Corpus Christi College Oxford

Follow Corpus Christi College Oxford on Facebook

Follow us on facebook

Welcome to Corpus Christi's Law Diary, 2017-2018


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 now closed).

Dear Readers,

The academic year in Oxford has come to an end, and so too has our diary. The full story, since the first week in October 2017, is visible on this page, and will stay up for some time. We hope it has given you an insight into the patterns of life, and of lives, connected with law, with University, and with Corpus Christi College. The 'brief' for each author was simply to tell the reader about the week just lived, ideally with some element of law in it. It's been a real pleasure for us, the Law Fellows, to read each entry, chuckle with our students present and past, see our shared experiences from different perspectives and reflect on the community we are lucky to have here. We hope you have found, or will find, something of interest and inspiration in these little stories too. We also hope, as a number of our students demonstrate, anyone, regardless of background, can aim for University, law, and perhaps even a University that is not easy to get into, if that is what you want and you are willing to work for it.

Matt Dyson and Liz Fisher

Trinity Term 11 June - 17 June Week 8

Will Andrews (1st year)

Week 8 of trinity term for a first year undergraduate law student provides an interesting mix of work, summertime activities, excitement to be finishing the year, and sadness that the year has slipped by so quickly. Throughout the first year it has been great to watch the city change with the seasons, and summer has certainly not disappointed. The weather throughout the term has been warm and sunny and university parks, Christ Church meadow, and the various other greenspaces around have been in full bloom and provide a great place to relax. More generally, the beautiful buildings of the many colleges are shown off in the warm weather and breaks from studying have felt like brief holidays.

As for work, the first year law students are currently studying contract law and tort, with two contract tutorials and one tort tutorial every fortnight. The topic this week for tort was trespass to the person (assault, batter and indirectly but intentionally causing harm) and defences for tort claims. In contract, we finished off the subject’s tutorials with the topics of duress, undue influence and unconscionability. These are where what might look like valid contracts are in fact lacking the real consent which should underpin agreements between the parties. Contract involved an interesting discussion of illegitimate pressure placed on parties in the formation, interpretation and vitiation of contracts and the remedies available to them.

We spent our first three tutorials in tort studying negligence. This is the most common tort: a claim A bring against B for B’s wrong to A, and usually A is seeking compensation (known as “damages”. Negligence is a pretty big topic, and we’ve been looking at all of the intricacies and exceptions to the general rule that one owes a duty of care to their neighbour, established in the case of Donoghue v Stephenson, a particularly famous snail in the ginger beer case.  The intentional torts of trespass to the person provided a nice contrast to the negligence we had been studying. The trespass to the person torts focus on you personal inviolability, rather than the harm suffered or the carelessness of the wrongdoer. All in all the week was not too heavy for work, with the tort reading due on Tuesday for the tutorial and contract reading due by Thursday with an essay due the day before at noon. I have really enjoyed contract and tort as they are both highly prominent subjects in terms of societal influence and give rise to very interesting cases.

A word must be said about the quality of tutors at Corpus. Not only do they cover the content of tutorials in an palatable manner, and push students to be on top of things and go beyond the core material, the tutors here are caring and show a genuine interest in personal progression and enjoyment. As an international student coming from Canada, Corpus has been a perfect place for my first year – the college embodies the cliché ‘small and friendly’ but goes beyond that being full of great people and extracurricular options, whether athletic, musical or theatrical. 

Aside from work, Oxford summer provides a wide range of fun activities. On Monday I played cricket for the college team which, coming from Canada I haven’t played properly before. Like all other college sports it has been great fun – a perfect balance of competitiveness and enjoyment as teams are made up of a mix of experienced and more beginner players. Spending some time fielding, pausing for drinks, and doing some batting is a fantastic way to spend a summer afternoon. Having finished work for the term and the year on Thursday, prospects for the summer became much more real and I am now very excited for a trip through Europe with some friends from home and then time spent at home with family. We also have to prepare for a college exam on contract law in early October when we get back. As always, though, the feeling at the end of the year is bittersweet. It is difficult saying goodbye to people I have spent so much time with over the past 8 months, the best thing about being a first year is that we have another amazing two years to look forward to, and October isn’t really all that far away!

Trinity Term 4 June - 10 June Week 7

Timothy Chen (BCL/MJur Masters in Law graduate student) 

Week 7 in Trinity Term, the third term of the year, can easily be the most stressful week in a graduate student’s life, especially if they are enrolled on the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) course. This is because the examinations for this particular course, labelled by some as one of the most difficult in the common law world, are typically held during week 8 and 9. What that also means for me is that a whole year of beautiful memories (including some “beautifully” painful all-nighters studying about loss and gain-based damages in commercial remedies) is about to come to an end in climactic fashion.

It might have been safe to assume that my week was going to be an uneventful one filled mostly with images of the cases and articles. I am most pleased to disappoint.

As with most legal tests, my year on the BCL has been a balancing exercise. Fortunately for me, it does not involve any of my fundamental rights being compromised for another. Instead, it has involved a possibly more complex balancing exercise that even most judges struggle with on a daily basis, and that is finding the right balance between work and life. This exercise has proven to be fruitful, as even when the immense stress from examinations would have resulted in me tipping the scales in favour of work (or life, if it gets to that stage), I remain focused on my pursuit towards the right balance.

On the academic side of things, my revision this week has been focused on analysing the general principles of civil procedure as part of one of my modules on the BCL. Learning about the efforts of the civil justice system towards identifying the right balance between, on one hand, ensuring that justice on the merits is obtained in every case, and on the other, the costs concerns that accompany it, has enlightened me about wider socio-policy concerns that stretch beyond mere black-letter law. As graduate law students, the legal principles and issues that we are exposed to are inherently more complex than we have studied before, which is both challenging and exciting. It generally also involves the law of more than one country. As such, drawing from the diverse range of student nationalities on the course, we are encouraged to utilise cross-border comparative studies to find possible solutions for the problems we are discussing.

In the time that I was not researching on the distinction between the various approaches to case management and procedural justice, I spent my time preparing for a half-marathon that I am due to compete in this August. Fortunately for me, I live next to a beautiful place called Port Meadow, where rabbits, and occasionally, horses, accompany me on my runs (see photo of friendly horse attached). Staying physically and mentally healthy is clearly one of the key factors on the “life” side of the scale, although it most definitely has benefits on the “work” side of things too.

Finally, Oxford is most definitely a place where you can learn very much about the law. More than that, studying law specifically at Corpus, has provided me with an environment where greater life lessons, above and beyond the law, have been learnt. Enough about life for now, and back to the books I go!

Julia Laganowska (1st year) 

Trinity Term 29 May - 3 June Week 6

Julia Laganowska (1st year) 

I am currently a first year undergraduate law student at Corpus, and while that means I have taken my exams last term and am in the midst of quite a relaxing Trinity term, it also means week 6 was spent on preparations for the last component to pass this year – the moot. For those not yet familiar with that concept, it is a form of competition that simulates a court hearing. The participants are required to analyse a problem (in our case a contract law appeal to the Supreme Court), research the relevant law on that topic to support ones submissions and present an oral argument in front of the judge. This is certainly a great opportunity to test your public speaking skills and improve on the legal research skills (that up to this point were to a great extent restricted to just looking up the relevant cases from the reading lists). However, it is also quite a challenge – I, for one, did find that I do not necessarily agree with the point of the appellant I am supposed to be representing as senior counsel, which meant I had to put even more effort into finding cases and points of law to back the point up. Hopefully, what I came up will be enough to get me through the moot.

I have to admit, the whole idea of presenting the arguments in front of an actual judge is stressful in itself. Coming from a civil law country (Poland), the study of English law has been really interesting; however, it is the opportunities such as these that really show the difference between approaches to the subjects. Moots are not commonplace back home; in fact, a law student will rarely ever get any practical experience as part of their degree, unless they manage to find an internship during summer. The universities’ approach is purely theoretical. This does help to appreciate the Oxford approach to the subject.

But let’s not pretend that work was all that my week consisted of. As I mentioned, no exams means a more relaxed approach to life in Oxford, allowing me to fully enjoy all it has to offer. This includes walks around the numerous parks, punting, and visits to the cinema. I was lucky enough to have my family visit at the end of this week as in Poland, (the Catholic feast day) Corpus Christi is a bank holiday – I found it quite surprising it wasn’t one for Corpus Christi College, but to be fair the College did host a wonderful formal. Showing my family around made me realise how at home one feels after spending almost three whole terms in the city. I feel that for quite a few internationals a huge fear is not getting accustomed to the culture of the place so far away from your own country. I can fully vouch for the change not being that difficult at all – Corpus, for one, is a college full of wonderful people ready to help you all the way through the adjustment period. Having just come back from a charity garden party, where I spent a fun afternoon with my dear, not-so-new friends, it’s difficult to imagine being anywhere else.

Trinity Term 21 May - 28 May Week 5 

Zoe Kuyken (2nd year) 

I am currently a second year at Corpus, and I am glad this week was my diary entry, as I was especially busy!

Last week I was involved in a play, a completely new experience for me, so this week involved a lot of catching up on work. The benefit of doing an essay-based degree is that your time is flexible, but this can also be a challenge in its own right, as it is easy to mismanage time!

This week I had two essays due; one for administrative law and one for jurisprudence, as well as preparation for my first class in the Jurisprudence option. Within Jurisprudence, one of the 12 subjects you study in Oxford, focused on the philosophy of law, we do a research essay over the summer based on seminars and on our own reading. We get to choose the topic from within a wide range and I have chosen ‘freedom of speech.’ I especially enjoyed the reading for this, as ‘freedom of speech’ is a term thrown around a lot, so it was interesting to explore what it means, and how this varies between jurisdictions. While I doubtless do spend a lot of time in the library, it isn’t always repetitive: I have watched a wedding in the chapel from there, and this week, Lord Brown, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, popped into the Library to look around with Liz Fisher (one of the Law Fellows at Corpus), who introduced me to him- surreal seeing as I had been reading his judgments that week.

One of my favourite things about Oxford is the number of talks you can attend. On Monday I went to a seminar series by Oxford Transitional Justice Research on forced steralisation in Peru. OTJR talks are weekly at the faculty, and are interesting to attend as they are niche, hence I get an insight into an area I previously knew nothing about. On Tuesday I attended a talk by a barrister as part of Bar Society, which I am involved in. It is interesting to learn more about careers and explore the different routes practitioners took to get to where they are now, as well as to meet other students from across the university. On Wednesday I went to the Student Union Council meeting, and took notes to report back to college.

On Wednesdays I read with a primary school student whose first language is not English as part of Schools+, which is a nice way to get out the ‘Oxford bubble’ and I enjoy seeing that she is progressing. On Wednesday a friend and I also traditionally go for a burrito, as there is a student discount, which is a highlight of the week!

