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Law reading list

For applicants

We advise you to read the Law page thoroughly. For reading and preparation advice you will find the following sections particularly useful:

For offer holders

Congratulations on gaining your place to read law at King's! We very much look forward to welcoming you later this year. Here is some information about how to prepare for your legal studies at Cambridge.

Introductory reading

You will find the start of the law course a lot easier if you do some introductory reading before coming to Cambridge. There are many books that provide an introduction and useful tips for law students. Do browse through the bookstores or your local library and see which you find most useful/interesting. The following books may help in introducing you to legal skills/how lawyers think (don't worry if you can't find the latest edition):


Law and Politics

You must have, or gain, some idea of the workings of the British political system before studying Constitutional Law. You should read a good-quality "broadsheet" newspaper (such as The Times, The Telegraph, or The Guardian), and listen to topical political programmes such as The Today Programme and Newsnight. We would certainly recommend that you take a keen interest in the political issues of the day, especially constitutional debates which are in the news regularly (e.g. relations between politicians and judges, especially in human rights cases; reform of the House of Lords; proposals for a referendum on EU membership; Scottish independence). If you feel completely ignorant of all of this, you should try to do some of the introductory Constitutional Law reading (see below).

Law in Action

Milton Keynes Magistrates Court

Milton Keynes Magistrates Court. Credit: Jim

You might perhaps like to get some feel for the law in action, for example by observing a local court in session. You could visit your local Magistrates' and/or County Courts (or regional equivalent, such as the Sheriff Court in Scotland). Even the very highest and grandest courts, such as the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand and the Supreme Court (Parliament Square), are open to the public. However, it is certainly not expected that undergraduates have undertaken any legal work experience prior to arrival in Cambridge, so do not become anxious about this.

Legal Writing

Undergraduates will be expected to be able to construct a powerful and clearly expressed argument in essay form. You will, almost immediately after arrival, begin to be required by supervisors to write short (normally 1,500-word) essays for each of your papers. You will complete two such essays for each paper during the first term. Legal writing is very different from the writing you will have encountered during your schooling. Our College-based introductory legal skills session will explain the distinctiveness of legal writing further.

Background reading for the first year papers

In first year, you will study five papers: Civil Law (largely Roman law), Constitution Law, Criminal Law, Law of Tort, and the Freshfields Legal Skills and Methodology course. You will find below a list of books which you may find helpful background reading for these subjects. It is not necessary for you to do a lot of specific reading before October. You certainly should not feel obliged to read all of the books! Reading one book in each section would be sufficient introduction. Your supervisors will not usually expect any specialised knowledge of the law at the outset. You will meet your supervisors early in October, and they will advise you on details of the syllabus as well as books for each paper.

Civil Law

Constitutional Law

Criminal Law

Law of Tort

  • Steve Hedley, Tort (7th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Alastair Mullis and Ken Oliphant, Torts (4th edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
  • Tony Weir, An Introduction to Tort Law (2nd edition, 2006)

For more information, please consult the Law Faculty website which includes reading lists for each of the Part IA (Group 1) papers.

I look forward to seeing you at the start of Michaelmas Term!

Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan, Director of Studies

Reading lists | For offer holders | Undergraduate study