Law is a fascinating and vital part of our lives, and we who teach and research law at Trinity are eager to share it with you.
There are many reasons you might want to study law. You might like debating, or solving practical problems and trying to get to the best solution; you might be an abstract thinker, who likes to ponder the meaning of words and concepts. Whatever your reasons for being interested in law, there will be others who share them in Cambridge.
These pages contain information about studying law at Trinity. We cannot tell you everything about the College or about law here, so we encourage you to visit for yourself, if you can. We hold open days each year but you can also visit the College at other times. If you can’t find an answer to a question you have about admission to read law, please email [email protected] : we would be delighted to help.
If you are interested in a legal career but not sure you want to take a law degree (as opposed to a conversion course after a degree in another subject), you might find it helpful to read our Why study law? page.
Cambridge Law Tripos
To study undergraduate law in Cambridge, you apply to a particular college rather than to the University. The course is called the Law Tripos and leads to a BA degree, rather than LLB, as at many other universities, though this difference is purely formal. New undergraduates study law for three years; students transferring to law from another Tripos or taking a second undergraduate degree study for two years. The three-year course comprises eight and a half compulsory subjects (seven “foundation” subjects required for practising law as a solicitor or barrister in England and Wales, together with Civil (Roman) Law and a half-paper in legal skills and methods) and six optional subjects. The two-year version is similar, save that it omits Civil Law and has only three optional papers. There are examinations in each subject at the end of each year.
Law courses differ significantly between universities: some have many compulsory subjects and fewer optional subjects; some offer the chance to write dissertations instead of certain exams; others feature continuous assessment rather than exams at the end of each year or at the end of the degree. Consider the scope and structure of courses at different institutions to help you make the right decisions. Consider, too, the modes of teaching and learning at different institutions. In Cambridge, reading law is both highly self-directed and highly participatory, with an average each week of one essay and two supervisions (the Cambridge term for small-group teaching of around three students with the supervisor), on top of lectures and time spent in the library. We think this is a superb way to study law but we recognise it is not for everyone.
If you think Cambridge may be right for you, we recommend that you visit, if you can. The Faculty and University offer a range of open days and summer schools; Trinity participates in these and other outreach events. Best of all, Trinity runs an annual Law Residential programme: an opportunity to spend a few days in Trinity and experience for yourself the life of an undergraduate law student. We also award the Robert Walker Prize for Essays in Law, in a competition designed to foster engagement with topical legal issues.
Law at Trinity
Trinity has a long and distinguished tradition in law, from alumni such as Lord Chancellors Bacon and Lyndhurst and jurists Maitland and Pollock, to modern academic giants, such as Jolowicz, Weir, Jones and Lauterpacht, and present-day judges in the UK Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Current students ably carry on this legacy: in 2016-2017, Trinity was the second-ranked college in the University for law exam results.
At Trinity, we treat law as an academic discipline with a wide range of political, social, philosophical, historical and international dimensions. Reading law here is about more than just preparing for legal practice, though, of course, studying law for three years provides an excellent grounding for a legal career.
Trinity has a vibrant and diverse community of law students, and the College can offer you just about everything you need to help you become the best lawyer you can be: excellent facilities, inspiring surroundings and passionate, dedicated and experienced teachers. The only question is whether you want to challenge yourself with a rewarding, highly regarded and important degree.
Applying to study Law at Trinity
The study of law is open to many different perspectives and law students come in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, unlike languages or maths or history, law is only rarely a subject that our students have studied before they come to university. For these reasons, amongst others, we make offers based on potential: potential to be a great lawyer and potential to make the most of the opportunities at Trinity and beyond. We assess potential in three ways.
We assess your potential academic performance in light of the results you have achieved to date and the results you are predicted to attain. Interviews and the Cambridge Law Test give us further perspectives on your ability, as we see how you think and reason in person. Your academic performance is perhaps the single biggest component of how we objectively measure your potential to do well in Cambridge but it is by no means the only component.
Ability to make the most of your academic abilities
Your academic performance tells us a lot but we also look for examples of your dedication, focus and willingness to work on difficult issues. Your school reference and personal statement can helpfully illustrate your ability to make the most of your academic potential.
Interest in Law
You may be academically strong and be highly dedicated but, if you have no real interest in law, you will not make the best law student. We expect candidates to be able to say why law fascinates them. At interview, we may explore how that fascination has been developed and explored. Of course, we appreciate that applicants show an interest in law in different ways, since they come from a wide range of different backgrounds, experiences and opportunities. We are eager to understand what has shaped your decision to study law at university and what captivates you about law.
No UK student should be deterred from applying for an undergraduate degree at Cambridge by financial considerations, and no such student should be unable to take up a place, or have to leave before gaining a degree, because of financial difficulties. For more information about finance and financial assistance, see the College’s Finance page.
More course details
UCAS Code: M100
Length: 3 years
Deferred entry: Applications Welcome
Affiliated entry: Applications Welcome
- A Levels: A*AA;
- Scottish Highers: AAA at advanced higher grade
- IB: 42 with 776 at higher level; or equivalent: see Overseas Qualifications
Preferred A Level subjects: None required but see Preferred A-Level Subject Combinations
Assessment format: At-interview Cambridge Law Test (essay; 60 minutes)
Written work: None required
Interviews: Candidates will be interviewed by members of the law teaching staff.
