutorial I spent a nice evening cooking and relaxing with my housemates.


Wednesday morning began early with an Ice Hockey practice at 7am, a nice way to start the day. I then headed home and prepared for an MPP seminar on Aristotle and virtue ethics at Balliol that afternoon. I had a nice walk through Christ Church meadow as it got dark, in the cold with the river overflowing from recent rain.


Thursday and Friday were reasonably busy with lectures, a seminar, and reading for two tutorials early next week. I went to some really interesting EU law lectures on the free movement of goods and constitutionalism, followed by some more revision lectures on contract law on Thursday. It had been ages since I had spent much time on contract so it was nice to dip back into it. Friday, I had an environmental law seminar and then, when our college Football match was cancelled, I headed to the Oxford golf course with a friend for what we though would be a nice round of golf. However, it turned out that the golf course was more strict on apparel than we realised - we only made it to the third hole before we were sent home to find ourselves some proper trousers and golf shoes…I was only one over par through two holes, though, so I counted it as a win all things considered.


Saturday was an Ice Hockey game day. We travelled by coach to play Cardiff and eeked out a 1-0 which made the late coach trip back more bearable. Sunday, I read for and wrote an MPP essay on Utilitarianism for my tutorial on Monday. All round a nicely varied and non-blue fifth week - amazingly there are now only 3 weeks left in term, hopefully only partly spent reading through this overly long journal entry!


Week 6 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Chantelle Richter, a second year law undergraduate.


Now that it is 6th week, I am officially ¾ of the way through Michaelmas term! This term has gone so quickly that I did not even experience 5th week blues.


My weeks always begin with an afternoon trusts tutorial at Lincoln College. Our tutor for trusts is a fellow Corpuscule (someone who studied at Corpus when they were an undergraduate). At the moment, my tutorials are on Trusts and Tort. This is my first term of second year, but I already began studying Tort at the end of first year because a few Oxford subjects take their first-year exams in second term rather than third term. Most of my time studying is spent in Radcliffe Camera, an infamous library, which most Oxford students abbreviate to the ‘radcam.’ I also spend some time in the Bodleian Library but only if my friends force me to go (I have an inexplicable bond with the ‘radcam’).



Image: The statue of John Radcliffe inside the Radcliffe Camera.


Wednesday is my busiest day of the week because I study both Law and French Law. I have French classes from 2-5pm. In first year, our classes were only 1.5 hours but now that I am in second year the classes are longer and more intense, as our teachers are trying their hardest to make sure we are prepared for our year abroad next year. The classes are normally easy to follow, unless you lose focus for a minute, then it’s really difficult to catch up on what the teacher has said in French.


On Thursday, I attend gymnastics with my twin sister (she has just started studying at Wadham college) and our friend. Taking part in sports at University is a great way to relax and meet new people.


The weekends are the best part of the week for me because it means I don’t have to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock. College brunch is a great way to start a Saturday morning and catch up with friends after a Friday night. I try to get as much work done as possible during the week so that I have more time off on Saturday and Sunday. I am normally more social on a Saturday. By Sunday, I am exhausted and cannot wait to attend Corpus Cinema Club at 9pm, which always shows the best films and accompanies them with snacks.


Week 7 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Sampada Sudheesh Venkatesh, a first year law undergraduate.


It’s seventh week already, and almost the end of term! My week was quite intense (and as I’m starting to learn, every week here is!), but I do feel a nice sense of satisfaction when I finish the week and look back on how much I have achieved. I tend to work in the Corpus library, but sometimes like a change of scene and spend my time in the Law Library in the Law Faculty instead. This is especially so when the weather forecast of the day isn’t very promising (and unfortunately in this country, that’s quite often!) because then I can move between lectures and the library without having to make the 15 minute walk between them.



Image: Sunshine coming in through the windows of the gorgeous Corpus library.


As a first year, I study 3 subjects this term. This means that we run on 2 week cycles, having a tutorial in each subject once every 2 weeks. So, seventh week was the start of the last cycle of term. I spent the first half of the week reading in preparation for my Roman Law tutorial at Corpus on Wednesday. For the tutorial I also had to write an essay on property in Roman Law, particularly on the relationship between ownership and possession. The second half of the week went in reading for constitutional law, where we are currently studying parliamentary sovereignty. I am also finishing up an essay on it, which is due ahead of the tutorial at Wadham College on Monday of eighth week.