On Thursday I had my Administrative law tutorial with Liz Fisher. The second year lawyers had met the day before the tutorial to discuss the reading and try to get a better grasp on the reading, but this is never as useful as Liz’s use of diagrams and analogies! This week was on the Human Rights Act, so was quite statute based, and the interplay between powers was interesting but difficult to pin down. On Thursday I also had a moot to prepare for on land law, so I had to put together my argument to submit.

On Friday, after my last jurisprudence tutorial of term, on whether and if so, why the legislative has the right to authority, I rowed in the Summer VIIIs rowing regatta, substituting into Corpus Womens 3 ‘rainbow’ boat, where we dressed up in fairy wings and party hats!

After working so hard over the week, I had a lovely weekend, with rowing and supporting the other crews taking up most of Saturday, and the annual Corpus tortoise fair on Sunday, where tortoises from lots of colleges race, and there are stalls and performances for charities. The photo you can see is of some of the tortoises lining up for the race, which is presumably a skill acquired from all the training they put into the race.

Overall I feel I evaded the notorious ‘fifth week blues,’ and it was an exciting week packed full of lots of work but lots of other events on the side!

Trinity Term 14 May - 20 May Week 4 

Prof. Liz Fisher

Nearly all my undergraduate and masters teaching falls into the first two terms of the year. That means I have been putting this week to other uses than equivalent weeks in those two terms…

Monday: First up, talked to a research student about the student’s work, wrote some references, and then off to a workshop put on by the University Counselling Service about how to help people who are experiencing a panic attack. I am currently Acting Welfare Dean in the College. The Oxford University Counselling Service is an amazing resource, and this like everything they do is excellent. The session not only provides some practical tips, but explains the physiology behind a panic attack. Back to Corpus for a work meeting over lunch, seeing some more students, and then a tea party to wish those students who are sitting exams well. The accompanying photo says it all! (Well, not quite all, the people in this photo are attempting to “BE…the Rule of Law”, which clearly we all felt quite differently about!)

Tuesday: I am working on a draft article I submitted to a journal. As is the normal practice, I have been sent referee reports on the manuscript recommending revisions. Articles take a long time to write. Responding to criticism is an important part of the process as it always improves the piece, particularly be helping you tighten the argument. Part of the morning is also taken up with reading the work of a research student who I then see in the afternoon. In the evening, I work on a joint article with two colleagues in the US as well as continuing to work on the draft article.

Wednesday: An important dimension of academic life is bringing people together to explore topics together. This morning I’m working on the organisation of such an event. This is teamwork in action as these things require the input of many. I see more students and spend part of the day talking to a visiting American academic about our mutual intellectual interests. Both of us do a lot of comparative research studying other jurisdictions. This is challenging work- trying to understand another jurisdiction is not easy - but it can yield great insights not only into the other legal culture, but also into one’s own. Dinner out with some colleagues to talk about law.

Thursday: Met with a student first thing and then off to the library to do some more reading. In reworking the draft article, I realised I need to revisit another scholar’s work, which is both challenging and enriching. Then back to College to chat to the graduate students I advise over lunch. Administrative law tutorials in the afternoon on the topic of the administrative law implications of the Human Rights Act 1998. The case law and academic literature is complicated and so fabulous fun to discuss. This is particularly when this group of students are so keen, lively and engaged. In the tutorials, there is a lot of experimenting with ideas and a lot of laughter! In the evening, more administration and then marking essays.

Friday: The morning is taken up with a mixture of administration, writing (that draft article again!), and seeing a student. Then it’s the College’s Joint Consultative Committee in which senior and junior members discuss issues together. At the heart of Oxford life is the committee system, and these are important forums in which to hear other people’s views and find ways forward on issues. Academic guest over lunch, seeing more students and then off to a book launch from someone I admire: a nice way to end the week.

 Trinity Term 7 May - 13 May Week 3 

 Sahima Sajid (1st year)

Monday: The week started off with great weather, meaning only one thing – ice cream! Apart from enjoying the sun, I spent most of the day getting through my contract reading list. This week’s work looked at what amounts to a breach of a contract and what remedies are available to the innocent party when a contract is breached. It was interesting to see how courts dealt with different breaches of contracts and the factors which affected the types of damages a claimant could receive. I then went out for dinner with a few friends, which was a nice break from reading.

Tuesday: I spent the morning in a mooting research class to help prepare for a moot that I, alongside all the other first year lawyers, will have to do later in the term. A moot is like a mock court case in which different people represent barristers on either side of the case, before a judge. Once I had got back from the class I spent some time preparing for my tort tutorial, taking place in the evening. The tutorial focused on the concept of duty of care and breach of duty. It was interesting to discuss how the rules used to impose a duty of care had developed over time through cases and whether they were satisfactory.

Wednesday: This was an exciting day as it consisted of hustings. Several positions in the JCR Committee were up for election, and candidates interested in applying for those positions gave a speech followed by a questions and answer session. I (successfully) ran for the role of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) representative, and I intend to plan exciting events for BME students as well as providing lots of support.

Thursday: The day consisted of a contract tutorial, where we went over this week’s work. We focused on the theory of contract law (i.e. why a breach of contract should result in damages being awarded to a claimant and when one party should be forced to complete performance of a contract) which you wouldn’t expect to do when studying contract law but was still pretty cool. I spent the evening at a pro bono event put on by the Law Society, it was nice to see the practical application of law in day to day life (whilst studying law you can often forget the impact the law has on society and especially on the most vulnerable people in society).

Friday: I had a contract class in the morning. This was extremely useful as it helped make this week’s work seem clearer and was a good overview of what we had studied. In the evening I went to a social event for Oxford students from Birmingham and the West Midlands. It was nice to meet people from my home region and find out how I could help support prospective students from my home region.

Saturday: The weekend began with (in my opinion) the best meal of the day – brunch. Brunch at Corpus is always a highlight of any week, including tasty hash browns and (lots of) pastries – its not a meal to miss! I spent the day getting through the reading for my tort tutorial next week.

Sunday: Similar to Saturday, I spent the day doing more reading. However, I did spend the morning playing rounders with other members of ISOC (Oxford Islamic Society), which was much fun but quite tiring too.

Trinity Term 30 April - 6 May Week 2 

Alex Rye (2nd year) 

I am enjoying my second year at Corpus, I have found it to be a welcoming and friendly place. This week was particularly exciting, since it was unusually busy.

During the day on Monday I primarily worked through my reading for administrative law. This week was an interesting topic since it concerned when and how the court should intervene when a public authority had made a mistake. I liked seeing how the courts had to balance the correction of the mistakes, with the understanding that the public authorities are at times better placed to make the decisions, since they are more likely to carry the necessary expertise required.

In the evening I attended a talk in another college concerning Brexit. The talk was good as it considered the issue through a political as opposed to the legal perspective I am used to. After that I went to the pub with a friend. Since the weather was fairly decent we were able to sit outside in the pleasant evening sun.

Tuesday was an exciting day because it happened to be May Day. In Oxford there is a tradition that everyone stays up during the night before, so that when May Day comes everyone converges onto a bridge and listens to a choir sing at 6 o’clock in the morning. It was therefore a somewhat unique, though tiring, start to the day.

On Wednesday I had my administrative law tutorial. This was useful since the tutorial was able to clarify difficulties found within the reading, and allowed me to see where some of the writers were coming from. After my tutorial I went horse racing with some of my friends. This is the first time I have ever done this during Oxford, and turned out to be an enjoyable day.

On Thursday I worked on my Jurisprudence essay. The topic this week concerned how judges approach making legal decisions. I found this week fascinating since it allowed me to understand how the decision making of judges can be justified with principles. It perhaps challenged the perception that judges were simply applying the law created by parliament, since it is not always possible for them to do that.

On Friday I had my jurisprudence tutorial. I enjoy these tutorials since the tutor often challenges my opinions, so I find myself having to hold onto my ground and defend my position which will be helpful in the long run.

Over the weekend I mainly set to work on next week’s reading, although on Saturday morning I did go punting with some friends which was a fun way to spend a warm sunny day.

Trinity Term 23 April - 29 April Week 1 

Voraphol Malsukhum (Mo)

When Dr Matt Dyson, my college advisor, asked if I would like to contribute to the Corpus Law Diary project, I did not hesitate. A diary entry meant that I could record anything I thought about studying law at the Corpus Christi College (‘CCC’) and I didn’t need to use legal terms or an academic format. Aftertaking atrip down memory lane, rather than picking up on a particular story, I decided to write down my overall reminiscences about Corpus Law. Having lived and studied here for around five years, I think I can describe Corpus Law as my ‘Home’. According to the general definition in the Oxford Dictionary, home is a place ‘where you live and feel relaxed and comfortable’... but, as we know, this definition becomes more dynamic and lively in real life, as attested by some of the memories below.

First, if your native language is English, but you have had to learn German or French for some reason, you might understand how difficult it is to study in a second language. During my first year at Oxford, I suffered terribly from this and it was worse when I studied Law because legal English is a ‘whole new ball game’ and there are no common universal scientific terms or formulae. While I was very confident using my native language (Thai), I felt like a complete idiot in the first lectures at the university. I felt terrible when I said something and listeners looked doubtful or looked at each other. Of course, it was not their fault, but mine. When I feel sad like this in Thailand, I go home for some warm encouragement from my parents, but Thailand is 9589.64 kilometres away from Oxford (13 hours to get there by direct flight). A round-trip ticket costs more than £700 or 70,000 air miles. In those days, I often wished I had a magic carpet that could take me home in a second.

Fortunately, I had CCC as my second home. The teachers, porters, gardeners, other staff and friends at the college were all so kind to me, and tried (very hard I’m sure) to understand what I was saying. The most impressive memory I have of that time was when I mentioned this problem to my supervisor, Professor Liz Fisher, and she replied, ‘Please don’t worry Mo. I can only speak English, but you can speak both Thai and English, so, you are better than me’. I had never imagined that a super clever and world-class Oxford professor would talk to me like this! Not only did it boost my confidence, but I thought to myself, ‘I could only find this kind of treatment in a place like home.’ With this thought and my lovely college/family members, I started to feel relaxed and comfortable at CCC.  

Secondly, studying Law at CCC gives me the same feeling I get when I read books and talk to my parents at home. More specifically, when you are outside home, you sometimes can’t say exactly what you think and feel, particularly when it might upset or annoy the listener. The simplest example is when you go to a restaurant and the waiter asks you if the food was to your liking. Even though it wasn’t, as long as it wasn’t unhygienic or overcooked, you can’t bring yourself to say that it was terrible and you will never come back again. In the context of studying law, since it naturally involves debate, it is inevitable that you and your teachers will have different opinions. While it’s alright to voice your opinion in a humble way sometimes, it’s often better to keep it to yourself. However, I’ve never had to worry about this at Corpus Law. I could argue about anything as long as I had reasons to support my argument. The teachers: Liz, Lucia, Matt and others, have never forced me to believe what they believe. Indeed, they have always respect my ideas and pay attention to them. After I have completed the reading, I can say what I really think without worrying that they will be upset or blame me for disagreeing with them. Instead, they might suggest other books for me to read to get a well-rounded perspective of the subject.

