Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Law

We typically seek to admit 6 students in Law.

 


See Corpus Christi's Law Diary, updated weekly by law students and tutors during term-time.


To learn about two opportunities to find out more about law, university and specifically Corpus and Oxford, see our Peter Cane Legal Reasoning Prize and Law Residential Outreach events.


    
Not everyone with talents thinks they will fit into this lineup...                        ....but don't worry, we're like this most of the time!


1. Why study law?


Law is a fascinating subject, drawing on such diverse fields as history, philosophy, linguistics, economics, sociology and many others. It is the starting point, or ending point, of trying to create the space in which society can flourish. Law is how we create rules and practices to interact with each other and step from ideas, concepts and different understandings of morality, to reach a solution for how we can all live and work together. Engaging with what law is, should be and will be in the future is more than interesting and challenging enough for a lifetime, let alone three years of a degree, but we’d be delighted to at least start that journey with you.

For most people considering a law degree, this would be the first opportunity to study law. Some of you will have found opportunities to find out more, such as by attending open days, speaking to practitioners, reading books and blogs, attending court hearings in the public gallery or just thinking about some legal issues that you hear about. Not everyone has the same time or opportunities, but we certainly think finding out as much as you are able in advance is useful. The university website has some useful material here. As you can tell already, our view is not that law is just what you can read in a book: it is lived, laboured over, debated, conceived of, honed and challenged. Engaging with legal arguments brings precision of thought, skill in separating the relevant wheat from the discardable chaff and a structured and practical way of responding to real world problems. Exactly how that development takes place will vary, with the philosopher of law exploring lofty concepts while the practitioner of tax law constructs a clause designed to be impregnable, knowing that equally dedicated minds on the other side will be attempted to crack it open. Most applicants do not know what kind of lawyer they would like to be when they start, but finding out what you will become is one of the joys of working in the community that Corpus provides.

Should you apply to read law only if you know you want to be lawyer? Not at all! Applying to read law at Corpus is a brilliant route to a legal career but that is by no means the only reason for studying law. We regard it as a first rate education in the political, ethical, social and economic problems of modern society. We have numerous Corpus alumni in senior positions in the legal profession including in the judiciary, in academia, as partners in law firms, and at the Bar. Many students go on to qualify and practice as lawyers whether at the Bar or as solicitors in law firms, government service, international bodies like the UN, or with a wide range of non-governmental organisations. But not all - some interesting career paths taken by past Corpus law students include training as an opera singer, working in a monkey sanctuary in Guatemala, and becoming a priest. Other students go on to take graduate law degrees at Oxford, elsewhere in the UK, US and Europe, and several have gone on to successful careers in legal academia.

Should you study law at university or a different subject and then convert? That’s not an easy question. Perhaps the obvious starting point is to say that it is your life and your decision, and everyone might have their own perspective. One of your teachers might think you would do well in her subject with you, and recommend that in place of law; and she might be right. A careers advisor might tell you that many leading solicitors’ firms accept those who have done the one year conversion course for law; that is certainly true. And we who teach undergraduate law are certainly interested in working closely with those who are dedicated, intelligent and able to discuss the law with us (it makes for a more interesting tutorial, certainly). What we can say is that a law degree is a hugely rewarding experience. If you have really looked into what it would mean, the opportunities and the trials, and feel how much you might enjoy it, then you have glimpsed what the degree can be like. It may be that you’d enjoy a different subject first, and then become a practitioner, but the conversion process is only a pale imitation of what we think the law degree can offer. If we did not think Law was worth dedicating our lives to teaching and researching, we would have made other life choices!

We encourage you to continue the effort shown by reading this website, and get in touch with those who can tell you more about your options based on real evidence and experience. There are many great degrees (and many great non-degree options), and many different ways to study it. Oxford has its own way of teaching, honed over more than eight centuries, five of them with Corpus Christi as a constituent College and if you’re interested in us, we’re interested in you.