I particularly like the schedule of tutorials at Corpus in first year because of its well-structured approach which allows me to devote 3-4 days on a single topic. This is very important because each tutorial builds on previous ones, so it’s very helpful to be given sufficient amounts of time to spend on each topic. Moreover, studying law for the first time can get very overwhelming and so it is great to have your schedule already made for you in the best possible manner. While the 2 week cycle and having essays due on Sunday evening might mean that you may not always have a free weekend, I instead try taking a break on the evening of the day of my tutorial and spend time with friends, stock up on groceries, or do my laundry!


I think one of the best things about being at Oxford is the many opportunities around you that complement your academic learning. On Tuesday, a London law firm hosted a dinner for members of the Frederick Pollock Corpus Law Society. I really enjoyed the evening, and had the chance to interact with and learn about what kind of work the firm does from one of their partners, who happens to also be a Corpuscle! On Thursday, I attended a lecture and conversation with an international legal diplomat from Pakistan, hosted by the Oxford South Asian Society. As someone who hopes to pursue a career in the same field, it was great to hear his perspective on international law and conflicts in South Asia.


Apart from this, I am a member of the university badminton team, so I attended a couple of training sessions. We also had elections for some of the Junior Common Room (JCR) committee positions this week, and I won the post of International Students Officer - a role that I am very excited about as I get to involve myself in the college community!


That’s all from me - looking forward to the last week of term and then getting back home to India!


 Week 8 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Sahima Sajid, a third year law undergraduate.


Week 8 marks the end of term and as clichéd as it sounds time has flown by! On the Sunday a couple of friends and I went ice skating, which was fun - although falling on ice was not as fun. The day ended with all of us getting a takeaway and watching a Christmas film, which was a great way to de-stress and approach the rest of the week.


I spent most of Monday and Tuesday doing the reading for my essay on the legal approach to sexual offences. This was part of one of my optional subjects for this year - Advanced Criminal Law. I enjoyed studying Criminal Law in my first year, so it’s great to be able to study it in more depth as a finalist.


On Wednesday I had my last tutorial of the term at Exeter college. Although I have had many tutorials in Corpus, I have also had the chance to have tutorials in other colleges, too. As has been mentioned by other lawyers, it’s a great way to meet other law students as well as getting to visit other colleges!


I then spent most of Wednesday and Thursday catching up on Medical Law and Ethics (my second option for this year) lectures. Medical Law is an exciting and incredibly relevant subject, that involves dealing with topical issues like IVF, surrogacy and patient autonomy.


Thursday ended with me going to the Christmas Formal dinner at Corpus with my friends. Christmas formal is slightly more special than usual formal dinners - apart from being a great excuse to dress up and have a fancy (Christmassy) meal, you also get to hear the choir sing and get crackers! Afterwards, we all went to the Beer Cellar (the Corpus Bar) and I got to talk to friends I hadn’t seen in a while.


Friday meant it was the annual Law Christmas Party. This is a highlight of Michaelmas Term for all lawyers, with lots of food and mulled wine, it’s not to be missed. It also meant that I could talk to many of the 1st and 2nd year lawyers I hadn’t seen in a while, which was lovely. We opened our crackers to find whistles, which resulted in us all whistling Christmas songs together. X-Factor watch out! Aside from the crackers all of us had a Christmas stocking with our name on (courtesy of our kind tutors). It’s always fun to see what the stockings contain, and this year didn’t disappoint. We then played some law related games - which were more fun than they sound. Since I’m a finalist this was my last Law Christmas Party, which meant I could take my Christmas stocking with me - a cool memento to mark my time in Oxford.


Saturday was officially the last day of term. This involved lots of packing and people leaving for the Christmas vacation, so a day of many goodbyes. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family over the vacation and relaxing after a busy term.



Image: A college bust of former tutor E A Lowe gets a festive cheer makeover.


Week 9 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from Professor Liz Fisher, who is a fellow and tutor in Law at Corpus and specialises in Environmental Law.


 


Image: Dahlias in the Corpus garden.


