Law

The law course at Cambridge is intended to give a deeper appreciation of the working of legal rules and institutions than is obtainable from a merely vocational training.

The course seeks to do this by providing an opportunity to study Law in its historical and social context and to examine its general principles and techniques. The problems studied involve questions of interpretation, logical reasoning, ethical judgment, civil and political liberties and social control.


Director of Studies and Fellows

Mrs Nicola Padfield, Director of Studies, is Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, as well as a College Teaching Fellow.  She supervises undergraduates in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Evidence, and Sentencing and the Penal System. She has published widely on criminal law, criminal justice and sentencing. She also sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court.

Professor Sir Anthony E. Bottoms, F.B.A., recently retired as the Wolfson Professor of Criminology in the University. He is a Life Fellow.

Mr Richard Hooley, Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, is Director of Studies for LLM students. He also supervises undergraduates in Contract Law and Commercial Law. His research interests are in the fields of commercial law and banking law, and he has published a number of student and practitioner books in these areas.


Course structure

The Law Tripos is divided into Part IA, taken at the end of the first year, Part IB which is normally taken at the end of the second year, and Part II, which is normally taken at the end of the third year (although students have the opportunity to defer Part II until their fourth year and spend their third year studying in France, Germany, Holland or Spain). Part IA candidates take all four papers in Group I (see below), in Part IB they offer five papers, normally chosen from Groups II and III, and for Part II either five papers from Groups III and IV, or four papers from these groups together with participation in a seminar course (subjects in recent years include: explanations of criminal behaviour, the family in society, sociology of law, problems in taxation law and policy, human rights, securities regulation and modern legal history) and a long essay on a topic chosen from those prescribed by the Faculty Board. 

The Groups of papers are as follows:

Group I Civil Law I; Constitutional Law; Criminal Law; Law of Tort.

Group II Law of Contract; Land Law; International Law; Civil Law II.

Group III Administrative Law; Family Law; Legal History; Sentencing and the Penal System; Criminal Procedure and Criminal Evidence; Equity; EC Law.

Group IV Commercial Law; Labour Law; Intellectual Property; Principles of Conveyancing Law; Company Law; Aspects of Obligations; Conflict of Laws; Comparative Law; Jurisprudence; Prescribed subjects (half-papers).

The prescribed subjects (half-papers) in recent years have included European Human Rights Law, Tax Law, Medical Law, Law of Succession, Crime and Criminals, Landlord and Tenant, and Banking Law. Two must be taken, which count as one paper. Please note, however, that the availability of particular subjects may change from year to year; this is particularly true of seminar courses and the half-papers.

It is possible to change to read Law after reading part of another Tripos. A two-year study of Law is required. If a student takes another Tripos at the end of their first year, they will take Part IB of the Law Tripos in their second year and Part II of the Law Tripos in their third year. If they take another Tripos at the end of the second year, they will take Part IB at the end of their third year and Part II at the end of a fourth year. There is no guarantee that funds for a fourth  year will always be forthcoming from Student Finance England. Changing from another Tripos to read Law is not automatic. Each application to change is considered by the College's Tutorial Committee and a good 2.1 in the previous Tripos is usually specified as a condition of being allowed to change to Law.

The College also admits graduate students reading for the postgraduate LL.M. Candidates take any four papers selected from a wide range of options in English Law, Legal History, Civil Law, Public Law, International Law, Comparative Law, Legal History and Commercial Law.


Teaching

Students are taught by lectures and supervisions. The lectures, which cover the entire syllabus, are given at the Law Faculty Building on the Sidgwick Site, and the supervisions, in small groups of three or four, are taken either in the College or in another College in Cambridge. The Law Fellows at Fitzwilliam are listed towards the end of this leaflet. Students are also supervised by Fellows in other Colleges to ensure their teaching is always done by experts in the subject. Fitzwilliam has a separate College Law Library.

The College Law Society is very active and is run by undergraduates. It invites speakers, e.g. judges, barristers and solicitors, to talk to and meet with the undergraduates on an informal basis. Each year it organizes a comprehensive programme of social events for undergraduates. 

There is an annual competition in the College for the 1984 Mooting Cup, presented to the Law Society to mark the achievement of the College Law Finalists of that year, five of whom obtained First Class degrees (as well as a cash prize!).  There is also an annual College Law Society dinner.


Requirements

Students intending to read Law need not have studied any particular subject at school. The College welcomes applicants with very high Advanced Level grades achieved or in prospect or their equivalents. The normal requirement to read Law at Fitzwilliam is A*AA at Advanced Level.


Life after Cambridge

Although many undergraduates who read Law go into private practice, there are many who prefer careers in the Civil Service, local government, the legal departments of industrial and commercial firms and banks, and international organisations. 

On the other hand, there are undergraduates who read Law and have no intention of becoming professional lawyers, particularly those who intend to go into management or to become accountants. A Law degree is a very attractive qualification for prospective employers.


More information

Faculty of Law website >>

Short video about Law on the University's YouTube channel >>

For further information on reading Law at Fitzwilliam College, contact, in the first instance, the Admissions Office, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, CB3 ODG, or via email: admissions@cam,.ac.uk