Admissions brochure: What about Law at Trinity College Cambridge
Catherine is a specialist in the law of the European Union and Labour Law. She teaches Trinity law students in their final year of study, as EU Law is a compulsory subject for those wishing to graduate with a degree that will let them practise law in England and Wales. It’s a foundational subject because it is so important to our present and our future. There are some comically bad examples of things the EU has done, such as fruit having to be certain shapes or sizes to be sold. But there are far more examples of things the EU has done which make our lives better: reduced roaming tariffs on mobile phones, cheap(er) flights with the low-cost carriers, even ensuring that we get fine café latte at breakfast. Studying EU law will explain how.
Louise brings a wealth of experience at the bar to her academic work, specialising in subjects related to international business. Louise teaches the compulsory second-year subject Contract Law, as well as Commercial Law and Conflicts of Laws, which are subjects students can choose to take in their third year. Louise’s main research interests lie in the field of conflict of laws, also known as Private International Law. Given that trade, employment, regulation, and all sorts of commercial transactions now take place globally, rather than simply within one country, rules are needed to tell us which law applies to govern the relationship and where any disputes between the parties should be resolved. This is what the subject of private international law deals with.
For example, let’s think about Bianca, who gets a job working for Charles. Bianca is from Denmark and Charles is from England. Bianca is employed to drive a lorry around Europe, especially in France. In Denmark, Bianca is a member of a Trades Union which protects certain rights, such as coverage for dental treatment. Charles’s company is based in England, where he has arranged different deals with the Trades Unions than the deals in Denmark: for instance, he gives much more medical benefits but much lower dental benefits. Before we work out what Charles should be able to do, which law should decide the outcome? Danish, English? French? A little of one and some of the other? Who is entitled to say that their decisions on benefits are right, and someone else’s wrong? In which court should any dispute be heard? Conflicts of Laws is an area of study to help us to solve questions like that fairly.
Jo teaches Trinity students Criminal Law in their first year and, if they wish, the optional subject of Family Law in second or third year. Jo’s main research concerns the legal regulation of adult relationships, family property law and financial remedies on relationship breakdown and death; she also works on issues relating to access to justice, in light of current legal aid reforms which will make it harder for people to access legal advice and representation. She has been involved in law reform projects, having spent two years working for the Law Commission in the team which made recommendations for reform of the law relating to the financial situation of unmarried couples when their relationships end. This socially and politically controversial project attracted a lot of media attention, especially from the Daily Mail, and while reform of the law to protect those who are left vulnerable in these cases remains far off, the topic continues to generate fierce debate. A lot of Jo’s research is empirical: going out into the real world to observe how the law operates in practice (surprisingly often, not as the law-maker intended!), trying to understand why people act as they do in relation to their legal problems, and to gauge public attitudes about the law and law reform. This sort of work is very enriching of legal study, helping us to put the law as it appears “in the books” into perspective. She has good connections with the legal professions, and is an academic member of one of the leading family law barristers’ chambers in London.
Ben teaches the compulsory first-year subjects Constitutional Law and Civil Law I (Roman law), introducing students to the fundamentals of public and private law reasoning, as well as the advanced optional paper Civil Law II on the Roman law of delict. The reach of public law is changing constantly, and its distinctive principles and techniques for regulating the relationship between individuals and the state are evolving rapidly: this is a fascinating time to engage with the United Kingdom constitution. The institutions of Roman private law, refined over the course of a thousand years of sophisticated practical and principled juristic thinking, continue to shape the discourse and doctrines of the Western legal tradition. Studying Roman law offers insight into the conceptual structure and argumentative methods of the law governing relations between individuals; it not only exposes us to new and different concepts and alternative solutions to problems but also facilitates a better understanding of our own law.
Ben’s research interests span public law and Roman law, as well as connected aspects of legal philosophy and legal history. Ben is also interested in methods of legal education and, in particular, in mooting. He offers new Trinity law students a crash-course in reading, writing and thinking like a lawyer and he takes an active role in several mooting competitions: contests that simulate an appeal hearing, in which participants analyse a problem, research the relevant law, prepare brief written submissions, and present oral argument.
Sarah is a specialist in commercial equity and corporate law. She teaches Trinity law students Equity in their final year, and also Company Law if they choose to take that option. Equity is one of the foundational subjects for legal practice, and is taken in the final year, since it is a subject which spreads its tentacles through all aspects of English law, influencing the legal rules which regulate contracts, civil wrongs, land law and personal property. The rules of equity are frequently called into play in resolving some of the most challenging aspects of the laws governing both commercial and domestic relationships. Sarah’s particular research interests are in secured financing (collapse of Lehman Bros-type issues) and corporate governance. She practised as a barrister for a short time, and retains a role as an academic member of chambers.
All applicants for law are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed.
- Cambridge Law Test (essay; 60 minutes)
For sample tests and marking criteria for the Cambridge Law Test, see the Law Admissions Assessment Specification.
You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the written assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.
Please note that your performance in the written assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.