Oxford terms are 8 weeks long. “9th week” then should perhaps not exist - but it does, and it is a busy week, particularly this term as it is the week we do admissions interviewing.


Monday


I spend the day doing a lot of administrative tasks - writing references for people who have requested them to help them with applications for jobs and other degrees, writing the end of term reports for students, preparing for admissions interviews later in the week, and other bits and pieces. I am also in the process of finishing off a book manuscript with a co-author. We have been working on the book for over 8 years and are now in the final stages. This is checking everything is in “house style” - meaning that it is formatted and the way the publisher of the book prefers, with the correct fonts, spacing, and other style features, and checking for typos. We have had an amazing research assistant helping us so there is relatively little to pick up. The evening is spent reading written work my doctoral students have sent me in preparation for Tuesday.


Tuesday


A busy day seeing a number of my doctoral students, teaching an E.U. law tutorial, and doing more preparation for admissions. Each doctoral student is working on their own project - which will eventually result in a 100,000 word thesis for each of them. It is hard and challenging work - and it can be quite lonely at times. My role as supervisor is to read through the work they send me carefully and to be a sounding board for their ideas. Each student I see is brilliant in their own way and doing inspiring and wonderful work. In the evening it’s more work on my own book - assembling the final chapters into a master manuscript.


Wednesday and Thursday


Admissions interviewing - these are the two most intense days of the year - we spend them interviewing a group of wonderfully talented applicants who are applying to study law on our undergraduate degree. We only have 7 places, so the choice is a very hard one. Interviews, while not the only thing taken into account, require 100% concentration from us as well as those we are interviewing. These are two long and busy days - although given how impressive the applicants are, it is also inspiring. We interview in pairs and each interview is primarily focused on asking the applicants questions about material they were given 30 minutes to read and think about prior to the interview. We don’t expect any applicant to know any law, so we assess the applicant’s application, reasoning, and communication skills. Each applicant has two interviews at Corpus before we make any decisions.


Friday


My book manuscript is finally assembled and now just needs to be checked off by my co-author. I have some more administrative bits and pieces to complete, but it is a nice end to a busy week.


Week 10 MT 2019


This week’s entry is from alumnus Ryan Hyde, who is Governance Officer at EFL Trust, and graduated from Corpus in 2016.


EFL Trust is the official charity of the English Football League, and our work revolves around providing support and funding opportunities to each of the 72 official charities of the member football clubs in the EFL, known as Club Community Organisations (CCOs), in carrying out their work in their communities all across England and Wales. My role in particular involves supporting each of the CCOs in their work towards complying with the governance framework set up jointly by EFL Trust and the Premier League Charitable Fund, the Capability Code of Practice (CCOP), which was recently ‘Highly Commended’ for the award of ‘ICSA Governance Project of the Year’ at the ICSA Governance Awards, losing out only to HSBC for their Global Governance Excellence project. I am also heavily involved in our internal governance at EFL Trust.


The week began with what felt like a rare day in the office! The next deadline for CCOs to submit evidence demonstrating compliance with CCOP was only a couple of weeks away, so emails and phone calls were flooding in with queries about what is required for individual recommendations. There are fourteen different areas covered within CCOP, ranging from Governance to Communications and Safeguarding to Strategy, so the requested support from each CCO always varies significantly. Additionally, the size of CCOs across the network can vary hugely, with the largest being multi-million pound organisations with hundreds of staff, all the way down to the smallest CCOs having only one or two members of staff, so ensuring the advice is always tailored to the CCO is absolutely key. Having spent most of the day dealing with these queries, I finished the day by preparing for the rest of the week ahead.


On Tuesday, I clerked our Audit and Risk Committee meeting. The Chair of our Audit and Risk Committee is the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), so the meeting was held at the PFA’s offices in Manchester. The committee were provided with updates on our risk register, an update on the performance of CCOs for Capability, the most recent management accounts and financial report, as well as a recent external audit that EFL Trust had gone through. At just three hours long, the meeting was completed in record time, so I then made my way to the train station and travelled down to Reading for my meetings on Wednesday.