Thirdly, if New Orleans is the home of jazz and Thailand is the home of Tom Yum Kung, Corpus Christi is the home of studying law. As someone once said, the most important task for a university is to put the best teachers in a room with the best students. At Corpus Christi, the teachers are not just the best in their field, but they also have a great spirit for teaching, which is evident from the time and attention they never fail to give their students. When I become a full-time lecturer in a university in Thailand after graduation, they will be my inspiration and divine influence throughout my entire career. As for the students, it might be a bit unrealistic to say that they are all close friends. Yes, you may like and be friends with many of them, but you may only feel that your chemistry matches a few. However, it’s important that they have a similar mind-set and respect others’ opinions and beliefs, as encouraged by the college’s culture. It’s like having a different personality from your siblings, but sharing a similar mind-set. This mentality of respecting others makes it a pleasure to attend a tutorial or revision class at CCC. So, if you are looking for authentic, hot and spicy Tom Yung Kung, then go to Thailand, but please go straight to Corpus Law if you want a cerebral and cosy home for studying law (both the brain-space and the physical-space are well constructed).

I have many, many more fond memories of my home here in Oxford that I will never forget, but I guess my diary should not be too long (It might has already been!), so I will content myself with closing by saying that I will really miss my ‘Home Sweet Home’ at CCC when I have to leave it (suppose to be soon), because there’s ‘no place like home’.

Trinity Term 16 April - 22 April Week 0 

This week’s entry is from (Professor Sir) Anthony Bottoms, Emeritus Wolfson Professor of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and Life Fellow of Fitzwilliam College. He read Law at Corpus, graduating in 1961, and was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the college in 2012.  

Monday to Wednesday: In March 2017, I was commissioned by the Sentencing Council of England and Wales to write an independent report focusing on how the Council might best exercise its statutory functions. This was intended as a short internal study for the Council’s eyes only; but earlier this year it was decided that the report should be published, with a brief response by the Council. Last Friday, I received a draft of the Council’s response, with a request for comments. Over the weekend, I’ve decided that, although there are some points of respectful disagreement between us, this is not the time to pursue them, so I reply by raising just a few matters where I think the Council’s text needs to be clarified. My suggestions are accepted and the report, with the Council’s response, is published on Wednesday. In the coming months, it will be very interesting to see how the report is received by those concerned with sentencing issues.

Wednesday: Today I’m busy with a group of ‘students’ on the part-time Master of Studies course in Penology at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology (I’m officially retired, but I still do occasional bits of teaching). This isn’t a normal student group; they are mostly mid-career professionals from the prison and probation services.  They come to Cambridge for three two-week blocks of teaching in each of two calendar years, and write essays and a dissertation when they are back at home.  This morning I lead a seminar with first-year students doing their first block; the topic is a theoretical discussion of the concept of legitimacy, plus what we know from empirical research about how legitimacy plays out in prisons.  In the evening I attend the weekly formal dinner for this group, and I’m delighted to learn how positively they are responding to the teaching they’ve been offered in the last ten days, and how relevant they are finding it for their professional roles.

Friday: Today I make the train journey from Cambridge to Oxford for a very special event at Corpus. Current law dons Liz Fisher and Matt Dyson have decided to found a law society in the college (the ‘Frederick Pollock Law Society’) to enhance students’ experience of reading law, and to build better links between current students and Corpus alumni involved with legal matters. Tonight there’s a foundation dinner for the new society, and I’m one of five people who’ve been invited to say a few words about what being at Corpus meant to them. I’m really glad that they’ve taken this initiative, and I’m delighted to accept the invitation. Before the dinner there’s a session on legislation – a topic that, as Liz Fisher rightly says, is somewhat neglected in legal education. Liz herself kicks off the discussion with an illuminating look at just how many legislative provisions need to be considered when making a proper analysis of a single topic (the law relating to wind turbines). She’s followed by two alumni – Saira Salimi, Speaker’s Counsel, on (among other things) how the Parliamentary process can affect and even distort a statute; and Pushpinder Saini QC, who raises the intriguing possibility that the Supreme Court might in theory rule that a statutory provision could be overridden by a fundamental principle of the common law. There’s much food for thought here, and it’s an excellent demonstration of the benefits of a college community, past and present, coming together to discuss a legal topic. 

In my comments at the dinner I reflect briefly on a curious aspect of Corpus’s history. Sir Frederick Pollock, after whom the new society is named, is best known as the co-author of Pollock and Maitland’s seminal History of English Law. He was a Fellow of the college, and Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence in the university, from 1883 to 1903. He was preceded in this professorship by Sir Henry Maine, and succeeded by Sir Paul Vinogradoff  - both, like Pollock, legal historians who are still read, a century or more later. But the Professorship disappeared from Corpus in 1925, and by 1958, when I matriculated, the college had no law dons – my tutorials all took place at Balliol. How on earth did the college get from A to B?

 Despite the absence of law dons, I have the fondest memories of my years at Corpus - its small size and friendly atmosphere were ideal for me at that stage of my life. Indirectly, too, I found my vocation during those years. Criminal justice wasn’t then an option in the law syllabus, but there was an undergraduate society called ‘Crime a Challenge’ which I joined, and which stimulated my first interest in criminal justice – an interest that has never subsided.

And so to bed. I’m staying in college, in the Fellows’ Guest Room (12.1). By chance, this is the very same room that a friend (later my best man) and I shared during our second year as undergraduates. Lots more memories…..

Hilary Term 12 March - 19 March Week 9

This was the week of Law Moderations, the examinations sat by first year students, which have to be passed to continue on to the next two years.

The pass rate is high though, across the University less than 3% failed, and they re-sit the next term. The Corpus students' traditional celebrations after finishing (4 of the 6 students photographed here) were then fully justified by their results!

Hilary Term 5 March - 11 March Week 8

Jeremy Huitson (3rd year) 

 As a finalist, I am coming to the end of my time as a student in Oxford. Whilst it can be stressful at times, it has definitely been an incredibly rewarding experience.

 On Monday, I attended a lecture on leases in Land law. Land was one of the subjects in law that I used to find difficult, and somewhat uninspiring. Whilst it still isn’t exactly my favourite subject, it is certainly beginning to come together a lot more.

 On Tuesday morning, I had a revision class on Administrative law. Rather than focusing on any specific topic, it took a broader, more general look at the topic. I think that looking at the law from this perspective is often incredibly useful - it’s easy to spend too much time trying to figure out what one individual case is meant to mean, and as a result, losing sight of the wider narratives at play. Indeed, often focusing on the narratives can help to understand the significance of the individual cases!

 I also went to see the new Michelangelo exhibition at the Ashmolean museum. It centred around his sketches: rough blueprints for buildings, initial ideas for paintings, and even pictures that he had drawn in order to teach his students how to draw. This was fascinating, and I think that one of the most significant parts of the Oxford experience is the world class resources, whether related to your course or not, that exist in the university and city.

 On Wednesday, Leeds United lost 3-0 to Wolves. It was not a good day - the less said about it the better.

 I spent Thursday doing some contract and tort revision for my final exams next term. After this, I went out for drinks with friends in the evening. On Friday evening there was the end-of-term “bop”within college. This is essentially a fancy dress party held for the members of your own college, and is always good fun. Corpus has a reputation as being “small but friendly”. Unlike larger colleges, everyone basically knows everyone else here.

I spent much of the weekend preparing to clear up my room (I was moving out on the Monday to a different college property over the vacation). In addition to this I spent time preparing for my Medical Law and Ethics exam, which I am sitting next week in the format of two extended essays. This is a popular optional module, which I’ve found incredibly interesting, in particular the ways in which legal and ethical reasoning entwine, and how ethics can and should influence the law’s position on certain issues.


Hilary Term 26 February - 4 March Week 7

Sir Christopher Nugee (Corpus Christi Alumnus) 

Our diary entry this week is by Sir Christopher Nugee, who is a judge of the High Court of England and Wales. Sir Christopher studied classics at Corpus, before being called to the Bar in 1983, becoming a QC in 1998, and being appointed to the Chancery Division of the High Court in 2013.


An unexciting start to what promises to be an unexciting week. I have a judgment to write from a long trial I did last year and I am not due to have a hearing in court. Apart from a few “paper applications” (reading the paperwork and deciding, without an oral hearing, whether to grant permission to appeal to the High Court) I write some more of the judgment.

Later all the Chancery judges go into court to welcome the new Chancery QCs, a warm and affectionate occasion which gives the impression of venerable tradition, but is actually quite a modern invention.


I have unexpectedly been asked to hear a trial. Another judge was due to hear it but discovered he is a friend of the brother of one of the defendants so stood aside. It is due to last 3 weeks, and I have 2 days to read into it. It is a claim in “knowing receipt”, that is that the defendants are liable as constructive trustees for receiving property transferred in breach of fiduciary duty. The defendants are said to have been obliged by the branch of the law we call “equity” or “trusts” to hold property on behalf of others (the beneficiaries). In this case, it is said that the defendants are constructive trustees, meaning that there was no formal declaration of a trust, but a trust arose because of how the relevant people behaved. The law of trusts certainly prevents a person improperly receiving property he or she knows to be the subject of a trust. The facts are complex but in essence the claim was that a group of investors put their money into a land development company and appointed managers to run the company and to borrow money from a lender for that purpose. The company was formed to buy a plot of land with the aim of getting planning permission for a development. Getting planning permission will immediately increase the value of the land, before a single brick is laid. The company then intended to sell for a solid profit for the investors. Getting planning permission took much longer than expected and the company ran out of money. The investors started asking awkward questions and the managers reacted by getting the company’s lender to appoint receivers. Receivers act when a company cannot fulfil its financial obligations and have wide powers to deal with the property. The receivers did what the managers in fact wanted, and sold the land to the managers. The managers proceeded to get the planning permission and sell the land for a vast profit which they pocketed while the investors lost all their money.


The defendants’ skeleton arguments all say that the claim is bound to fail as the (alleged) facts are no different from an earlier Court of Appeal case (Brown v Bennett) where a very similar knowing receipt claim was struck out as bad in law. That case essentially said that there was nothing said to be wrong with the sale by the receivers, and the receivers were entitled to sell the land to the managers. Thus, even if the alleged scheme was proved, the disposition under which the defendants received the property was not flawed and they could keep the property. I send an e-mail to counsel saying I want to hear argument on whether and how it can be distinguished, and if not, whether there is any point having a trial, and carry on reading.


