Your first ‘public’ (i.e. university-wide) examinations occur at the end of the second term of your first year. These examinations are officially entitled ‘Law Moderations’ (normally abbreviated to ‘Law Mods’). The subjects for Law Mods are Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and A Roman Introduction to Private Law.
It is necessary to pass Law Mods in order to continue with your academic studies, and you will find that your time from when you come into residence in October to the taking of the examinations the following March is fully taken up with your preparation for them. You should keep in mind that you will need a substantial amount of time for extra reading and revision during the Christmas vacation. At Oxford the terms are short (eight weeks) and the vacations long, and to make the most of the course you will need to do a good deal of serious reading in the vacations.
You do not need to do a great deal of preparation before you come to Balliol; your tutors will help you acquire the skills and techniques that you need once you are here. We do suggest some background reading:
- Introduction to the Legal System: There is no course at Oxford that is designed specifically to introduce students to the fundamental features of the English legal system. Instead, knowledge of basic aspects of the legal system is acquired throughout your degree. However, it would be worthwhile undertaking some preliminary readings about law and the legal system generally. We recommend Nicholas J McBride, Letters to a Law Student 4th edn (Pearson UK, 2017) or Glanville Williams: Learning the Law, 16th Edition, by ATH Smith (Sweet & Maxwell 2016).
- Constitutional Law: It may be useful to read Adam Tomkins, Public Law (Clarendon Press, 2003), chapters 1-4. (You can also see what constitutional lawyers are saying (and the ways in which they are disagreeing) on the UK Constitutional Law blog). You could also read Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law (Penguin, 2011).
- Criminal Law: A helpful introduction to issues questions by criminal law can be found in Jonathan Herring, Great Debates in Criminal Law, 4th edition (Palgrave, 2020), chapters 1-6.
- Roman Law: B. Nicholas, Introduction to Roman Law (Clarendon Press, 1962) pages 1-45.
In reading these books, do not try to memorise lots of facts or rules. Aim for a general grasp of the sorts of problems and issues that arise in each subject area.
If I can be of any further assistance, do get in touch.
Grant Lamond, Tutor in Law