Studying Law

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 : 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.


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.

For more information about the Law Tripos, details of University, Faculty and College open days, the Trinity Law Residential, the Robert Walker Prize for Essays in Law, summer schools and other ways to learn about studying law in Cambridge, see our Find out more page.


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.

To find out more about the experience we offer, see our Law at Trinity page and download our brochure, What about Law at Trinity College Cambridge.


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.

Academic performance

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.

For more information about how we select applicants and for some suggestions about improving your application, see our What can you do to polish your application? page. For some other ways to learn about studying law in Cambridge, see our Find out more page.


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. The UK government has also confirmed that EU students applying for undergraduate courses starting in 2018 will remain eligible for UK student support for the duration of their course. For more information about finance and financial assistance, see the College’s Finance page.


There are currently five Law Fellows involved in teaching and directing studies at Trinity. We teach the Trinity law students most of their subjects, and we also teach students from other colleges. Each of us also lectures in the Faculty and conducts research in areas of interest and specialisation.

For more information about individual staff, please see the Teaching staff section of the Law Course Page


All applicants for law are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed.

Assessment Format

  • 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.