Life as a taught graduate student FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about life as a taught course graduate student in law, with subsequent sections specific to the BCL/MJur. Some but not all of the questions and answers are also relevant to students on the MSc and MPhil in Criminology and MSc Law and Finance.
What are the dates for the beginning and end of the programme?
An Oxford academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, generally beginning early October (Michaelmas Term), mid-January (Hilary Term), and late April (Trinity Term). Although teaching is within these eight-week terms only, BCL/MJur students will normally arrive in Oxford in late September, slightly before the beginning of Michaelmas Term, for induction classes and will need to be in Oxford after the end of Trinity Term, until early July for the examinations.
Is attendance at seminars, lectures and tutorials compulsory?
Attendance at seminars and lectures is not compulsory for BCL/MJur students but you would be very unwise to absent yourself from the core teaching for your courses. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory .
- Check individual BCL courses and MJur courses for their teaching arrangements
Can I attend seminars and lectures other than those for the courses I am taking?
You may attend anything you like that appears on the printed lecture list for any faculty or department, unless special indications are given to the contrary. In small group seminars it is polite to ask since these may have a more personal dynamic that you might upset.
What part does my college play in the programme?
Whilst your college advisor will probably not be directly involved in teaching you (unless you have chosen an option which he or she teaches) you should look to them and to other law tutors in your college to give you advice on choosing options, on approaches to study, and for general advice on any other aspect of the course. Your college also has a variety of administrative, disciplinary, domestic, and pastoral functions, and is likely to be the place where you live
What's the difference between a tutorial and a seminar?
Seminars are plenary classes for all the students taking a course, and indeed anyone else that wants to attend. Some are convened by two or more members of the Faculty together. They vary in size according to the number of students taking the course and/or interested in the topic. Typically, they involve interaction between the convenors and the students with the latter contributing ideas and volunteering comments. Tutorials, in Oxford parlance, are small interactions between a single tutor and a few students (normally not more than five, more typically two). They are arranged directly with the students concerned and normally involve the production of written work which tutors then comment on in detail. The provision of tutorials on the BCL/MJur is one major difference between these programmes and LLMs at other law schools.
Will I have my own desk or workspace provided by the Faculty?
There is an area of the Bodleian Law Library set aside for BCL/MJur/MSc students, although without individually assigned seats. There is also a dedicated Graduate Reading Room with 45 desks: 30 of which have power and ethernet connections available (the rest are covered by the wireless network) and several sofas for more relaxed reading. Those in college accommodation will normally find that their room is set up as a live/work space. Colleges also have their own libraries, and many have separate law libraries where you will find extra workspaces.
Are taught postgraduate degrees classified?
There are distinctions as well as passes in the BCL, MJur and MLF.
BCL/MJur: About a third of BCL students and roughly a fifth of MJur students achieve distinctions. The combined failure rate is about 2%.
Will I be able to do paid work during my BCL/MJur/MLF year?
The Faculty and colleges have rules which prohibit all but a small amount of paid work during term time, but in practice, it’s rarely necessary to invoke these rules: the BCL and MJur are extremely intensive full-time courses and you will find you simply do not have the time for paid employment.
Will there be opportunities to teach or act as a research assistant?
Not for those on taught postgraduate courses. The Faculty makes these opportunities available only to research students in their second or later years of research.
Is there student representation in Faculty decision-making?
Yes, there is BCL/MJur, MLF and MSc representation on the Faculty's graduate studies committee and on the Faculty Board. There is also a graduate student representative on the Committee for Library Provision in Law. The Faculty's graduate student society organises the election of representatives. There is a senior faculty officer - the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies (Taught) - with whom issues can also be raised.
Additional sources of information
Those interested in the MSc and MPhil in Criminology and Criminal Justice will find more tailored information on the Centre for Criminology website.
For more detailed and more authoritative answers to all of your questions please consult the Law Faculty BCL MJur Handbook 2017-18
Additional BCL/MJur FAQs
What do the BCL/MJur degrees qualify me to do afterwards?
The BCL and the MJur are masters-level programmes which are internationally renowned for offering an opportunity for rigorous and in-depth study with leading experts in a variety of different legal fields. Consequently, they are highly regarded by employers in legal practice, legal academia, and many other spheres. Unlike our BA in Jurisprudence, they are not ‘qualifying law degrees’ – in other words they do not count towards formal qualification for entry in to legal practice in England and Wales. They do qualify you to apply for admission to our own MPhil in law.
How do I register for BCL/MJur courses?
The Faculty has an online course registration process that runs at the beginning of Michaelmas Term. It is not possible to register for courses before arriving in Oxford. The faculty reserves the right to apply a cap to any BCL or MJur course in the event of an enrolment that exceeds available teaching capacity. A cap will normally be applied in cases where numbers are greater than 35, but occasionally there may be lower or higher caps.
Will the courses currently listed on the website be available next year?
Most of the courses listed will be available but we won’t know for certain until slightly later in the year (we will circulate a list of available courses when we send out offer letters to the successful applicants). If you want to check on the likely availability of any particular course prior to making an application, then you can contact us.
How are BCL/MJur courses examined?
Mostly by traditional unseen three-hour written examinations sat at the end of the year. If you are not used to this style of examination then you might like to attend the extra induction sessions that the Faculty arranges, mainly with MJur students in mind, at the beginning of the year. You may also like to write practice examinations by arrangement with your tutor. The BCL/MJur paper Jurisprudence and Political Theory is examined by the submission of three essays written over the Easter vacation on topics prescribed by the examiners, rather than by a traditional three-hour exam.