The study of law has a long and distinguished history at the University of Cambridge—and at Fitzwilliam College. 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. Fitzwilliam law graduates area to be found at the upper echelons of the legal profession both nationally and internationally, and have also succeeded in a diverse array of other fields from politics to academia to the arts.
Director of Studies and Fellows
Dr Niamh Dunne, Bye Fellow in Law, is Director of Studies for Undergraduate students. She is an Affiliated Lecturer at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and Lecturer in Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. She supervises undergraduates in Tort Law. Her research interests lie in the areas of competition law and economic regulation, particular focusing on institutions of competition policy.
Mr Richard Hooley, Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, is Director of Studies for LLM students. He is also University Lecturer in Corporate Law and Director of the specialist Masters of Corporate Law (MCL) course at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge. He 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.
Mrs Nicola Padfield, Master of Fitzwilliam College, is Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge. 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.
Professor Sir Anthony E. Bottoms, F.B.A. is a Life Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, and was formerly the Wolfson Professor of Criminology at the University of Cambridge.
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.
Alternatively, students have the opportunity to defer Part II until their fourth year and spend their third year studying at law schools in France (Poitiers), Germany (Regensburg) or the Netherlands (Utrecht).
Part IA (first year) students take four compulsory papers: Civil Law I (i.e. ancient Roman law!), Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and the Law of Tort. In addition, from 2014 onwards, students take an additional half-paper on Legal Skills and Methodology, which is intended to complement the substantive legal studies with training in necessary analytical skills.
Part IB (second year) students take five papers. Two of these are compulsory: Law of Contract and Land Law. From second year onwards, however, students gain significant control over the shape and scope of their law degree, which they can tailor to suit their interests. Thus, students make a choice of three optional papers from amongst the following: International Law, Civil Law II, Administrative Law, Family Law, Legal History, Jurisprudence, Criminology Sentencing & the Penal System, Criminal Procedure and Evidence and Comparative Law.
For Part II (third and final year), students have two further compulsory papers: Equity and EU Law. Nonetheless, choice increase even further for finalists, as students choose three optional papers from an even broader range of subjects, in addition to those available for Part IB. These include: Commercial Law, Labour Law, Intellectual Property, Company Law, Aspects of Obligations, Conflict of Laws and Competition Law.
Alternatively, students may choose to participate in a seminar course and write a dissertation on a subject of their choice—subjects for seminar courses vary from year to year, but have included select issues in international law, the family in society, women and the law, criminal justice, and human rights in recent years—and/or substitute one full paper for two half papers, on topics which may include European Human Rights Law, Tax Law, Medical Law, Law of Succession, Crime and Criminals, Landlord and Tenant, Banking Law, and Law and Development. Do note 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. Changing from another Tripos to read Law is not automatic, and students who have done so find the first year, in particular, very challenging. Nonetheless, 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. We also accept students for the specialised MCL course, in corporate law.
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. Supervisions, in small groups of three or four, are taken either in at Fitzwilliam or in another College in Cambridge, in order to ensure that teaching is done by experts in a subject. Fitzwilliam has a dedicated College Law Library within the wonderful new Olisa Library building.
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, including a very fun annual dinner with invited guests.
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!).
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—or even more exciting careers! A Law degree is a very attractive qualification for prospective employers.
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