 


2. What is studying law at Corpus like?


It will be challenging, better to tell you that now rather than have you be surprised later on. It will involve hard work, but not because you are set hard work by your tutors, but because the law is hard and complex so to understand and manipulate it, you have to put the work in. The funny thing is, after you try work at it for a brief while, you will likely find yourself wanting to do it more and more. That is what most students find. And you’re be doing it in great company. Corpus has a lively, enthusiastic, and hard-working community of law students. We support each other, lifting out of the lows and sharing the highs together. We are in a “Great Little College”, in the centre of Oxford but still looking out over meadows from the medieval walls of the city of Oxford. Great lawyers over the centuries have called Corpus home and started journeys through the legal world here. Our College Library is well stocked with law materials including law reports, journals, textbooks and monographs. We have a vibrant body of law students, with moots, speaker meetings and social occasions generously funded by the College and others.

The core of the teaching is small group sessions called tutorials, where between 1 and 3 students and one academic discuss and debate the law every week or fortnight during the term for each of the papers you are studying. It’s a chance to hone your understanding of the law, and a chance for the tutor to understand how you are thinking and offer guidance to help you develop as a lawyer. It is also a chance for producing essays and receiving feedback on how to write and reason even better.

In addition, lectures are provided for all law undergraduates by the Law Faculty by leading, internationally renowned experts. The Faculty sets the examinations and provides a wider community of peers and scholars to engage with during the course and beyond. All students have use of the superb facilities of the Bodleian Law Library and its very helpful staff. The Bodleian law library has one of the three largest law collections in the UK, with a recently refurbished building next to lectures. It’s an amazing place, to find cases, textbooks and statutes drawn from thousands of years and hundreds of legal systems.


We have events each term for lawyers to get together, talk about law and everything but law. Our Christmas party is rather special, but so is our "Make Your Case Night" and our afternoon tea in the summer.



Afternoon Tea 2017 and good luck wishes (and pencil cases) for the finalists.



3. Who would teach you at Corpus?


The Law Fellows of the College are Professor Liz Fisher and Dr Matt Dyson, together they have decades of experience of teaching law, along with more than a little excitement about the years of teaching to come. Prof Fisher teaches Administrative Law and European Union Law, as well as Environmental Law as an advanced subject. Dr Dyson teaches Criminal law, Tort law, Roman law and Comparative Law. They are ably assisting by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, at present Cressida Auckland, who teaches Contract and Constitutional Law. Together they form a superb teaching team able to provide Corpus undergraduates with just the right amount of challenge and support throughout their time at Oxford. For those subjects we do not cover in college we have excellent reciprocal arrangements with fellows in other colleges who provide first rate teaching in their areas of expertise.



4. How do I apply to read law?


We would love to give places to all the excellent students who apply to us, but we simply do not have the resources to do so. We’d also like it if all the talented people who would love to do a law degree applied, rather than were put off by myths about law, about Oxford or about it being better to do a different subject than law at university and qualify as a lawyer by a different route. But our hopes there are dashed too, myths abound and many who would love a law degree do not apply.

If you have made the choice to apply, do so via the October UCAS deadline. There is then a process to assess the gathered field of applicants, and invitations to interview are made so that roughly three times the number of applicants compared to the number of places are interviewed.

Each year we admit six undergraduates to read for either the three year Law course or the four-year course in Law with Law Studies in Europe. We do consider applications for the BA Jurisprudence course from students who already have a graduate degree but only if students are willing to do the full three or four year course.

The Selection criteria for all law students are application (motivation and capacity for sustained and intense work), reasoning ability and communication (willingness and ability to express ideas clearly and effectively, to listen and to respond effectively). For further detail see here.
We also take approximately four graduate students each year to read for taught courses (the BCL, MJur, or MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice) and research degrees (the MPhil, MSt, or DPhil) in Law. Graduate students are assigned to either Professor Fisher or Dr Dyson as their college advisor with whom they meet regularly to discuss their progress. Supervisors for research students are often located in other colleges and research students also have access to the many discussion groups and seminars that run throughout the academic year.
If you have particular questions about law at Corpus, we’d love to hear from you, and the appropriate email address is admissions.office@ccc.ox.ac.uk. One of us might even meet you at Open days and Admissions or Access events around the country!

Details about the courses can be found in the University prospectus. General information about the law admissions process and courses can be found on the Law Faculty website.


 


With thanks to Nick Read for photograhy (unless otherwise noted)


 

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