First day of the trial. The claimant’s counsel opens the case, showing me the key documents, why he says the defendants are liable and trailing some of his intended cross-examination – there is some excitement because one of the defendants is Rt Hon David Mellor, the former Cabinet Minister. Counsel then seeks to distinguish Brown v Bennett but fails to persuade me that it is any different. After hearing argument all day, I deliver an oral judgment saying the case is indistinguishable and dismiss the claim on the basis that there is no point in hearing 3 weeks of evidence if the claim is bound to fail. This is not, I might add, how trials usually go.

In the evening to the London Law Club where academic lawyers from the London School of Economics and judges meet to hear a talk (tonight on the exercise of contractual discretions) and then have a dinner. I like the way academics think about the law – quite different from the way we do: we are always having to deal with the facts of a particular case, and academics have a little more space to think about the underlying principles.


The parties come back at midday. I am expecting them to deal with the fallout of the premature end to the trial: permission to appeal, costs, discharge of an injunction etc. Instead, counsel for the claimant asks me to reconsider and withdraw my judgment on the basis I got it wrong. There is jurisdiction to do this as no order has yet been sealed, but naturally it is a difficult application to make. He does however argue the point rather more vigorously than yesterday. I will let them know the answer at 10.30 am on Monday, so they will spend the weekend not knowing if there will be a trial after all, and I will spend it considering if I did get, or might have got, it wrong.


My wife and I are spending a day away – it is scarcely a weekend away as she has to be back in London first thing on Sunday – and I snatch the odd moment to revise the transcript of the judgment I gave on Thursday. Oral judgments are transcribed but never come out perfect; things such as quotations from pleadings and judgments always have to be checked.


Back in London and I start drafting what I will say tomorrow when the trial (or non-trial) resumes.


Hilary Term 19 February - 25 February Week 6

Qi-Lin Moores (3rd year) 

Monday: I went to a two hour land law lecture today at 9am, during which we covered mortgages. This was good, because the closest I'd come to understanding mortgages before coming to university was paying off my loan to Tom Nook in Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS.

Tuesday: I spent the day revising Contract Law, which again is interesting. Rules that were created hundreds of years ago still have some say in the cases going through the courts today. Pretty cool! Then again, unless the rules were wrong, or that society has changed (for example, do we think about legally enforceable promises differently now?), why shouldn’t the rules stay the same?

Wednesday: I attended a pilot event hosted by the university called “Law and Technology”. This was a day of lectures looking at the relationship between these two things. We looked at how a new EU regulation (GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation) coming into force in May means companies must have better reasons for processing your personal data.

It was interesting discussing these changes with computer science students, who I usually never cross paths with (Corpus teaches almost all subjects, but not Computer Sciences!). The CS students generally seemed annoyed that the law was, in their view, inhibiting innovation – the new regulations could make it harder for companies to analyse data and improve or create products. Of course, others might think any product is less important than everyone’s privacy. Something you learn throughout your Law degree is that the Law is not necessarily perfect; there's always a balance to be struck somewhere, and sometimes you might feel it gets this wrong.

Thursday: Today, I did some more Contract revision, and attended a “recent cases” lecture which went over recent changes to the law, since we studied it in summer 2016. The law is always changing, so there's always stuff to catch up with!

Friday: Friday was pretty much the same as Thursday, except my friend from home visited, so during the afternoon we went shopping at Westgate, the new shopping centre in Oxford, and tried all the free tea samples at the T2 store.

Saturday: I went library-hopping with my friend, and did some Medical Law revision. I worked on Advance Directives, which are super interesting – they're basically orders to doctors saying that, under certain conditions, they must not treat you in the future. The main difficulty in essence is (to me) trying to work out whether our future selves are the same person as our past/present selves. Does it make us more powerful to be able to write an order that says “in 10 years’ time, don’t treat me”, or does it put our “future” selves at the mercy of our “past” selves and thus make us weaker, overall?

Sunday: I went to the cinema with a friend who goes to Lady Margaret Hall (another Oxford college), who studies History. Sometimes it's really good to talk to someone who doesn't do your subject, because then there's no chance of you freaking out over who has done more reading for the next impending essay. But how do you meet people outside of college, who don't do your subject? Quite easily! There are plenty of societies which span all colleges and subjects, at which you can meet people you wouldn't bump into at lectures or tutorials. In my first year, I met many people through volunteering initiatives (such as LinkAges, which aims to tackle elderly social isolation by strengthening ties between the elderly community and the student community in Oxford), and societies such as Tea Soc, where you literally just go and sip tea and chat to people. As a side note, the new cinema that's opened up in Westgate does movies for £5 for students! Would 100% recommend (obviously not for the purposes of chatting while the movie is on)!


This week’s entry was written by Sir Wyn Williams, an alumnus of the College, who was a barrister before serving first as a Judge in Wales from 2004, and then as a High Court Judge from 2007 to 2017.

Hilary Term 12 February - 18 February Week 5 


The day started gently. I was handing down a judgment in the Divisional Court about whether the court should allow an appeal made by a British citizen against his extradition to Portugal to serve a sentence of imprisonment for fraud. The issue was whether the conditions of detention at a particular prison in Portugal (where the Appellant would serve his sentence) were such that there was a real risk that the Appellant would be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 3 ECHR. Sir Jack Beatson (a Court of Appeal judge) and I concluded that there was a real risk of a breach of Article 3 and allowed the appeal. It was a difficult and finely balanced decision and I am sure there are judges who might have taken a different view!

The remainder of Monday was taken up with reading for cases to be heard in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) on Wednesday and Thursday – as to which see below.


More reading for Wednesday and Thursday during the morning and early afternoon. Then to Corpus to judge the “Make Your Case Night”. What an evening we all had! The undergrads pitted their advocacy skills against a formidable team of dons and a visiting Dutch researcher, each attempting to argue that the case he or she had picked was the most interesting. Everyone produced very interesting cases. We went as far back in time as the 16th, or was it 17th, century. It was claimed that the famous “snail in a ginger beer bottle” case of Donoghue v Stevenson, thought to be the start of the modern law, actually came about 100 years after the real revolution began in relation to the law of negligence. Judges, so I was told, were inherently biased when it came to deciding cases involving trade unions – at least at the turn of the 20th century. In between we had formidable arguments about criminal cases, mental capacity cases, medical law cases and property law cases. One brave undergraduate even tried to interest me in “mere puffs” a lawyer’s term of art of when a salesman is blowing hot air and not really guaranteeing something wonderful. As I explained on the night, the law of contract and I are not soul mates! It was all topped off with Matt’s attempt to persuade us that he should be a candidate on the “great British Bake Off” with the quality of his pancakes. I am very fond of my old College and this evening was, for me, as enjoyable an event as I have had as an old boy. I was asked by a group of young women to tell them what I thought was the greatest change since my departure from Corpus in 1973. The answer was easy – their presence. I think they were genuinely surprised that co-education had arrived so late in the 20th century. Now there were more women than men in the room, and they came from all over the UK and the world; within the UK students many were from a Grammar school like me and a number were even the first from their schools to go to Oxford.

Wednesday and Thursday

I sat in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division with Dame Heather Hallet and Sir Colman Treacy. We had before us 4 cases where judges in the Crown court had imposed indeterminate prison sentences for very serious criminal offences (manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, attempted murder and making threats to kill). The point in each case was whether the judge should have imposed a hospital order because the offenders suffered from mental illness. These cases are profoundly difficult. As I write this diary we are still debating the formulation of the correct principles and we are locked in debate about how at the individual cases should be determined. We are not helped in our attempt to formulate principles by the fact that there was a case in 2015, R v Vowles, (presided over by the then Lord Chief Justice) where the court formulated some principles which have provoked considerable discussion in judicial, legal and medical circles and about which there may have been some disagreement in later cases. How should we approach the issue of precedence? Although I am sitting with two very senior judges from the Court of Appeal, I have considerable experience of these sort of cases as a trial judge so at least they are prepared to listen to me!  


In the morning I drafted parts of the judgment for the cases we heard on Thursday. I then drove down the M4 to spend the weekend in Wales. As I drove along I let my mind ponder what constitutes “a major infrastructure project” within some environmental regulations. That is my next judgment. I will have to produce a compelling analysis or I will be ticked off by Liz! I sometimes wonder whether I really did retire as a High Court Judge a year ago...

Hilary Term 5 February - 11 February Week 4 

Yeap Yee Sing

As each week goes by, I feel myself growing more comfortable, both as a law student, and as part of the college community. This week was no different.

I dived headfirst into the week with a Constitutional Law tutorial on Monday morning. This subject is the most challenging for me so far, but what fascinates me about it is how each issue has so many different facets to it, and links closely to so many other issues in the subject. For instance, this week, we discussed how Parliament’s supremacy in making law can be reconciled with the authority of other entities such as the courts, the devolved bodies, and the European Union. We also looked at how differing views on Parliamentary supremacy itself incorporate elements such as democracy and balance of powers.

That afternoon, I headed to a primary school at East Oxford, where I volunteer in a reading programme as part of Schools Plus. This gives me purpose and helps me stay connected to the city. It’s also a welcome break; as much as I enjoy life in University, I cherish these moments where I can be a little sillier, role-play singing gingerbread men, and help encourage children to learn to love reading as much as I do. As the usual lecture was postponed, I had extra time to plan activities for my reading sessions and to begin preparing for my Criminal Law tutorial this Thursday.

Tuesday was spent working on Criminal Law. This tutorial involves examining general defences in criminal cases, such as self-defence, duress, and necessity. Some intriguing issues that arose were whether duress could justify the deliberate killing of an innocent person, and how different defences may sometimes overlap. I also nipped to the Corpus Christi library book sale, where books no longer needed by the library could find new homes. Among others, I managed to snag a book on feminist literary theory and a 1926 copy of Plato’s Republic!

I woke up on Wednesday feeling unwell, so I decided to work in my room. I also received notification that I was to re-sit a Collection paper next week, and so I set to work scheduling study time. Collections resemble mock examinations, and are taken at the start of term. This time, I didn’t quite make the mark for Constitutional Law, and so am trying it again so as to practice my exam technique before the upcoming Moderations (the first year exams in law) in Week 9. Planning my time helps me deal with uncertainty, and calling my best friend boosted my morale as well.

Thursday was when I had my Criminal Law tutorial, which I share with two partners from St. Hugh’s College. It’s always a lively affair: this time, a foam sword was used to illustrate legal difficulties in the defence of necessity. Afterwards, I headed to the Sheldonian Theatre, where a friend was performing with the Oxford University Orchestra. I was treated to invigorating renditions of Ravel’s La Valse and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

Friday was occupied with revision for my Collection, a Criminal Law lecture on the tutorial topic, as well as a workshop on sleep and stress by Student Minds, which gave useful advice on maximising quality of rest.