On Wednesday morning, I had a meeting with the Community Trust Manager and Governance Officer at Reading FC Community Trust. As is true of many of our CCOs, Reading have typically performed very well for Capability, having engaged very well with the process and shown a genuine commitment to be fully compliant as soon as possible. This meeting was therefore just to help them ensure they could get completely over the line for full compliance in time for the next deadline. I then travelled across to Wycombe in the afternoon for a meeting with the Head of Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust. Wycombe are a CCO who have engaged really well with the process, but felt they needed a bit of extra support just to get a better understanding of what exactly they needed to do to ensure they could improve as much as possible prior to the deadline. Although only meeting for two or three hours, it was good to see how much benefit it was to the head of the trust, who now felt they would be able to complete the submission in time for the deadline. Following this meeting, I then travelled to Ipswich for my meeting on Thursday.


On Thursday, I had a meeting arranged with the Head of Community at Ipswich Town Community Trust. Ipswich have only just re-established their community trust in the last few months, and so I have been working very closely with them to help them get up to speed as soon as possible. For the purposes of Capability, we have agreed with Ipswich that they only need to submit evidence of compliance with the four priority areas within CCOP (Governance, Safeguarding, Finance and Health & Safety) for the upcoming deadline, as opposed to the entire code of practice. This is to allow them a reasonable amount of time to be able to work towards compliance with CCOP, while still ensuring that we can be confident in their ability to carry out their work in the community at this stage. During the meeting, I therefore focussed on the four priority areas with them, providing them with guidance and templates for the policies and procedures that they would be required to create and implement prior to the deadline. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, it has been great to see the progress made by Ipswich over the last couple of months, and I have no doubt that this will continue going forward.


On Friday, I had taken the day off work as I had been invited to represent EFL Trust at Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s annual gala – A Night to Flourish! Given that the role of EFL Trust is to support the CCO network, rather than directly carrying out the work in the communities, it is sometimes difficult to see the impact that the work you do is having on communities. As a result, attending an event like this, and hearing some of the incredible stories of how Shrewsbury Town in the Community has changed people’s lives, really reminded me of why what we do is so important. The story of one boy in particular, Ben, who has been involved with EFL Trust’s Every Player Counts programme, really did hit home just how big an impact the work we do has. If you have a few spare minutes, then please do take a look at this article and video of his story at https://www.shrewsburytowninthecommunity.com/bens-journey-efl-day-of-disabilities.


After what has been one of my busiest weeks since starting this job, it was certainly a relief to be able to get home on Saturday and spend the rest of the weekend in my hometown, hopefully recovering in time for yet more travelling next week!



Image: The cloisters at Corpus on a wet winter evening.


Week 1 HT 2020


This week’s entry is from Roman Kenny-Manning, a second year law undergraduate.


It’s first term of the new decade! Like all undergraduate students, I came back the previous week to complete my collections (mock papers you get at the beginning of every term). Naturally, I would probably rather the first thing I had to do when I returned to Oxford after the Christmas break was not exams, but there is something about collections which throw you right back into Oxford life like nothing else. You do also begin to appreciate how useful it is that Oxford gives you this opportunity to refresh your memory and recap the material you covered in the previous term(s) in this way. All of this will never stop me moaning about them…just a bit.


This term we are starting two new subjects: jurisprudence (legal philosophy) and land law. Studying jurisprudence at Oxford is exciting since Oxford is the home of legal philosophy. It marks a departure from the type of learning involved in the other subjects: there are no cases for a start. Instead, jurisprudence is more theoretical, giving us the chance to form our own views on questions like ‘what is law?’. Land law is also different to the modules I studied previously. Land law is heavily statute based; however, cases are still a significant feature in the learning. Although I have only read some of the material for my first tutorial, I can already see that one of the brilliant things about land is its connection with the real world. The fact patterns that are coming up make it so engaging because you can really imagine or relate to someone you know being in that position. Starting a new subject is exciting. But it is also very humbling; the first reading list you come across you feel like you’re almost thrown back into your first ever tutorial, with a completely new set of material to get to grips with. Nevertheless, the legal skills that you learn throughout your time here leave you well-equipped to approach new topics with the confidence you need.


