skip to content
 
Studying at Cambridge

The following is a list of all the full papers currently offered as part of the Law Tripos and descriptions of course content. While specific areas of focus within each paper may vary year to year, the general themes and questions addressed will remain the same.

Civil Law I (Paper 10)

This paper allows students to explore aspects of Roman law, the first advanced legal system. Roman law underpins many of the fundamental rules, techniques, and principles of modern law today. The course covers aspects such as the sources of law in Roman society, concepts of ownership and property, contracts, and delict, or the idea of wrongful conduct.

Constitutional Law (Paper 11)

This paper introduces law students to the key concepts, institutions, debates, and themes of constitutional law. It provides an overview of the allocation of powers among different institutions and the relationship between these institutions and individual citizens through the rules that control the exercise of state powers. Specifically, students examine the separation of powers, the rule of law, legislative authority and the multi-layered nature of the UK constitution in the context of the European Union and Brexit and devolution of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This paper also explores aspects of authority and accountability in relation to Parliament and the executive branch of government, judicial review, and the UK's human rights framework.

Criminal Law (Paper 12)

This papers covers the fundamental rules which determine what conduct is criminal, familiarising students with the concepts and doctrines needed to analyse the actus reus (external) and the mens rea (fault) elements of criminal offences as well as with the different modes of liability (most prominently, secondary - or accessorial - liability) and a range of defences to criminal liability. It also introduces students to a range of specific offences, such as murder and manslaughter and a selection of non-fatal violent offences against the person, sexual offences, and property offences. The aim is not just to get students to engage with what the criminal law of England and Wales at present says about such matters, but also to equip students with the skills required to subject criminal law rules to critical analysis and consider how they might be improved.

Law of Tort (Paper 13)

The Law of Tort pertains to the principle of civil wrongdoing, where a person may have the right to sue another person in the civil courts, usually for financial compensation. This paper focuses in particular on the law of negligence and the duty of all members of society to take 'reasonable care' not to harm others whom we might reasonably foresee to be affected by our actions. It also covers other torts such as the liability of occupiers for their premises, private nuisance to neighbours, manufacturers' liability of defective goods and trespass to the person (the civil law equivalent of assault in criminal law). It also covers some general principles applicable to all torts, such as the allocation of liability between two or more people who jointly commit the same wrong, and a company's liability for wrongs committed by its staff.

Law of Contract (Paper 20)

The law of contract pertains to the rights and duties of two parties in a legally binding agreement. The papers covers principles that define the creation and contents of contracts as well as vitiating factors, which lead to the invalidation of a contract, and the provision of remedies, such as financial damages, when there is a breach of contact.

Land Law (Paper 21)

Land Law involves analysing and reflecting on the legal rules and underlying policies which govern the ownership and use of land. Topics covered include the law of adverse possession (concerning squatters' rights); the rules governing title registration (and the associated controversies); the way in which two or more people can co-own land (including what happens when one of them wants to sell); and many other types of interest which can be held in relation to land – eg leases, mortgages and easements (rights over neighbouring land, such as rights of way).

Civil Law II (Paper 30)

The second civil law paper allows for greater exploration of Roman law and builds upon Civil Law I which all students must take. It covers the main delicts: furtum (theft) and rapina (robbery), where it touches on the overlap between criminal and civil process and the implications; iniuria (disrespect); and, in considerable detail, damage to property under the lex Aquilia where the seeds of the statutory remedy developed into something like the modern tort of negligence. Attention is paid to quasi-delictual obligations, in so far as through these we can approach an understanding of delict itself. Throughout attention is paid to close textual analysis, seeing how the great Roman legal thinkers dealt with complex conceptual and policy issues.

Administrative Law (Paper 31)

Administrative law regulates the administrative activities of government and public authorities. It enables judicial review of executive bodies of power (for example, the government, a city council, a ministerial department, or individual MPs and representatives) by the High Court to hold them accountable. This paper covers the historical and constitutional foundations of judicial review and the jurisdictional control of the courts. The paper also examines contemporary issues – for example the potential proposals to modify judicial review, and recent debate as to whether the courts are being too political when they review governmental actions. It also delves deeper into the procedural rules and processes that must be met or undertaken during judicial review.