I continued revising this weekend, with a little surprise on Sunday when a friend knocked on my door with ingredients for microwave brownies, which we made and promptly demolished while watching the snow fall. I’m glad to be here.


Hilary Term 29 January - 4 February Week 3 

Bjoern Brauer ((BCL/MJur Masters in Law graduate student) 

My week started early on Monday morning at around 5:50am, when I had to get up for a training session with the Corpus Christi College Boat Club. Before coming to Oxford, I had never rowed before, so I was keen to try it out and I have really enjoyed it ever since starting. We are a crew of eight and usually row for around an hour and a half before heading back to college for breakfast, which adds a nice social aspect to an intensive morning workout.

After a few hours in the library, I was heading to a seminar on principles of financial regulation. We were discussing what goals financial regulation should have and whether we should prioritise between them. The course is convened by an economist, so we are expected to take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on economic theories in our analysis. As a lawyer by training, this means I have to do quite a lot of extra reading on economic theory to prepare, but I believe analysing the law from an economical perspective is particularly important when we are thinking about regulating financial markets.

Tuesday began early with a rowing session again. The rest of the day was spent in the library and attending a lecture and seminar on legal concepts in financial law. In this subject, we are looking at the law of certain financial instruments, such as derivatives and guarantees. We focus predominantly on UK law, which, coming from Germany, provides the opportunity to learn more about the jurisdiction I am currently living in. This week, the course convenor invited a leading practitioner from a London-based law firm as an expert on floating charges and I found it interesting to learn how the legal theory translates into the daily work of companies and lawyers.

I did not have any tutorials this week, but I have a few scheduled during Hilary term. For these, I will have to write essays, which form a large part of my studies in Oxford and will be the form in which my final exams are assessed. I have found this challenging, since the legal education in Germany is not as focused on essays. I was excited therefore to find out that the faculty offered training courses on essay writing on Wednesday, where two faculty professors gave us advice on how to improve our skills by showing us past exam questions and possible ways to approach them.

I spent most of Thursday in the library and went to a birthday party in the evening. Although the BCL/MJur requires quite a bit of work, I am usually able to find time to meet friends from my course and from college.

My week ended as it started: with rowing. I had a training session on Saturday morning and a race on Sunday at noon. Staying fit is a great joy for me, giving me the energy to face the academic challenges demanded by my time here at Corpus. 

This entry is from Bjoern Brauer, a graduate law student. After a qualifying undergraduate law degree, you can do further studies in law. The first stage is usually a Master's degree, which in Oxford is called the Bachelor of Civil Law (for those from a common law background, like England) or Magister Juris (for those from non-common law legal systems, like Germany and France). The course lasts a year and is structured differently to the undergraduate course in Oxford, but still features a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Hilary Term 22 January - 28 January Week 2 

Ana Larasati (2nd Year) 

Settling into the second term of my second year in university, it’s a bit of a shock to think that in two weeks time, I’ll be halfway through my degree in Oxford.

I’ve now been fully introduced to this term’s topics of Jurisprudence and Equity & Trusts, both infamously complex yet equally fascinating. This week is one with a slightly lighter academic workload as I only have one tutorial, on Equity Law at Magdalen College, which usually means I get some extra time to read for the next Jurisprudence tutorial at Wadham College next week.

However, the majority of Monday and Tuesday was spent in London interviewing for summer internships at law firms (called vacation schemes in law). As a second year lawyer, exploring my career options has become another workload to juggle this term. Applications are stressful and time consuming but an inevitable part of pursuing the kind of career I want in the future and very much worth it. The train rides to and from the city and brief stints studying in coffee shops in between were just as stressful as the interviews themselves; trying to study in such a stop-start, haphazard way is definitely a skill of its own. But that’s a part of the university experience I’ve really enjoyed - having to develop and embrace new challenges and surprising yourself with how well you can manage your time when you actually need to.

The next two days were all about equity. This week’s work was centred on charitable purpose trusts and it’s bizarre to realise that I have now begun to understand the law behind tax havens and tax avoidance methods, something that must’ve seemed so grown up and complex before university (and even as a first year lawyer). That’s not to say that the topic is easy, but supposedly in comparison to the rest of equity it is one of the more simple parts of the law we’ll study this term and it was odd to see how simultaneously broad and narrow the definition of a “charity” could be in the eyes of the law.

I managed to catch a break by going out with friends on Wednesday evening and also had enough time to begin reading for jurisprudence in between writing my equity essay. Even though I’ve only had one tutorial on jurisprudence so far, I find it incredibly interesting and enjoyed analysing the connection between law and morality, a topic which I first became interested in while still at school.

On Thursday evening, I helped organise a presentation in college on the ongoing political and human rights crisis in Venezuela as part of Oxford Lawyers Without Borders. This was a truly insightful and humbling presentation as we heard from academic experts as well as a political activist I knew, who provided first hand experiences of the violent and unsettling situation there.

Before I knew it, Friday had arrived and it was my turn to read my essay out loud during the tutorial. This seems like a pretty strange structure for a tutorial (and is perhaps more of a traditional and rarer approach to tutorials in Oxford, which now vary in structure hugely) but it does help to strengthen our analysis by forcing us to defend our opinions against a tutor with vastly greater expertise compared to us. Thankfully that went on without too many hitches and I escaped relatively unscathed!

Hilary Term 15 January - 21 January Week 1

Bethanne Jones (1st Year) 

The start of Week 1 of Hilary term marked the end of my first set of collections (the exams you have to do at the start of every term in Oxford); so, having prepared for our first criminal tutorial on inchoate offences in the vacation, last weekend was a nice, steady start to the term, spent catching up with friends, a cinema trip and refreshing my mind on the notes I had made for this week’s criminal law tutorial.

“Inchoate” in English criminal law refers to those situations where either a defendant has taken steps towards committing a crime themselves, or they have encouraged or assisted another person to commit a crime. As is to be imagined, working out where the line should draw the line between criminalising such acts (so as to act as deterrent and prevent the commission of crimes) and over-criminalisation (since the crime has not yet been committed) was challenging.  The case law was however fascinating and one tutorial later, I’m confident that I understand the more complex concepts which I had originally found difficult with. The bulk of my reading between Monday and Thursday related to the Roman law of contracts. I’ve grown to really enjoy Roman law despite my initial apprehension surrounding the module and, though I still find it tricky (and impending Roman law essay deadlines still call for ice cream deliveries with one of my best friends- also a lawyer), my confidence in the subject grows by the day.

As well as my tutorial, I had five two-hour-long lectures this week and, as such, it hasn’t taken me long to get back into the swing of things here and to fall into a slightly different routine to Michaelmas term. I was especially looking forward to a constitutional law lecture with Professor Barber about parliamentary sovereignty this week; I loved constitutional law last term and, having read multiple articles written by Barber over the course of my first four tutorials, I was excited to hear Barber’s arguments and thoughts on the topic, in particular surrounding the impact of the European Union on parliamentary sovereignty. The lecture wholly lived up to my expectations and two hours passed by in no time at all!

I arrived back to Oxford slightly earlier than most, to start training again for rowing. Not being in a novice crew any longer, the commitments have upped somewhat and this week saw me out on the water four times (two of which took place on the Saturday morning, making the brunch in hall afterwards a necessity!), along with three land training sessions. So, two weeks after arriving back, my crew was in good shape for the Isis Winter League time trials today (a competition run throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Term) ­–­ it was such good fun and a great way to start the upcoming week!

There’s so much going on in Corpus and in the wider Oxford community- this week I signed up for Corpus Challenge (a sporting contest with our rival college, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) and for access volunteer training (Corpus is linked to some schools near where I live in Manchester, and I’m really pleased that I’ll have the opportunity to help to reach out to more potential Oxford applicants from this area). A lot of the freshers signed up for formal hall this Friday, so that, followed by an evening in the college beer cellar, ended the week and started the weekend perfectly. Even having been back for only two weeks, it feels like I never left!

I feel unbelievably lucky to be living and studying in Oxford- something I worked so hard for, and for so long. The hard work by no means discontinues in Oxford, but the incredible friends I’ve made here, the course which I am loving every second of, and all of the fun I’m having outside of work makes all of the hard work worthwhile. I’m so excited to see what this term brings.

Hilary Term 8 January - 14 January Week 0

Nick Read (Head Porter)

The Early Development of a Corpuscle within the Corpus Environment.

From the Porters’ Lodge, we get to see students, Fellows, staff, visitors, conference attendees and just about everyone else besides every day. We witness quite a lot, take part in a bit, and (sometimes regrettably) remember almost all of it. We can tell you quite a bit about the lifecycle of the student at Corpus, the corpuscle…

Potential corpuscles are spawned nationwide, indeed, worldwide, where they grow and develop, until the period of selection culminating in what are known as ‘interviews’ takes place. Then, some go to this particular niche, and others into the lanes and meadows of academia elsewhere. Those coming here have an arduous but rewarding set of challenges to face, before their ‘pass standard’ has been confirmed and are set loose upon the wider world.

When they arrive within the sanctuary of the Corpus domain in Michaelmas term as a ‘fresher’, they enter what could be called the chrysalis period. They arrive confused and expectant, and have a sense of having to catch up, both with their friends elsewhere (who typically started a few weeks before) and with each other (as everyone is better than someone at something and they are too young to know that comparisons like that lead nowhere).

At this point, each fresher-chrysalis carries within the burden of routine and regulation from an earlier life. They might have been educated in a state institution, or a private one, in a cold climate, a slightly less cold one and slightly less wet one, or they might be from abroad. They all find that they must shed themselves of these ways of living, and try to find what they will be here, for the next three or more years. The average fresher is polite to all in their urgent efforts to obtain the routine they desire, totally unaware that this routine is unavailable during the period of 0th week. The Lodge and the college parent do their best to reassure the fresher that it will come in 1st week. Reassuring them is made a little more difficult when confusion also reigns as they discover a new language has to be learnt, words such as ‘battels’ (College bill), ‘Scout’ (College cleaning staff) and ‘matriculation’ (traditional ceremony for joining the University as a student) have to become part of daily life very quickly indeed. Combine this with the change in their feeding habits, ‘the ability to eat elsewhere’ in conjunction with ‘high table dinner’ can create confusion and disharmony in many areas.

Week 1 begins and each little chrysalis is still yearning for the routine that will help the place feel more manageable. The College always manages to maintain an air of mystery and thrill, but most freshers aim for just slightly less ‘other’, and having regular habits will help with that. They sometimes take a little longer to develop a smidge more self-discipline, but discipline is something Porters are long used to encouraging and we’re there to help (as is the College Dean of course…). But well before Week 8 of Michaelmas term, they have found firm footing, and it tends to get firmer as times goes on.

