Law at Cambridge is world-class and by studying law at Caius, you’ll join an intellectually challenging, supportive and forward thinking community. You can travel to almost any country and find Caius lawyers who are leaders in their fields.
What is law and why should you study it?
Law is a fascinating subject that poses fundamental questions about how society functions, and ought to function. It is about logic, language, ideas and above all people.
Law is also all around us: just open a newspaper! It is controversial, engaging and constantly evolving, addressing questions such as:
- Do human rights only benefit terrorists?
- Why should ideas in inventions (patents) be protected for only 15 years but ideas in books or computer code (copyright) for the author’s life plus 70 years?
- Why does the law make companies liable for manslaughter when a company does not have a physical body or mind?
- What are the constitutional challenges posed by triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union?
The Cambridge law course encourages you to think hard, read widely and make your own criticisms and conclusions about the law, its effects and the policies that underpin it. From public international lawyers and constitutional lawyers to jurisprudents, criminologists and corporate lawyers, a Cambridge law degree enables you to learn from specialists across a wide range of subjects. You can also apply in your second year to spend a year abroad studying a different legal system in Poitiers, Madrid, Regensburg and Utrecht. The Faculty has exchanges at graduate level with Harvard, Melbourne, Sydney and Hong Kong.
Studying law at Cambridge enables you to acquire analytical skills that open doors to diverse careers. As you’ll see from the list of some of Caius’ notable alumni, Cambridge law graduates enjoy careers in all sorts of professions ranging from politics to comedy and the civil service to opera singing! But if you’re already set on a career as a solicitor or barrister, we think there are few better ways to begin your career than with a law degree from Cambridge. In our view, there are real advantages to studying law rather than another degree subject followed by a law conversion course. Beyond the intrinsic interest of law as a field of study, we think that studying law makes it easier both to become a lawyer (because it avoids the delay and expense of undertaking the conversion course) and to be a lawyer (because you are already equipped with a wide and in-depth understanding of the law and the necessary skills in rigorous intellectual argument and analysis). Watch the video of Professor Graham Virgo in action debating the motion 'Those Who Wish to Practise Law Should Not Study Law at University' with Lord Sumption at the Faculty of Law in March 2013. You can find detailed information about the Cambridge undergraduate law degree on the Faculty of Law BA page.
If law at Cambridge sounds like it might be for you, then why should you choose Caius?
Caius is a traditional law college: we have a strong reputation for law, and admit 10 to 12 undergraduates and 8 to 12 graduates in law each year.
If you would like to find out more about financial help for students studying Law at Caius, please see our financial support page.
Caius also benefits from a strong law fellowship of experienced supervisors with diverse research interests. Such wide expertise enables us to provide many undergraduate supervisions ‘in-house’ rather than through colleagues at other colleges. This helps the law fellows to really get to know our students, strengthening support and collegiality among the Caius law community.
Meet our law fellows
Professor Pippa Rogerson was installed as Master of Gonville & Caius on 1 October 2018. She will continue to supervise undergraduate students in conflict of laws. She is a University Reader and a qualified solicitor. You can follow Pippa on Twitter: @PippaRoge.
Professor Jens Scherpe is Director of Studies for Part 1B and Part II. He supervises undergraduates in family law. He is Reader in Comparative Law, Director of Cambridge Family Law (www.family.law.cam.ac.uk), Chen Yu Tung Visiting Professor in Law at the University of Hong Kong, Honorary Professor at the University of Aalborg/Denmark, Honorary Fellow of St. John's College (University of Hong Kong) and Academic Door Tenant at Queen Elizabeth Building (QEB) in London. Jens has also held visiting positions in Sydney, Auckland, London, Vienna, Leuven, Barcelona, Padua and Louvain-la-Neuve and has published several major comparative family law studies, including a four-volume book set on European Family Law with a monograph on ‘The Present and Future of European Family Law'.
Dr Kate Miles supervises undergraduates in constitutional, tort and international law and is an Affiliated Lecturer at the Cambridge Faculty of Law. Prior to joining Caius, she was a Senior Lecturer in International Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, specialising in international investment law and international environmental law. She also practised for several years in the litigation departments of leading commercial law firms in Auckland and Sydney.
Dr Rumiana Yotova is Director of Studies for Part 1A and the LLM. She supervises undergraduates in international, constitutional and EU law. Dr. Yotova is also an Affiliated Lecturer at the Law Faculty where she lectures International Investment Law and EU External Relations. Dr. Yotova practices as an Academic Door Tenant at Thomas More Chambers in London.
The Caius law community continues to be enriched informally by life law fellows who no longer supervise undergraduate students: Professor Tony Smith (formerly University Professor of Criminal & Public Laws and currently Dean of Law, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand) and Mr Michael Prichard (formerly University Lecturer in Law, Editor of the Cambridge Law Journal and Senior Tutor).
Caius has an active law society whose committee members organise the college moot (judged in the first round by one of the Caius law fellows and in the final by one of Caius’ judicial alumni), the annual law dinner and dinners and events throughout the year with many of the law firms and chambers who visit Cambridge to speak with our students.
Our students come from across the world, and from all sorts of backgrounds. We welcome able students regardless of their specialisation at A Level (or equivalent). Both arts and science A Levels offer you the opportunity to develop skills that are useful to law: whatever your subjects you all have something to bring to the study of law and something to learn. We do not require nor especially encourage A Level Law. We welcome affiliated and mature students, and changeover students who have read for the first part of the Tripos in a subject other than law.
