What makes the Cambridge Law course so special?
The Law course at Cambridge is intended to give a deeper appreciation and understanding of the working of legal rules and institutions than is obtainable from vocational training. It provides an opportunity to see 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. So the course is interesting, challenging, and sharply relevant to a whole range of situations which arise in our society.
Opportunities exist to study at a university in another country of the European Union for one year (between Part IB and Part II) under the ERASMUS scheme. Those currently participating are the Universities of Poitiers (France), Regensburg (Germany), Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain).
Why choose Newnham for Law?
Newnham is particularly well suited for those considering Law at Cambridge. The striking Faculty building, just across the road on the Sidgwick site, houses the Law Library and all of the lecture rooms. There is an active Law Society in Newnham, and various activities are arranged for students, including mooting. There is a strong network of former Newnham lawyers, who help provide support, advice and opportunities for current students.
How many students take Law at Newnham and what options do they choose?
Typically there are around six students in each year of Tripos, plus the graduate students. Civil Law is taken by all first year students, and almost all undergraduates will take the seven foundation subjects (Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Tort, Contract, Land Law, Equity, EU Law). Beyond this, students will choose freely. There are a wide range of choices in the third year, in particular, where the half papers and seminars are popular options.
Can you tell me more about the Law Fellows?
Dr Andrew Sanger is Director of Studies in Law, and the Volterra Fietta Junior Research Lecturer at Newnham and the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge. He read Philosophy and Law at Cambridge (Selwyn College), before going to the London School of Economics for an LLM in International Law and then returning to Cambridge (Selwyn College) for his PhD. His research focuses on questions of international law and human rights, with particular interest in corporate responsibility for violations of international norms, the use of force and international humanitarian law, the law of immunity, and the relationship between international and domestic law (particularly the laws of England and Wales and United States federal law). He teaches International Law and Constitutional Law on the undergraduate Tripos, and the Law of Armed Conflict, Use of Force and Peacekeeping on the LLM course. Further details of his publications may be found here.
Dr Felix Steffek is University Lecturer in Comparative Commercial Law at the Faculty of Law and Trinity Joint Law Lecturer at Newnham College. At the Faculty he lectures in Commercial Law, Corporate Finance Law and Corporate Insolvency Law and serves as Deputy Director of the LLM programme. In college he supervises Company Law and Commercial Law and serves as Graduate Law Mentor. Further research interests include alternative dispute resolution, law and economics, comparison of laws and justice theory. He has acted as policy advisor and expert for the European Commission, the World Bank, national governments and parliaments. He studied in Cambridge (LLM), Heidelberg (PhD, undergraduate) and Hamburg (Habilitation, court clerkship). Recent publications include the books Regulating Dispute Resolution (Hart, 2013, with Hannes Unberath et al.) and Mediation (Oxford University Press, 2013, with Klaus Hopt). For further details, click here.
What jobs do Newnham Law students go on to do?
As might be expected, many Newnham Law students enter the legal profession, in all its myriad forms, both public and private, all over the world. But a Law degree offers an excellent starting point for a wide range of jobs in business, industry and further afield. It remains popular with employers. A number of Newnham Law graduates go on to some form of higher education in law, or related spheres. A biennial Newnham Law Lunch allows Newnham students to catch up with what everyone has been doing.
Are there any A-Level subjects that are particularly useful?
A student who intends to study Law at Cambridge need not have taken any particular subject at school. Some knowledge of history and current affairs is desirable, particularly in relation to the study of constitutional and international law. A Law student must be able to think clearly and write well, so any subjects which enhance these skills are useful.
Can I take a gap year?
Yes. We have no preference about this. However, if you do take a gap year we would like it to be a well-structured and constructive use of your time – though this certainly does not mean that we expect it to be focused on legal experience.
How should I prepare for interview at Newnham?
Read as much legally-related material as you can, in any books that interest you, in newspapers, or on the web – especially about cases or legal issues that are of current interest. Exploring these materials will help you decide whether you enjoy this sort of study, and whether you really do want to read law. You might like to visit law courts, or to seek some work experience. Placements may be available in a solicitor’s office or barristers’ chambers, or in legal departments in any industrial or commercial sector, including local government. This is not essential, however. Try to think how you can demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm for reading law. Most important at interview is to be yourself.
All applicants for Law are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed. You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the letters inviting applicants to interview.
Applicants considering combining Law with another Tripos should indicate this when they apply, whether or not they are intending to read Law before or after another subject. If called for interview, they will have interviews (and if applicable, written assessments) in both subjects.
Useful preliminary reading
Nicholas J McBride: Letters to a Law Student (3rd edition 2013)
Barnard, Virgo & O’Sullivan, What about Law? (Hart, 2nd edition 2011)
Walker & Walker’s English Legal System (11th ed 2011)
Elliott & Quinn: English Legal System (13th ed 2012)
Holland & Webb: Learning Legal Rules (Oxford, 8th ed 2013)
J H Baker: An Introduction to Legal History (4th ed 2002)
Where can I find out more?
Lots more information about the Law course is to be found on the Law Faculty website.