As the fresher-chrysalis becomes more self-assured they begin to appreciate the new boundaries of their life. Porters initially referred to as ‘Sir’ (or ‘Ma’am’) are now on first name terms, the college parent wistfully thinks of how much the fresher has grown in so short a time, and yes, the freshers have learnt where and when to eat. In short, the chrysalis has undertaken its own gestation period before taking flight. This process of change is not a fixed period, some fly earlier than others, however the majority have found their wings by now and the corpuscle’s current form is established, and is hopefully flourishing within their environment. It’s just in time to head home for Christmas.

Hilary term begins and the corpuscle flies back into its sanctuary more confident and usually keen to get going again. The mock exams (‘Collections’) are a small hurdle at the end of 0th week, but after them, and perhaps a celebratory party or two, they are ready for a new term. We in the Lodge are rather happy to see them, to file their post, hold onto their parcels, deal with lost keys and lost fobs, do fire drills and commiserate on punctured bike tyres, broken hearts and essay marks. We’re still there to help get their ‘sub fusc’ (academic dress) quite right for the parents to take photos on the day of graduation. Unfortunately, the biological parents of the corpuscle are still unsure and confused as to parking, the start of term and the phrase ‘Vac-Res’ (residence in College even in the Vacation), but even they eventually catch up!


Hilary Term 1 January - 7 January -1 Week

Gayatri Sarathy (Corpus Christi Alumnus) 

My Hilary term as a pupil barrister at a public and commercial Chambers began in much the same way as when I was an undergraduate at Corpus (the term’s name in the legal year is comfortingly the same name as in Oxford). As an Australian, this means travelling back to the UK on a long-haul flight – albeit now without the journey being filled with frantic last-minute preparation for exams in the start of term ‘Collections’!  I landed on New Year’s Day and London was relatively quiet from the night before…  

Prior to the Bar and after leaving Corpus, I completed the BCL at St Hugh’s (just down the road) and took up a position as a Research Assistant in the public law team at the Law Commission. The next year was the BPTC, a year-long course which allows law graduates to practise as barristers. I’m now very excited to be at the bar!

As a pupil barrister, your rhythm of work depends to a large extent on that of your supervisor’s. My supervisor was not returning until later in the week so Tuesday provided an opportunity for me to pick up and get a head start on the materials for an advocacy training weekend later in the month at Highgate House provided by my Inn, Lincoln’s Inn. These weekends punctuate the pupillage year and give a chance to meet your peers and sharpen your skills. 

The upcoming course will focus on witness handling, exam-in-chief and cross-examination, a barrister’s stock-in-trade. Preparing questions for a bus driver said to be negligent and a boyfriend who had allegedly threatened to kill his girlfriend brought back memories of considering problem questions for my tort and criminal law tutorials while at Corpus, albeit now with the extra (and sometimes unpredictable) dimension of soliciting information from a witness. There was also a skeleton argument to prepare for a (fictional) interim injunction to restrain horses trespassing over an airfield, a potentially comedic scene.  

Wednesday was my first day back in Chambers. This generated the same sense of anticipation that returning to Oxford used to. I spent the day working on an opinion for my supervisor on the application of copyright law to fonts, an entirely new area of law to me. Rapidly getting to grips with unfamiliar areas of law represents both a typical and exciting challenge for pupil barristers.  On this occasion, it involved researching Hansard to work out the purpose of the legislation, given potentially ambiguous wording of the statute and the limited number of cases concerning typefaces which have been decided.  

On Thursday and Friday, I worked on a skeleton argument for a case to be heard in the Institute of Chartered Accountant’s Disciplinary Tribunal. The case has required me to assimilate various accounting principles, such as financial reporting standards and the UK General Accepted Accounting Principles.  In practice, law is interconnected with other practices – as Prof Liz Fisher always used to say, lawyers are often required to be interdisciplinarians. My supervisor having returned to Chambers, I also sat in on calls on some of the other matters that he was handling: a tax case and a piece of litigation concerning ownership of electricity lines off the North Wales coast.

After a busy first week back, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Cressida Auckland, the graduate teaching assistant at Corpus and author of the previous law diary, at the birthday party of my old administrative law tutorial partner. Reminiscing about good times in College – and hearing the latest – provided a lovely end to my first week back!              

Michaelmas Term 4 December - 10 December Admissions Week

Cressida Auckland (Graduate Teaching Assistant)

Ninth week of Michaelmas Term is an important week in Oxford. Teaching is over and almost all the undergraduates have gone home for Christmas, but the slightly muted buzz is quickly replaced with the excitement and anticipation of hundreds of applicants who have arrived in Oxford for admissions interviews.

 Admissions week is an exciting, but very busy time of the term for tutors. The early part of my week was mainly spent finalising arrangements for the interviews with the other tutors and making the final tweaks to the materials we plan to use for the interview, to ensure that everything will be running smoothly for when they begin on Wednesday. This was followed by refreshing myself with the details of all of the applicants who have been selected for interview. The tutors will have already looked at their applications when deciding who to invite for interview (one of the toughest parts of the process, given how many students have an amazing set of results and a great deal of promise), but I like to have another read through their application just before the interviews, so that it is fresh in my mind when we meet them.

 On Wednesday morning, the interview process commenced. Every college will organise their interviews slightly differently. In Corpus, we began the day with a meeting with all of the candidates. We use this as a chance to talk through the arrangements for interviews and discuss what the interviews are going to entail. I also gave the candidates some tips on the kinds of things to expect, and what to try to do in the interview (or what not be afraid to do!). This can be helpful, especially as some applicants haven’t had much previous guidance on how the process works and what kinds of things we are looking for. The initial meeting is also a good chance to make sure they have met us before the interview (so there isn’t quite the same air of mystery about will be waiting for them on the other side of the door), and offers them a chance for them to ask any questions they have about the process. As the bulk of the interview in Corpus was on material that we provided half an hour before, there wasn’t much that any of them could do on the day to prepare for the interviews, which meant that in between interviews, they had plenty of time to explore Oxford and get to see the city a bit– albeit in pretty artic conditions.

 After the meeting, we started the interviewing process. For this we split into two interviewing teams – in our case, I was interviewing with Dr Matt Dyson, and Professor Liz Fisher was interviewing with Elbert de Jong (a research associate at Corpus, and associate professor in the Netherlands). Each team will always see all of the candidates over the two days.

 Different colleges will have different interviews. In Corpus, we give the applicants some materials to read and think about for a bit before the interview, and the bulk of the interview is then taken up by asking them about this. The applicants aren’t expected to have any prior knowledge of law for this (and given the obscurity of the problems, a background in law won’t be an advantage). Instead we are interested in understanding how the applicant thinks about the material, whether they can identify the key points, and how they understand and responds to the arguments presented in it. Interviewing takes place over two days. For us, it is a hugely exciting process, as we get the chance to meet so many talented students. Our only regret is that there aren’t enough places for everyone, and so at the end of this we will have to make a decision, based not only on the interview, but importantly on the students’ UCAS forms and LNAT scores. As the process comes to an end, it is sad for us to have to let some fantastic candidates go, but also exciting to know that we have now met the students which in the future, we will have the pleasure of teaching for three years.

 With interviewing over, I had one final Medical Law tutorial to give on Friday before the Christmas holidays could officially begin (a student, through no fault of their own, had been unable to attend during the term). I now have a month until Hilary term begins to get on with my research and teaching preparation. First however, I am enjoying a few much-needed days off after a very busy term, to enjoy the festivities and start getting ready for Christmas! 


Michaelmas Term 28 November - 3 December Week 8.

Jennifer Chen (3rd year student)

Week 8 of Michaelmas Term is busy, as usual. Although the tutorials and essays have started to finish up, there is a plethora of end-of-term rituals and meetings to attend.

My week started off with a Presidential Collection – a yearly occurrence for every student at Corpus which involves a short meeting with the President of the College, the Senior Tutor and one’s personal tutor (who in my case is Prof Liz Fisher) to discuss one’s academic progress. After this, I met with the incoming President of Oxford University Travel Society (OUTS) to help him learn more about the society and teach him about the role – as the current President of OUTS, this is one of my responsibilities.

Most of Tuesday was occupied with reading for an essay due on Wednesday. That evening, I went to Corpus Christmas Formal Hall – an annual Oxford tradition, and something I always look forward to as a way of celebrating the end of Michaelmas term. Wednesday was taken up with writing the essay for my Moral and Political Philosophy (MPP) elective, one of the two elective subjects we choose to undertake in our final year. The essay was on the topic of Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy and whether it alienates us from our humanity by demanding that we give up our projects and personal relationships in order to do what is morally right. I found the readings for this topic more difficult and obscure than usual, but nevertheless I am thoroughly enjoying the MPP elective, as it brings to light fundamental questions and debates about how we make moral decisions.

The next day I attended the tutorial on this topic, which, again, I found quite memorable. MPP is one of those subjects in which just knowing what you’ve read isn’t enough in the tutorial – our tutor was throwing questions at us that required us to really think beyond the readings, to come up with our own conclusions and to reason through unexpected problems. After this, I attended an OUTS committee meeting, where we discussed different options of destinations for our upcoming annual international trip in the Easter Vacation. With this done, I was thoroughly worn out for the day, but my spirits were quickly lifted again as I ended the day with a ‘secret Santa’ gift exchange with a few friends.

 Friday, the last day of term, started off with a report-reading meeting with Prof Fisher. I then went out for lunch with friends at Cosmos to celebrate having survived another term. In the evening, I attended the annual Christmas law party in the office of Dr Matt Dyson, which involved food and drink as well as a variety of law-related games. Initially, I had signed up to clerk at a moot (mock court case) at St Hugh’s College on that evening, which would have meant I would miss the first hour of the party, but fortunately the moot had to be rescheduled due to one of the mooters being unable to participate last minute. After this, I went home to pack, in preparation for my flight home to Sydney on Sunday evening!


 Michaelmas Term 20 November - 27 November 2017 Week 7. 

Dr Steven Vaughan (Corpus Christi Alumnus) 

It’s Monday morning, just before 8am, and I’ve arrived into the office, a tub of porridge in one hand, mixed netball kit for later tonight in the other. Today is a mix of prepping for a Journal of Environmental Law (JEL) workshop on Wednesday in Cardiff (where I am Chairing a panel titled, ‘What is 'Socio-legal' Research?’), getting ready for the first Environmental Law Book Club we’re running tonight for students and staff (we read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ – spoiler alert: I didn’t like it), and working on a book on in-house lawyers that I am writing with my colleague Richard Moorhead. The book is now very late with the publishers (which can be common among academics…) and needs to be put to bed.  