Work has not been the only thing keeping me busy at the start of term. I also play tennis for the Men’s Blues, so a fair chunk of my time during any week is taken up with training and playing matches. We play indoors which is a relief given the weather at the moment and we have to train hard next week in preparation for a league match against the ultimate enemy: Cambridge. I also sit on the Committee of the Tennis Club as alumni officer, so I am currently busy organising our annual alumni dinner as well as organising the different projects we have going on at the club like rebuilding our clubhouse. All very exciting. Seeing your friends after the break is one of the great things about coming back. I am currently living in a college owned house with 7 of my friends so we had a huge home-cooked dinner to celebrate returning after the 6-week break, all looking forward to the term ahead.



Image: Early crocuses on the Corpus lawn.


Week 2 HT 2020


This week’s entry is from Sing Yeap, a third year law undergraduate.


The second-to-last term for finalists sounds overwhelming; if anything, it feels pretty surreal. To keep ourselves grounded while working on our degrees, my friends and I have been focusing on ways to stay mentally and physically healthy. Our tutors emphasise that going through the law final exams is like running a marathon; this means we run together, pace ourselves, and keep the faith. This week was part of that process.


Monday


I started Monday bright and early with lectures for both my “Options”, which are two third-year subjects that we get to pick for ourselves. I decided on Family Law and Company Law, two subjects aptly contrasted by the day’s lectures: both happened to be about protection, but one was concerning children and the other creditors.


The lecture on Child Protection highlighted the sheer number, and fragility, of balances that had to be struck in this area. How interventionist, or how supportive of parents should the law be? Where do we draw the line between speeding up processes and potentially overlooking a life-changing aspect of the case? These are tricky questions, especially since they involve children’s risk of abuse and neglect.


Protecting creditors, on the other hand, involves a range of strategies to reflect the many types of creditors a company has. From banks to victims of wrongdoing, they have diverse needs and fears, and are far from a homogenous mass! The lecture covered material which is relevant to more than one tutorial topic in the subject, which helped me draw many connections.


I also worked for a while in the Bodleian Law Library, which I enjoy for its spacious main floor illuminated by a grand skylight (currently being renovated), a perfect complement to the Corpus Library’s cosy, antique wood interior.


It was my turn to make dinner tonight: as we live on an off-site College residence, my flat has a dinner-cooking roster to ensure we all get home-cooked food daily. I always try to smuggle as many vegetables as possible into my meals, and what better conduit to use than a cheesy pasta bake?


Tuesday & Wednesday


These were mostly spent preparing for my EU law tutorial, which revolved around how EU courts examine the validity of acts carried out by EU institutions. For this tutorial we learnt about clementine growers, traditional winemakers, and whiting fishermen, among others! Having interesting claimants gives us an additional dimension to think about, such as the fates of these groups before and after the court cases, and the impacts of EU decisions or regulations on them. On a wider scale, we see just how extensive the impact of EU law is on everyday businesses and people.


Thursday


I attended a Corpus Peer Supporters’ meeting, which occurs twice a term with Judith, our college Chaplain, and Midge, our nurse. We have been trained by the University Counselling Service and are part of Corpus’ Welfare Team, comprising of staff and student personnel who are ready to offer confidential support for anything affecting your life at Corpus.


My EU Law tutorial was shortly after and was also at Corpus, with Professor Liz Fisher. This was an exciting one where we had our assumptions completely turned on their head, as we went through how various contemporary attitudes and historical events shaped judges’ decisions, and how the same legislation changed in importance and use over time. Given that it was the day before the UK was to leave the EU, the tutorial ended on a slightly bittersweet, sobering note.


Before heading home, my tutorial partner and I managed to catch up briefly over ice-cream.


Friday


This week coincided with the Lunar New Year! To many of East Asian origin, including Chinese descendants like myself, the holiday is as significant as Christmas combined with American Thanksgiving. Friday in particular was the seventh day of the New Year, also known as Renri. In Chinese mythology, it was the day humans were created—so it’s everyone’s birthday! That was the perfect reason to meet up with two close friends from home who study at different colleges: we enjoyed a rare trip to the neighbourhood of Summertown for some delicious Chinese food to end off the week.


Week 3 HT 2020


This week’s entry is from Rhiannon Percy, a first year law undergraduate.