Family Law (Paper 32)

Family law encompasses the laws that govern the domestic sphere: from birth, to death and everything in between. It considers the regulation of adult relationships, including such issues as marriage, civil partnership and cohabitation, their termination through divorce/dissolution and the financial consequences, as well as analysing the relationship between parents and children, through the law of parenthood, resolving residence disputes, and the protection of children from abuse and neglect. In doing so, it explores fundamental policy questions underlying the law, and in particular, whether the existing law is based on outdated ideas or prejudices, and how we can move the law forward into the 21stcentury.

Legal History (Paper 33)

The Legal History paper stands back from the details of particular areas of modern law, providing a general survey of changes in English legal institutions, principles and ideas over the period since the Norman Conquest of 1066. The law is rooted in historical sources, such as decided cases and statutes, and it has never stood still; therefore all lawyers, whether they know it or not, are constantly confronted by legal history. This paper covers the institutions and sources of English law, the development of the common law courts and profession, and the establishment and evolution of non-common law courts such as the Court of Star Chamber and the Court of Chancery, which gave rise to the body of rules and principles known as equity. It also explores the history and development of aspects of tort law, criminal law, property law and the history of trusts in the English context, examining the thinking of previous generations of lawyers and judges and the ways in which they applied and manipulated law, and helping students to understand how the modern common law came to be as it is.

Criminology, sentencing and the penal system (Paper 34)

This paper looks at the concept of crime and punishment through a criminological lens, but also with a focus on changing laws and policies. We study the law of sentencing, but in a wide socio-legal context. For example, we explore the role of the police as gate-keepers to the criminal justice 'system' and examine the ways in which the prison and probation services actually work in practice. We look at philosophies/theories of punishment, and pay particular attention to the way the 'system' applies to particular groups of offenders such as BAME, women, and young offenders. We look at the evidence on what works to reduce re-offending. Students are encouraged to consider empirical evidence, and to develop a critical eye.

Criminal Procedure and Criminal Evidence (Paper 35)

This paper is concerned with the course of criminal investigations, prosecutorial decision-making, and the rules concerning the admissibility of evidence at criminal trials in England and Wales. It includes significant reference to the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on these matters. The paper covers the procedures in place throughout trials, such as: the rights of defendants, complainants and other witnesses; the incentives put in place to encourage defendants to waive their right to a trial through pleading guilty; and the burden of proof (and, in particular, when the defendant may legitimately bear the burden of proving certain matters). The paper also covers the concept of relevance and the special admissibility regimes that are applied to particularly problematic forms of evidence. Some examples of such problematic forms of evidence are evidence of 'bad character' (including the defendant's previous convictions), 'sexual behaviour evidence' (evidence about the complainant's previous sexual experience with the defendant and others), and hearsay evidence (evidence of what someone has said outside of the trial). The course concludes with an overall appraisal of the extent to which contemporary English and Welsh criminal procedure adheres to the ideals of 'adversarialism'.

Comparative Law (paper 46)

Comparative law enables students to assess differences and similarities between legal systems in the Western World, mainly through a comparison between the English, French and German laws of contract and tort. The paper exposes students to the different contexts in which Judges and Parliament operate, and to the different methods of legal thinking characteristic of various Western legal systems.

Jurisprudence (Paper 37)

Jurisprudence is the study of the philosophy of law. This paper covers theories of law, the debates around legal positivism, and theories of justice and adjudication. Students will be asked to think about questions such as what is law? Is there a necessary core content for any legal system, and if so where does this come from? Are citizens obliged to obey the law, and if so why?

International Law (Paper 38)

Broadly speaking, International law refers to the rules and principles that govern the relations between states as well as international organisations and to some extent individuals. The course explores international law from a variety of perspectives. It examines the origins and sources of international law, as well as concepts such as statehood and self-determination from a legal perspective. It also looks at the law of treaties, the rules governing the use of force, how international law is used in English courts, when states can regulate persons and activities outside of their territory, state responsibility, and the International Court of Justice.

Human Rights Law (Paper 39)

Human Rights law is a major area of international, European and domestic law; an appreciation of its operation, possibilities and limits is of fundamental importance for any lawyer. This course examines the operation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998 and common law rights, and explores the role of rights in particular contexts, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, terrorism, modern slavery and human trafficking, migrants' rights, privacy, freedom of expression, protest and freedom of religion. It thus critically examines human rights adjudication within the European and domestic legal system.