The Book Club goes really well: me, my colleague Professor Maria Lee, and 14 students (a mix of undergrads and grad students). I’ve never done a book club before, but read online this morning that wine and book clubs should not mix. We had wine. The world did not end. Tuesday, I have a class with the LLB students taking the ‘Lawyers, Practice and Ethics’ module. We’re looking at the regulation of legal education and asking what a law degree is for: as Twining frames it, are law schools in the business of producing Pericles (the wise judge; the enlightened policy maker) or plumbers (the specialised technician)? My own sense is that both can be useful, but that some law schools fail to really engage with what they stand for: why they do what they do in the way that they do it. I run from my class to Paddington and grab a sandwich to have on the train to Wales. And a chocolate bar. And maybe some crisps.

Wednesday is Cardiff, first for the JEL Editorial Board Meeting and then the workshop. In a somewhat ‘circle of life’ moment, having been taught by Liz Fisher as an undergrad I now find myself an environmental law academic. Both the workshop and the Board Meeting are great and I leave Cardiff for London having been inspired.

Thursday I have ‘Recruitment Training’ (so I can sit on selection panels for new jobs) and a meeting with a couple of colleagues to plan a LGBT+ staff/student/alum event. As a gay guy from a working class background who researches diversity in the profession, these sorts of events are really important to me. Thursday evening, I was meant to sit on a panel in the City talking to students about how it was to work in a US law firm (as I spent 6 years (some full time, some part time) at Latham & Watkins before moving into full time academia). Instead, I head home from work feeling poorly and have an early night.

Friday I have a coffee with the leader of qUCL, a university-wide initiative that brings together UCL staff and students with research and/or teaching interests in LGBT+ studies. And then it’s a two hour Environmental Law seminar with the 32 undergrad students taking my class. This week we’re looking at contaminated land (one of my favourites) and we also discuss their ‘Cohort Choice’ ideas. Next term, the students get to choose the topics and readings for two of their seminars. As a field, environmental law is vast and I like to give the students some agency in what they study. Once the class finishes, I dash to Euston and just make my train home to Lichfield. I’m knackered, but contented. It’s been a good week. 

Michaelmas Term 13 November - 19 November 2017 Week 6. 

Marcus Hillier (1st year student) 

Being six weeks through my first term as an Oxford law student, I can safely say that the intrinsic level of interest for what I’m studying – as well as the pace at which it’s delivered – is yet to subside. 

This week was, accordingly, no exception. Monday morning means that I’m due for a constitutional law tutorial with two other first-years – the discussion this time concerns a pretty fascinating analysis of multi-layered government within the UK. The other students and I compare our notes, and our tutor clears up any difficulties we’ve been having with the material this past week – in particular some queries I had regarding a concept called ‘consocialisation’ (a type of democracy that some countries employ) and how the principle of ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’ (that the Westminster Parliament is supreme) operates in the context of increased regional devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. After this is concluded and I’ve reviewed my essay feedback comments, I can turn to my next tasks.

Criminal law is my main focus this time around, with the topics for this week concerning ‘non-lethal offences against the person’ and sexual offences (such as rape or sexual assault). Although the subject matter can at times become rather complex (especially when discussing very fine points of law), because the material is by its very nature personal and controversial, it makes for some powerful reading.

Meanwhile, on both Tuesday and Wednesday, we have our weekly lectures organised by the law faculty, this week focusing on the area of ‘complicity’ for criminal law (where there is an accomplice in a criminal act), and for our Roman law lectures, on ideas surrounding possession and ownership of property (an area I do not shy away from proclaiming to be the most fascinating we’ve covered so far).

Thursday is somewhat aberrant for me this week as, though I’d usually have a morning tutorial, a clash of timings has meant that it’s been moved back by several days. This lends me some time to get ahead with some other work instead, though. That evening, I’m convinced by some friends to come along to the Oxford Union to watch two separate speeches by Monika Lewinsky and Robert Peston; the talks themselves being rather stellar, and the pizza served in the Union restaurant afterwards – even more so! There also happens to be a college short-play being performed that evening as part of the University’s annual ‘cuppers’ competition (an occasion for Fresher drama society students to flaunt their acting talent); and I have to say our college may have some future stage-stars among our ranks. Speeches and plays aside, though: it’s time for an early-night.

But rest assured: things return to their usual pace at 5AM the next-morning when I’m due for a morning rowing-session on the river with seven other fresher students. Unfortunately, it’s pretty darn cold on the water (ice has finally started appearing on our oars); and I only really start to feel awake once I’ve been *accidentally* splashed several times by the crew-mate in the seat in front of me. Nevertheless, it’s a good outing and it looks as though the crew is making some decent progress in preparation for some races next week at the Christ Church Regatta that we’re competing in. 

Later in the day, I manage to finish the majority of my weekly readings and begin compartmentalising some ideas for my essay due on Sunday.

The weekend seems to bring with it an opportunity to consolidate all the work I’ve done these past few days, as well as a chance to meet up with the college ‘TV Squad’ (just a name that stuck) and relax a little. In the evenings we decide to venture out to an Italian restaurant and gorge on some well-earned pizza before heading-back to the Corpus common room for a movie night. By Sunday morning all of my tutorial work is printed off and all I can think of for the rest of the day is what other bits and pieces of the topic are going to be explored in the tutorial tomorrow.

For me, the adventure of studying law so far at Corpus has been a special brand of delight; I’m constantly in awe of both the material I have the privilege to explore, as well as the friends I’ve found along the way. It makes me happy to know that a place like this exists.


 Michaelmas Term 6 November - 12 November 2017 Week 5. 

Jack Beadsworth (3rd year student) 

As the excitement of starting the term dissipates, the work builds up, and the end of term parties are just slightly too far away to get excited about, fifth week is often characterised by the phenomena of “fifth week blues” – the feeling of missing home due to all work and no play. Fortunately, there have been no such ‘blues’ for myself (though Corpus does provide a lot of welfare assistance to those who do feel a bit overwhelmed).

The week’s work has been on three topics: the direct effect of European Union law (which concerns whether private individuals in the UK can claim others had breached their rights under EU, as opposed to domestic law); precarious work in labour law (legal protections for non-standard types of employment), and human rights in a multi-layered constitution: all very topical issues given Brexit, the recent Uber case, and ongoing concerns about the Tories’ (idiotic) plan to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Monday was spent largely working in my room on the EU law reading list, followed in the evening by some games of Fifa ’18 and a few games of pool in preparation for a match on Wednesday.

My first tutorial on Tuesday involved working through essay questions which examined and appraised the scope of protection for employees under the traditional common law. Though I prefer discussion of the issues rather than essay planning in tutorials, my tutor did provide a detailed analysis on how to break down long questions and plan answers quickly which will aid me in my final exams.

In the evening I went to the pub with a friend to relax. Oxford has some wonderful pubs, though the prices are criminal!

On Wednesday Corpus had a pool game against Magdalen. I won both of my frames, and the team won 6-3 to leave us top of Division 2. More success followed on Thursday with victory in the pub quiz, despite some dubious behaviour from a team of freshers on their phones!

My human rights tutorial on Friday was perhaps my most challenging of the term, though it may also be the most memorable. My tutor, perhaps slightly disappointed at our hesitancy in presenting our own ideas, gave an inspiring talk on how important it is that we are able to make decisions and develop our own opinions on each matter, because out in the real world you can’t hide behind the opinions of other academics. You have to be bold and confident in your ideas. It is sometimes easy to forget that one day, as lawyers, we are going to be involved in very troubling cases and will have to make major decisions that seriously affect people’s lives. As a finalist this reality is drawing nearer every day.

On Friday I worked a shift behind the College bar to help give my finances a much needed boost. Corpus has a really lovely Beer Cellar and is always good fun on a Friday night, even if you are standing on the wrong side of the bar!

I finished off the week going to a party to celebrate my friend’s 22nd birthday ­– an excellent way to wind down and enjoy some hard earned beers with friends after a hectic week of work.


Michaelmas Term 30 October - 5 November 2017 Week 4. Francesca (2nd year student)

It’s nearly halfway through the term and things are definitely in full swing. This term we are studying Tort law, which concerns when someone commits a civil wrong against another person, causing them to suffer some sort of loss or harm, such as if you negligently crashed your car into another’s car. This week in Tort law we are looking at trespass to land and nuisance. Monday was spent working on a challenging essay on the similarities between the tort of negligence, which concerns inadvertent damage to property (and the person), and another category of torts which affect land, such as trespass. To help one another, the second year Corpus law students met to talk through the reading and discuss what we had found difficult (and interesting) about it. The following afternoon we had the tutorial, the main part of which was taken up by discussing the purpose of the torts to land. In understanding the link to negligence, it is necessary to look at what the purpose of the individual tort is. Why do we have different types of torts if we could bring legal actions for all of these wrongs in negligence? This was something I had found difficult to understand before the tutorial, so I felt much more confident on it after discussing it in the tutorial. Around my work, I also ran a workshop on the arms trade with Amnesty Society on Monday evening, and had lunch with friend at Lincoln College on Tuesday.

As I am a rower, Wednesday started at 6am with an outing on the river. This was followed by Land law lectures on adverse possession and a class on easements, where we went through how to identify each claim in a problem question. Given the theoretical content of our tort tutorial, I enjoyed the variety that this more technical class provided.  Later, as President of Amnesty, I had a meeting with the leaders of ‘Close Campsfield’ about how we can contribute to the campaign. 

Thursday was spent in the library starting to read about mortgages for next week’s Land tutorial, then in the evening I had a social event for rowing. Despite not starting tutorial work on Trusts this term, on Friday morning I had a Trusts law lecture giving some background to the subject, which is quite common for Oxford. In the afternoon I attended a mooting workshop in preparation for ‘Cuppers’, an inter-collegiate mooting competition on criminal law, which involves acting as either the prosecution or defence in a ‘mock’ court case in front of a judge. As I study Law with French Law, I also attended a class on French law, which is a chance to speak French, and to meet with the lawyers from other colleges who will be joining me for a year abroad in France next year. We are currently looking at how to answer French exam questions in preparation for our year abroad; you get three hours to answer one question compared to 45 minutes at Oxford! In the evening, the class were taken out to dinner by Clifford Chance, a law firm.  

On Saturday I helped at the law fair as a committee member of BarSoc- a student-run society for those interested in becoming a barrister. On Sunday morning, I had brunch in college before racing in Autumn 4s regatta (a rowing competition). Corpus surpassed expectations and made it to the final! To end the week my housemates and I went to a fireworks display at Lady Margaret Hall. I am continually grateful for the opportunities at Oxford which allow me to do such a variety of things, both academically and extra-curricular.


