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Diploma in Legal Studies

The Diploma in Legal Studies ('DLS')

Bodleian Law Library

About the Diploma in Legal Studies

The Diploma in Legal Studies is a one-year full-time programme. It is open only to students coming to the Faculty through one of our exchange agreements with our partner universities in continental Europe. Our current partner universities are in France (Panthéon-Assas University), Germany (Universities of Bonn and Munich), Italy (University of Siena), The Netherlands (University of Leiden) and Spain (Pompeu Fabra University).

The Diploma is not a degree and confers no qualification for legal practice. However, the Diploma programme is derived substantially from the Oxford undergraduate (BA) law degree programme. During the three terms in Oxford, Diploma students study three subjects from a subset of those studied in the BA programme and they sit an examination in each of the three subjects (the same examinations as the final year BA students) at the end of the third term. In addition, in the first and second terms Diploma students take part in the Faculty’s Legal Research Skills Programme, which provides training in the use of legal information resources (both paper and electronic) and legal research, and checks that students are competent in the use of information technology.



Common Law book and gavelIn the third year of my Bachelor degree in Dutch Law in Leiden, I decided to apply for a fourth year abroad and started exploring the options. Spending an entire year in Oxford stood out from the beginning. I decided to apply and I can now safely assert this was one of the best choices I have made so far. Studying in Oxford is completely different from studying in Leiden and it took me a little time getting used to the collegiate system, although this turned out to be quite easy in the friendly environment of St Anne’s College. In Leiden, I took several smaller courses at once, which were mainly taught in big lecture theatres (containing up to 800 students). The change to the tutorial system was quite intense, but turned out to be the best teaching experience I have had. The independent research and the personal teaching challenged me to really get into the material and form my own thoughts about it. Nevertheless, coming from a civil law background, studying common law was at times quite challenging to me, as many of the doctrines of Tort and Contract did not easily fit into my schematic way of thinking. In the end, it took me the entire year to understand how common law develops gradually but flexibly and how this allows students to bring to the table an original point of view, something that is not as easy in Dutch law.
Joyce, DLS 2016-17, from the University of Leiden


Teaching and courses available

Teaching Method and Courses Available

The method of teaching on the Diploma course is identical to the teaching on the BA programme: at the heart of the Oxford undergraduate law programme is the ‘tutorial system’. A tutorial is a meeting between a single law tutor and (usually) two or three students. In most subjects the student will have seven or eight tutorials, which will be paced either weekly (over one term) or fortnightly (over two terms). Some courses are taught by a combination of tutorials and larger-group seminars. For each tutorial the student is given a reading list for independent study, and will normally be expected to write an essay or the answer to a problem question. There is also a range of lectures on various aspects of each course.

Students select three courses from the following list:

Courses available to DLS students


How to apply

How to Apply

Students apply to, and are selected by, their home institution. It is not possible to make an independent application.

Related content

Further general information about coming to Oxford as an exchange student

See the Options for this programme

View the current Law Faculty lecture list

Enquiries about the Diploma in Legal Studies should be directed to the Institute of European and Comparative Law