This week is quite a quiet week for me – I only have one tutorial and one essay which is due on Sunday evening. This is a very welcome lull, and a well timed one, as at the end of this week is our annual Corpus Challenge! For the Corpus Challenge a large number of undergraduates from the Oxford and Cambridge colleges respectively named Corpus Christi travel to each other in alternating years for a day of competitions. The contests range from sporting events to quizzes and a law moot, and the day is finished with a dinner in the college hall and evening celebrations. That means that on Sunday, most of the JCR (“Junior Common Room” – meaning the undergraduate part of the college) will travel very early in the morning to our sister college in Cambridge for the day. Apparently, the mixed netball is viciously competitive, and I am looking forward to it.


At the weekend at the beginning of the week, I had visitors from home, and so Monday morning I broke my usual routine to take my friends to the Ashmolean museum, which the university’s museum of art and archaeology. I hadn’t made time to visit the Ashmolean by myself since coming to Oxford, but would highly recommend it. Once my visitors had gone home at lunchtime on Monday, I had a Roman Law lecture and I dropped off my Roman law essay (my tutor this term is also the lecturer) before going back to college for dinner.


The rest of the week was taken up by the reading for my next tutorial, occasionally interrupted by lectures. On Thursday morning, we attempted to go rowing, but the weather continues to work against us at the moment and it was too foggy.


On Friday night, I went to a ball at the Oxford Union (a debating club in Oxford, not to be confused with the student union, which is confusingly called OUSU instead) which I was (somewhat ill-advisedly) convinced to attend despite the busy weekend ahead.


On Saturday, for the first time in what felt like forever we were able to row in a real boat on a real river! The water level has been dangerously high for most of the winter and has prevented a lot of rowing practice, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. Lots of other rowing teams thought the same, which had the unfortunate side effect of making the river very crowded.


Week 4 HT 2020


This week’s entry is from Kathryn Farrow, a law postgraduate studying Criminology.


I am currently in my first year as a DPhil student here, but this is my second year at Corpus; last year I undertook the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The change from studying for an MSc, which is heavily guided by your course tutors, to a DPhil, which is predominantly independent research, is quite a jump. My thesis focuses on the internal working culture of one particular police force, and the first year of my DPhil project will be spent preparing for the observational work I will be carrying out with them. This means filling out copious amounts of ethical approval forms, meeting with my point of contact in the police to discuss my ideas with her, and doing a lot of reading around my area of interest.


The biggest challenge for me as a fulltime student has been leaving the world of work after nearly ten years. I have moved from an incredibly structured environment to one in which my time is pretty much my own. But it also allows me the space to learn in my own way, as well as providing me with time for reflection. The aim of my DPhil is to produce a thesis of 100,000 words, and this week I began writing what I hope will be my first chapter.


As part of being an ESRC Grand Union scholar, I am required to undertake quantitative research methods training, which is essentially four hours of statistics class first thing on a Monday, every week. This does not come particularly easy to me, but the professor has a great way of explaining things that makes it just click. This is the one class a week that I have - aside from this, how I organise my time is completely up to me.


As I am on the entertainments committee for the MCR (the “Middle Common Room”, which is the postgraduate part of the college made up of Masters and Dphil students), this week I have spent a lot of time with the other entertainments officer planning a Valentine’s Day themed bop (college party), as well as an exchange dinner with Exeter College. These events provide a much-needed break from work, and give us all an opportunity to catch up and unwind after what is usually a fairly intense week.


One of the more difficult things about being a postgrad is juggling the various responsibilities this entails. Mine include my research, meeting with my supervisor, helping to run the entertainments team, finding time to go to the gym and my pilates classes, working at my part time job whenever I find the time, and seeing friends. The last of these is particularly important to me. One of the best things about being a postgraduate at Corpus is the MCR community, and it played a big role in me deciding to stay on and do a DPhil after my MSc. I try to drop by the MCR most days, to catch up with friends and take a break from my work. The warmth and friendliness of the college has been a huge bonus for me during my time at Oxford, and I'm more than happy to spend the hours I had intended for extra curricular activities to build and maintain the friendships that I hope will last me for a lifetime. Before embarking on my research, I’d heard that DPhil life can be very lonely at times, and I’m incredibly lucky to be able to say this has never been the case for me, thanks to the postgraduate community at Corpus.


  


Link to the Law Diary 2017-2018


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

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