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Civil (Roman) Law

Roman Law is the only Law subject to have been taught at Cambridge since the Faculty of Law was founded over 700 years ago.

The Romans had the first truly advanced legal system, developing rules and techniques which continue in use today. There are four particular reasons why the study of Roman Law is so useful.

First, it is an excellent opportunity to grasp an entire legal system in a short space of time. Nowadays it is difficult for a lawyer to master more than one area of law, be it Tort, Criminal Law or Contract Law as each has become so complex and intricate. However, in the private law of Rome you can see how a legal system functions organically and thus you can prime the rest of your study of English law.

Second, French, German, Italian and a vast number of other legal systems keep alive many of the Roman legal rules and principles; studying Roman Law gives us a basis for exploring them.

Third, modern legal systems take a lot from the way Roman lawyers reasoned. In particular, they use Roman legal methods to unpick some of the difficult problems that we face today.

Fourth, we learn context, to see the law at any particular moment as living and breathing within society, culture and history.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet

Tort Law

The Law of Tort is the law that relates to civil wrongdoing, where one person might have a right to sue another person, usually for financial compensation, in the civil courts.

A particular focus of our course is the law of negligence, which imposes a wide-ranging duty on all members of society to take 'reasonable care' not to cause harm to persons whom we might foresee are likely to be affected by our actions.

Other topics studied in the course include the duties owed by occupiers of land to visitors, the obligations not to harm the reputation of others through spoken and written words (the tort of defamation) and the emerging duty to respect the privacy of other citizens.

Tort is a dynamic, developing area of law that requires us to engage in debates about when, and to what extent, the law should intervene to protect certain rights and how the law mediates between the conflicting rights of citizens (eg one person's right to play cricket versus another person's right not to be hit on the head by a cricket ball - a real case example!).

In this course we discuss how these issues can be resolved through rules that meet the standards of clarity, certainty and predictability that we expect from the law.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet / HE+Think Cambridge Law

Criminal Law

Criminal Law is a compulsory paper usually taken in the first year; those doing the degree in two years take it in their final year.

The course addresses the "substantive" criminal law, that is to say the rules which determine what conduct is criminal; other optional papers later in the degree deal with issues about criminal procedure, evidence and sentencing.

In the Criminal Law course, we cover a range of offences and general principles: relating to homicide offences, non-fatal violent offences, sexual offences, property offences, the main defences to criminal liability, and the principles which determine who is criminally liable for assisting or encouraging others to commit offences.

Academic study of the criminal law requires us to consider a wide range of questions – about legal doctrine, public policy, and even political philosophy – relevant to deciding the basis on which the criminal law should allocate responsibility for causing harm.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet / Think Cambridge Law / HE+ / You be the Judge

Constitutional Law

In Constitutional Law we study the organisation of the state through rules which allocate power to different institutions, and the relationship between those institutions and individual citizens through rules that control the exercise of state powers.

We explore the sources and foundations of the British constitution and examine key constitutional principles such as the rule of law and the separation of powers between different institutions (i.e. Parliament, the government and the judiciary).

We also study the composition and functions of Parliament, ideas surrounding the 'sovereignty' of Parliament, and the impact on the UK’s legal system of European Union law.

The control of state power through the protection of human rights legislation has been an increasingly important aspect of the UK constitution in recent years, and so is a fundamental part of studying Constitutional Law at Cambridge.

We also consider the controls on state power that come from judicial review of government actions, as well as the political accountability of governments for their exercise of power.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet / HE+Public law for everyone blog

Ms Amy Goymour: Civil (Roman) Law

Ms Amy Goymour discusses the study of Civil (Roman) Law I.

Dr Stelios Tofaris: Tort Law

Dr Stelios Tofaris discusses the study of Tort Law.

Ms Joanna Miles: Criminal Law

Ms Joanna Miles discusses the study of Criminal Law.

Professor David Feldman: Constitutional Law

Professor David Feldman discusses the study of Constitutional Law.