Equity (Paper 40)

Equity is the name given to the branch of the law developed historically by the Court of Chancery as distinct from the courts of Common Law. Nowadays, there is one court system in which both common law rules and equitable principles are applied. The Cambridge course focuses exclusively on the most important creation of Equity, namely the trust, which is of great importance today. Students learn about the essential elements necessary for a valid trust, about the rights and obligations of trustees and trust beneficiaries, and the remedies for breach of trustees' duties. They discover the many rich and varied uses of the trust device in modern commercial dealings, as well as in the family context.

European Law (Paper 41)

This paper explores the objectives, structure and legal character of the European Union. It examines the EU's laws from a constitutional aspect, investigating the interplay between the political institutions in the EU's legislative process, and the issues this raises for the democratic legitimacy for the European Union. It also explores the EU's internal market from a legal perspective and the concept of EU citizenship.

Competition Law (Paper 42)

Competition law regulates the conduct of companies to maintain market competition, and as such combines the study of the law with economic principles. This paper focuses on European Union and UK competition law including their foundations, legislation and the complications associated with Brexit. It explores key principles such as vertical agreements, the abuse of dominance, and merger control.

Commercial Law (Paper 43)

Commercial law focuses on the laws, principles, and legal issues that pertain to commercial activity and the operation of businesses. It focuses on the law relating to how businesses operate through the use of agents (agency law), how businesses are financed (particularly the law of assignment and secured transactions) and how business transactions take place. The law relating to the commercial sale of goods is studied as an example of how commercial law has developed to enable parties to manage external and counterparty risks, while providing protection for third parties where appropriate.

Labour Law (Paper 44)

The study of labour law encompasses the legislation, principles and practices that protect the rights of workers. This paper deals with contract of employment, termination of employment, equality and prohibition of discrimination in the workplace, freedom of association (with particular attention to trade unions and associated legal rights such as collective bargaining and the laws around industrial action), as well as the history and methodology of studying labour law.

Intellectual Property (Paper 45)

This paper explores the principles and practices that comprise the law of copyright, trade marks (including passing off), and patents. It also examines the nature and objectives of intellectual property protection (i.e. the ownership of intangible goods) and the justifications for this protection, with attention to the themes of European harmonisation and international relations.

Company Law (Paper 46)

The paper in Company Law introduces students to the legal structures of businesses, and, in particular, focuses on the corporate form and the law and policy relevant to its separate legal personality. A key element of the course is an investigation into the governance environment surrounding companies, including the operation of the constitution of companies, the manner in which individuals can bind companies, and the duties which directors owe to their companies. The delineation of powers between shareholders and directors is also covered, including the rights and remedies open to shareholders. Finally, the capital maintenance rules that apply to companies are discussed. The course entails a mix of statutory law and the case law relevant to its interpretation, with all the individual topics coalescing into a broad understanding of the corporate form and its real-world relevance.

Aspects of Obligations (Paper 47)

This paper covers various advanced topics in private law beyond those studied in the foundation courses in tort and contract. Essentially it comprises an introduction to the law of unjust enrichment (restitution, subrogation, contribution and recoupment) and selected issues in advanced tort law (such as intentional economic torts, property torts, defamation, and public authority liability).

Conflict of Laws (Paper 48)

The Conflict of Laws, also known as private international law, deals with the international aspects in private disputes. It is concerned with the problems that arise when disputes before the English courts involve foreign parties, foreign laws or a foreign subject matter (as where a tort is committed or a contract is broken abroad), or where there are parallel proceedings in a foreign country, or where a judgment has already been obtained in a foreign court. It is concerned with which country's laws should govern liability, with whether an English court should hear a dispute with foreign elements, and with the circumstances in which an English court should give effect to a foreign judgment.

Tripos Paper 49 – seminars, half-papers and selected topics

Tripos Paper 49 encompasses a group of specialised papers offered by teaching members of the faculty based on their specialities and research interests. While the particular papers offered for Paper 49 vary from year to year, they allow for in-depth exploration of specific topics in law. Offerings in 2020-21 include: Banking Law, Civil Procedure, European Environmental and Sustainable Development Law, the Historical Foundations of the British Constitution, Landlord and Tenant Law, Law of Succession, Personal Information Law, and selected topics in European Legal History and Legal and Political Philosophy.