- Number of students per year: eight to ten
- Typical offer: A*AA or equivalent
- Essential subjects: none
- Useful subjects: none
Law is a large and supportive subject at Jesus College. It includes three groups: undergraduates, postgraduates and Fellows. The College admits around 10 undergraduate students each year, as well as around 10 LLM (Master of Laws) and MCL (Master of Corporate Law) students, and typically around two students researching for a PhD in Law. There are four Fellows in Law (more information about them is provided below), and a number of Emeritus (retired) Fellows. Students and Fellows come from a range of backgrounds and jurisdictions.
Added to our Cambridge-based community are a number of Honorary Fellows, including a Judge of the International Court of Justice (Prof. James Crawford) and three Lords Justice of Appeal (Sir Stephen Irwin, Sir Rupert Jackson and Sir Colman Treacy). These Honorary Fellows remain involved in Law at Jesus College, as do many other alumni.
The Jesus College Library has a dedicated Law room, which contains many resources (for example, textbooks and law reports) necessary for legal study. There are also computing facilities available, if needed.
Law is an intellectually stimulating and demanding subject for study. It is taught at Cambridge as an academic subject rather than as a vocation. While studying for the Law degree – the BA in Law – you will learn the skills necessary for critical engagement with legal materials, as well as obtaining substantive knowledge of the main areas of English law. More importantly, you will develop the ability to assess legal rules critically and make arguments regarding what the law should be.
Click here to see some examples of the types of issue that you will examine as a Law undergraduate at Cambridge.
This critical engagement, and the more extensive substantive training, distinguishes the BA in Law degree from the nine-month Postgraduate Diploma in Law (the ‘conversion course’ that can be combined with a degree in a different subject to make the transition to the next stage of qualifying as a lawyer, which we do not teach at Cambridge). A video produced by the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Law explains the benefits of studying for a Law degree, rather than the Diploma.
If students are studying for the three-year BA in Law degree, they study seven ‘Foundation’ papers. Three of these papers (Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Tort Law) are taken in the first year of the degree, alongside Civil Law I (Roman Law) and a course in Legal Skills and Methodology.
In the second and third years of the three-year degree, the remaining Foundation papers (Contract Law, Land Law, EU Law and Equity) must be taken, but students can also choose from a range of optional papers that explore new areas of the law or examine the issues raised by the Foundation papers in more detail. A full list of optional papers is available here. There is also the option, in the third year of the degree, to apply to write a dissertation of around 12,000 words on a legal issue.
Students with a degree in a subject other than Law can apply to be affiliated students, which will mean completing the two-year BA in Law. The Foundation papers are taken within these two years, but there is still the opportunity to take some optional papers alongside them.
Studying Law at Cambridge requires significant time and effort; our students apply themselves rigorously for three years. The majority of work involves reading, analysing, and understanding legal material, primarily cases but also statutory documents and secondary sources such as law review articles. The normal rate of reading is 200 pages of text for each supervision (small group teaching session) for each subject. Supervisions in each paper occur every fortnight. The average first-year student will therefore read 800 pages every two weeks. Reflecting on what has been read, planning answers for the questions set by a supervisor (tutor) and the writing of essays for supervisors (one/two for each subject for each term) add to this independent workload. Revision and further reading will be completed over the Christmas and Easter breaks.
Law students at Jesus are life members of the student-run Jesus College Law Society (JCLS), which organises a variety of events for Law students, including social events,guest talks and mooting competitions (where students present competing legal arguments to a mock court). Law students at Jesus also become members of the Glanville Williams Society. (Glanville Williams was a very famous criminal lawyer, who was a Fellow of Jesus College.) The Society holds an annual gathering where current Law students and alumni (who studied Law or another subject at Jesus before entering the legal profession) can meet.
Lord Toulson Essay Prize in Law
If you find the type of questions mentioned above interesting and have interest in studying Law at university, you should consider entering the Lord Toulson Essay Prize in Law. The prize is named after Lord Toulson (1946-2017), a former student of Jesus College who went on to be Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. It is awarded every year for an essay by a secondary school student that shows an outstanding understanding of, and ability in, the field of law. The prize is intended to give potential Law students a chance to engage with important legal debates and explore the kinds of issues that they would be exposed to in a Cambridge Law degree.
Jesus currently has four Law fellows.
There is no set range of A-Level (or equivalent) subjects that are required to apply to study Law at Jesus.
As noted above, studying Law involves a lot of reading, and the course at Cambridge is assessed entirely on the basis of written work. Applicants should thus have exceptionally strong reading and writing skills, which is most clearly demonstrated by studying subjects that are essay-based (for instance, English and History). A science subject, or mathematics, can also be useful to hone logical and reasoning skills.There is no expectation at Jesus that applicants will have studied A-Level Law. On the one hand, studying A-Level Law can be advantageous, insofar as it introduces you to legal concepts and can help you decide whether studying Law at university is for you. On the other hand, A-Level Law is taught at a very basic level, and some students find it difficult to ‘re-learn’ material at the appropriate level of depth at Cambridge, which can impact negatively on their performance.
There is no need to take the LNAT (the Law National Aptitude Test) to apply to Law at Jesus College.
Decisions regarding admission are made based on the applicant’s pre-existing school record, predicted school record (if applicable), interview performance and Cambridge Law Test score, together with any other relevant circumstances (including extenuating circumstances). A holistic assessment of a candidate’s performance is made – in other words, if you do not do well in one aspect of the process, that does not mean that you will necessarily not be made an offer of admission.
If you are called to interview for a place on the BA in Law at Jesus College, you will take a one-hour written test, known as the Cambridge Law Test. This will happen in December, at the same time as you come for your interview, and is a standard assessment in all Colleges. More information about the Cambridge Law Test is available here.
If you are called to interview, you will have two interviews.
One of these interviews is based on a piece of reading of around 3,000 words that you are given one hour to read before the interview. This interview is designed to establish how well you have understood the pre-read material, and how clearly you can appreciate the legal issues raised by it. The interview will also test your ability to apply legal rules in novel situations.
The second interview will discuss wider questions surrounding the law, as well as issues arising from your personal statement. This interview gives you a chance to show how well you think on your feet, and to demonstrate knowledge of a wider range of issues. You will also be asked to complete an exercise on statutory interpretation. For this exercise, you will receive a short piece of statute (approximately two pages long), and you are given 15 minutes to read it before the interview. In the interview, you will then be asked to apply this statute to different real-life situations. This will test your ability to analyse the nuances in language, and think critically about how the law is applied.
No part of the admissions process requires any existing knowledge of the law. If you are interested in studying Law, useful resources are available on the HE+ website. There are a number of books aimed at intending Law students, for instance Barnard, O’Sullivan and Virgo (eds.), What About Law? Studying Law at University (2nd edn., 2011) and McBride, Letters to a Law Student (4th edn., 2017). Most broadsheet newspapers cover legal issues in detail, and reading this material can give insight into the living, breathing nature of the law.
You do not need to submit any written work.
Deferred and post A-Level entry
Jesus College accepts applications of students wishing to defer the start of their undergraduate studies for a year. It is useful to explain in your application what you intend to do in the relevant year.
Find out how to apply to study at Jesus.