Corpus Christi College Oxford

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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).

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. Beatson LJ 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 

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.







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