Studying Law at Cambridge

StudentsThe undergraduate Law course at Cambridge is intended to give a thorough grounding in the principles of law viewed from an academic rather than a vocational perspective.

Whilst an understanding of the current legal rules and principles is crucial to the study of Law, the Cambridge BA also encourages students to think far beyond the black letters of the rules by, for example: reasoning with the law to consider how it might apply in novel factual situations; evaluating the current state of the law in any given context; questioning which social objectives the rules might serve; exploring the history of the rules; and considering whether the law is in any need of reform.

The BA Tripos Degree

At Cambridge, all first-degree courses, in whatever subject, lead to the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA) with Honours. An undergraduate must pass a Part I and a Part II 'Tripos' examinations to qualify for this degree. These examinations need not be in the same subject, though one of them must be above Part I level. A student may study a combination of two different subjects, taking them separately. This flexibility is one of the attractions of the Cambridge system.

There are three Law Tripos examinations: Parts IA, IB and II.

  • Law Tripos IA is the examination for students studying Law in their first year in Cambridge.
  • Law Tripos IB is for students in their second year who have studied Law Tripos IA the previous year, and also for those changing into Law from other subjects.
  • Law Tripos II is open only to those who have passed Law Tripos IB.

Studying law for three years

First Year (Law Tripos IA)

First year students take four compulsory subjects in the first year: Civil (Roman) Law I, the Law of Tort, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law, as well as a half paper in Legal Skills and Methodology. Further information on these subjects are contained in the next few pages.

Second year (Law Tripos IB)

In the second year, five subjects are studied. The range of subjects on offer is wide – from Family Law to International Law. Most students take Land and Contract Law.

Third year (Law Tripos II)

In the third year, five subjects are selected for Part II from an even wider range, making a total of fourteen subjects over three years. Most students study Equity and European Union Law. Part II students also have the opportunity to write a coursework dissertation (the ‘seminar’ option) as one of their five subjects, and/or to substitute two smaller ‘half-paper’ subjects for a single subject.

Thus, according to preference, undergraduates may develop their interests in Commercial Law, Property Law, Public Law or in more philosophical, historical and sociological aspects of law, such as Jurisprudence, Legal History, Labour law and Criminology.

For more information about the subjects on offer please refer to the full range of subjects on the Faculty website (or listen to short presentations about the papers which were available this year).


Students are assessed for each Part of the Tripos at the end of the relevant academic year, by way of a three-hour written examination for each paper (or two hours in the case of half-papers). Prizes are available for outstanding examination performances.