Michaelmas Term 23-29 October 2017 Week 3. Julia (3rd year student)

Every Oxford term I find myself shocked at how quickly the time passes when I’m here. Now as a finalist, it seems to be going quicker than ever! I started off the week with an Ethics class, in which we discussed a hypothetical dilemma in which we had to choose which people should be saved first in a life-or-death situation, given a choice of different ages, jobs and other characteristics. This was quite different from the usual legal teaching I’m used to, but I found the philosophy behind it really fascinating. Straight afterwards, I had an EU law lecture on the doctrine of Direct Effect, while the rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the charity shops in Oxford, trying to find last minute items for an adaption of ‘Crime and Punishment’ that I’m on the production team for. I’ve been mainly doing the marketing for the play and all the tickets have sold out, which is really exciting!

This year, I’m studying EU law as well as getting to choose two optional subjects: Family Law and Medical Law and Ethics. I went to a Medical Law lecture on Tuesday morning about patient consent, then spent most of the rest of the day finishing off the reading and writing my essay in advance of my tutorial on the topic. I was surprised to find out how much autonomy patients actually have—including the ability to refuse treatment even if it would result in their death. My tutorial on the topic was the following morning in Exeter College. It’s always so lovely to go to other colleges—especially ones as beautiful as Exeter College—and see more of Oxford. My tutorial was really interesting: I find that I sometimes go into tutorials without a strong opinion of the law, and by the end (after various debates with the other students and questions from the tutor), I walk away with a completely different view of the reading. Later, I attended a Library Committee Meeting as a part of my role as the College JCR’s Academic Affairs Officer, then in the evening went to see a performance of the long-awaited Crime and Punishment, which was amazing.

Thursday was more of a laid-back day for me ­– a welcome break from the heavy workload earlier on in the week! On Friday morning, I had a delicious brunch with some friends at the newly opened Westgate Shopping Centre, before starting some reading for my next tutorial, which is on the supremacy of EU law. In the evening, some friends from other colleges came to Corpus for Formal Hall, and we ended the night in Balliol College Bar.

Saturday and Sunday were spent recovering from being ill, while tackling more of my reading for EU law. It’s an interesting week because I’d learnt about the EU’s place in the UK’s constitutional structure as part of Constitutional Law in my first year, so I am now learning about it again from a very different angle. My week finished with a Committee meeting for Oxford Travel Society (which I’m a part of) before spending Sunday evening at St John’s College Formal Hall. It’s been a hectic but lovely week!

Michaelmas Term 16-22 October 2017 Week 2. Rhiannon (1st year student)

Having arrived in Oxford for the first time three weeks ago, I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. Now, at the end of my second week as an Oxford student (third if you count freshers' week, but I wouldn’t…), I think I’m finally beginning to settle into a routine and find my feet in this scary new world.

My week began with a constitutional law tutorial, which notwithstanding its challenges, I found truly fascinating, particularly the discussion of bipolar sovereignty and the roles of both parliament and the judiciary within the UK constitution. Thursday marked my second tutorial of the week, this time on criminal law with Dr Dyson, whose use of toys certainly made the concepts of criminal law memorable! Alongside this I’ve also had four lectures on the subjects of Roman, Criminal and Constitutional Law, which I have found incredibly useful in helping me to understand the many different aspects of each new subject. The start of the law course has definitely been both exciting and terrifying. Having spoken to my college ‘Mum’ though (every new student is allocated ‘college parents’), an amazing second year law student, she has assured me that it will begin to make sense in time, and so I continue to work hard, and though I am probably making endless mistakes, it is all a learning curve!

I haven’t spent all my time working though ­– I think if I tried my brain would explode! Instead, I have attempted to try something different every day. On Monday that was joining a symphonic band, which was great and as the classic band pieces circulated, reminded me of home. On Tuesday I made my debut as a student ambassador for Corpus Christi and assisted in showing year 11 school students around the college. I also went to the gym… well, eventually, after getting lost more times than I care to admit trying to find Iffey Road – google maps really is a blessing! A group of us also began work on the Freshers' Drama ‘Cuppers’ Competition piece this week, a 30-minute-long improvised play. I won’t risk spoiling the end but really do wish the audience the best of luck in following the plot! Finally fully recovered from freshers’ flu, Friday then saw me back at choir, in a rehearsal for Evensong on the Sunday and for a Quincentenary Evensong in November, to mark the 500th anniversary of the College. And as the week comes to an end, I still have the excitement of Sunday’s 'Choir’s Formal Dinner' to go. After all, who isn’t excited at the prospect of free food?

I still feel completely out of my depth, but I am loving every minute of it. I’ve already made friends with some incredible people and chosen my college ‘husband’ for the next three years (a slightly strange college tradition). Oxford is a world away from home, but it is very quickly becoming a new home for me and I cannot wait to make more memories here. As for the degree, it is the greatest challenge I’ve ever embarked on, but I wouldn’t go back for anything and can’t wait to see how far I can go.

Michaelmas Term 9-15 October 2017 Week 1. James (2nd year student)

Having been given the duty of kicking off the student entries in the Corpus Law Diary this year, I feel like I ought to open by describing some kind of meaningful and academic start to the first week back. Unfortunately, mine in fact began with a game of FIFA. Maybe two. Let’s call it a bonding exercise with the new flatmates, or else some well- deserved downtime after finishing the 0th week exams (called Collections); it is, after all, always a hectic start to an Oxford term.

 Soon however I was back in the swing of things – there was a meeting with everyone doing Law at Corpus, and then lectures promptly got underway. Amongst these were lectures on land law, my new unit this term. It has something of a reputation for being one of the more dull and technical areas of law, but so far at least it has proved quite engaging. The initial material is on registration of rights in land. Much of my first week back has therefore been taken up with attempting to get to grips with it, but I survived the opening tutorial on Wednesday so I must be doing something right! This was my first tutorial taking place outside of Corpus; it is always nice to see something of other colleges, although I did need some help from the Lincoln porter to find the right room. Still, the first time I went to Balliol I ended up getting stuck there, so it could have been worse.

There has also been time to do some non-academic things this week: on Wednesday evening I went to the Oxford Union for the first time this term to hear a talk from Nico Rosberg, winner of last season’s Formula 1 World Championship. As ever it was a privilege to be able to listen to someone from the very top of their field – Union events tend to be interesting even if you’ve not heard of the person speaking, but as a sports fan it was great to listen to someone like Rosberg. He gave some brilliant insights into life as a professional driver, and shed some light on his famously fractious relationship with Lewis Hamilton.

 In the latter part of the week, the work focus shifted to tort law, specifically trespasses to the person and defences. We studied the first half of tort last term, so there was an element of familiarity about it that made the workload perhaps a little less heavy than in land law – nonetheless I put in some significant hours, not least because I wanted to make sure I could watch the Liverpool v Manchester United game guilt-free come Saturday! After all that, the match finished goalless. Traipsing out of O’Neills Irish Bar disappointed about Liverpool’s failure to win, it felt as though I’d never left Oxford. All in all, it’s good to be back.



Michaelmas Term 2-8 October 2017 Week 0. Matthew Dyson (Law Fellow)

Week 0 is when the Law Fellows try to make sure everything is in place for the new year. To be honest, we’re excited, as well as ever so slightly rushed. We’re excited because we get to see our returning second and third years again, as well as what the people we selected 9 months before have done with themselves and what they will do in the future. For myself, I’m particularly excited though, because Liz Fisher, the other (amazing, and much longer-standing) Law Fellow is back from a very well-deserved year’s leave, and we have a new Graduate Teaching Assistant, the incredibly capable Cressida Auckland. We’re rushed because no matter what you do, however early in the summer you work on your lectures and tutorial sheets, plan the initial meetings and co-ordinate with the faculty and library, things will always pop up in the last week before term. It’s also a rush to get done as much of all the research and projects that had occupied us over the summer research period. In my case, I have only just got back from conferences in the USA and Spain, so writing up notes and making sure I don’t lose track of ideas in the hubbub of term is really important. I even dream of getting to work on them a little more during term. We’ve got to have dreams, right?

The week started off with a visit to the College library to pick up a brand new set of loan books. The College law society has just created a law book loan scheme, with the generous help first of the College, and more recently of two law firms, Slaughter and May and Sullivan and Cromwell. Law books can be a real burden on a student’s financial resources, so we’re trying to provide each student with one textbook in each of the ten compulsory subjects as that subject is studied, which is then returned ready for finalists to revise from. This cycle will repeat two or three times before a new edition comes out, maximising the value for the students. I took a quick photo to send as thanks to the law firm (and to encourage them to quiz our second years on the contents of the book when the firm comes to give a workshop and take the students out to dinner later in the year…).

After that, the week had a lot of meetings. I met the BCL and MJur advisees I’ve been assigned by the Faculty to discuss their year and what courses they’d like to do; that was Monday. The papers for an important Governing Body meeting arrived on Monday as well, so they needed careful reading. In addition to our teaching, research and pastoral responsibilities Fellows in Corpus are Trustees of the College, a charity dedicated to, amongst other things, learning and education. The College just turned 500 years old: that’s comforting in that my predecessors have clearly done well, but also makes me think about what I should do to make sure the College flourishes into the future. I also had to complete a review of an article submitted to a leading journal overseas and then confirm some details about the new teachers of criminal law in the faculty (I am the convenor for that course). Those constituted some of the 50 emails I received and the 40 I sent (about average that day, perhaps a little low).

But back to the meetings: the new first years on Tuesday morning, to inspire them/moderately terrify them, and give them the information they need to navigate the term (or at least, the first few weeks). This included students from two other Colleges I’ll be teaching this term. After the Governing Body meeting on Wednesday, it was back to meetings, but this time for the legal methods course we do with the first years to try to help them hit the ground running. We spent about 6 hours on Thursday and Friday going through how they can efficiently go through legal materials, making notes and thinking deeply. We went through practical examples and conceptual ideas. We even played some word games. A nerf gun might or might not have been used. I was particularly pleased to be able to introduce them to Professor Reinhard Zimmermann, who was visiting from Germany. They will be using his (epic) book on Roman law next term, and he kindly signed and dedicated the books for the book loan scheme. I had to miss the Graduate Student welcome dinner and drinks, very sadly, but was there for the Undergraduate welcome dinner on Friday. But that was after a party in my rooms for all the law students, particularly to let the undergrads mingle, chat and nibble. The Law Society diligently obtained snacks, and after introductions, we got down to some serious chatting.

It's now Sunday evening, and I’ve done all the updates I need for my lectures next week, done my first half marathon (Oxford city centre was closed for the day) and am trying to be done with a book chapter on criminal law. So, just a little more rush to finish. Then again, next week is the first tutorial, in Roman law… just thinking about that helps me get excited again.











Network Design