Although the admissions process is inevitably competitive, we work hard to ensure that we offer places to read law at Caius to our very best applicants. We interview almost everyone who applies to us and each candidate generally has two interviews lasting 30 minutes each. We usually give candidates a few problem situations 15 minutes in advance of each interview. These form the basis of most of our discussions in the interview. No knowledge of law is necessary for this. There are no ‘tricks’ nor is there a single correct answer. We are looking for manifest interest in legal issues, strong analytical and reasoning skills and an ability to articulate ideas clearly. There are lots of different ways to demonstrate your interest in law and current affairs. We recommend listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 and regularly reading a good newspaper or journal. You might also like to follow up some of the suggested further useful resources that are listed below.
We understand that candidates will be nervous about their interviews so we keep things as relaxed as we can to help everyone give their very best performance. It is important to remember though that interview performance is only one factor that we take into account: your exam results and predicted grades are important indicators of your academic ability, as is your performance in the LNAT. We also read your school reference carefully.
You can listen to some ‘top tips’ for prospective students from Cambridge undergraduates. We’d also be delighted if you can join us at Caius open days when you can ask our law fellows and students questions about the admissions process and their experiences of it.
‘When I first got my offer to Cambridge although I was excited I felt like they had made a mistake and that once I arrived everyone would be much smarter than me. However, once I got to Caius I quickly realised that I really did belong here and, although intelligence can come in a variety of forms, it is the reason we are all here and so it is something that unites us all. No matter where you are from, or what school you went to, you do belong here and you will do well. Caius is a great place to study law because of the unity of the lawyers. Unlike some other colleges the Caius lawyers are a great support system for one another. You don’t realise how important this is until you arrive and are faced with lots of work due in only a short space of time! It’s always a relief to know that despite some competitiveness, at the end of the day Caius lawyers all look out for one another (and you always have people to sit with in lectures!).’
- Kayleigh Anderson
'I came very close to not applying to Cambridge. Having heard horror stories about the workload and plenty of stories about posh, rich student stereotypes, I wasn’t sure that Cambridge was for me. However, when I visited Caius one Saturday afternoon I instantly knew that I would fit in here and I’m so glad I came. Caius has a more intimate feel than some of the other colleges and there is definitely a sense that the Caius lawyers are a family. You will always have the support you need to do well here – be it discussing different approaches to an essay on your way to a supervision with friends or your supervisors providing extra sessions to help hone your exam skills. The array of opportunities and support in college combined with a mix of friendly, welcoming people make studying law at Caius a challenging, rewarding, but most of all enjoyable experience. I’ve had a brilliant first year.’
- Joshua Bibby
Tapp Scholarships for Undergraduate Law Students
Thanks to the generosity of the Tapp benefaction, two Tapp Scholarships of £4,000 per annum will be awarded to the candidates applying to study Law at Caius who most impress the College's Law Fellows and the Admissions Tutor in the course of the admissions process. The scholarship will continue for each year the scholar takes a Law Tripos examination, provided that the scholar has made satisfactory academic progress. There is no separate application for this scholarship; all successful applicants to read Law will automatically be considered. Tapp Scholarships will not be awarded to students already admitted to Caius.
What do our graduates do?
Many of our graduates enjoy highly successful international careers in academia and practice and we make use of their experience and advice to the benefit of our students by inviting them back to Cambridge to judge our college moots, and speak at our law dinners for example. Notable alumni include:
Legislature and Executive:
Rt Hons Kenneth Clarke (past Chancellor of the Exchequer), Keith Vaz, Lord Morris of Aberavon, Lord (Peter) Goldsmith (past Attorney Generals)
LJJ and judges:
Sir Paul Kennedy, Sir Mark Potter, Sir Christopher Clarke, Sir Geoffrey Vos, Paul Finn (Australia), Sir William Young (New Zealand)
Senior partner of Freshfields (William Lawes), general counsel at Schroders (Howard Trust)
Clare Algar (Executive director of Reprieve), Toby Mendel (Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada), Duncan Currie (Greenpeace International)
Prof ATH Smith (Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand), Prof Christopher Forsyth (Cambridge), Prof John Ford (Aberdeen, Scotland), Prof Craig Rotherham (Nottingham, England), Prof Matthew Conaglen (University of Sydney, Australia), Prof Albert Mumma (Nairobi, Kenya), Prof Simon Evans (Melbourne, Australia), Prof Christian Tams (Glasgow, Scotland), Prof Lionel Smith (McGill, Canada), Prof Stephen Pitel (University of Western Ontario, Canada)
Murad Ahmed (journalist), Jennifer Johnston (opera singer), Stephen Mangan (actor)
Further information and useful resources
We welcome your questions about law at Caius so please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Tutor;or the Director of Studies. We also welcome the opportunity to visit schools (time permitting!) and talk to teachers so please also get in touch if these are of interest.
You may also find the following useful sources of further information:
Blogs and social media
T. Bingham, The Rule of Law (Penguin, 2011)
N. McBride, Letters to a Law Student (Pearson, 2013, 3rd edition)
C. Barnard, J. O’Sullivan and G. Virgo (eds), What About Law? Studying Law at University (Hart, 2011, 2nd edition)
G. Robertson, The Justice Game (Vintage, 1999)
M. Pirie, How to Win Every Argument: the Use and Abuse of Logic (Continuum, 2007)
M. Berlins and C. Dyer, The Law Machine (Penguin, 2000)
H. Kennedy, Eve Was Framed (Vintage, 1993)
I. Morley, The Devil’s Advocate (Sweet & Maxwell, 2009, 2nd edition)