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What is an essay question?
Essay questions typically ask candidates to consider a statement of opinion and to discuss it, giving reasons for their answer. This may be done by (as in the first question below) asking for discussion of a quotation or (as in the second question) asking a direct question.
What are we looking for?
Although our essay questions refer to law-related matters, as can be seen from the examples below, that does not mean that we expect, or are looking for, knowledge of the law. Applicants who have studied or are studying law (for example at A-level) will therefore not be at an advantage over others. Each question is intended to solicit applicants’ views rather than to invite the provision of factual information. In particular, our essay questions are designed to test applicants’ ability to identify and engage with the issues raised by the question; to write clearly; and to construct a coherent, well-structured and balanced argument.
- “Judges should be given no discretion in sentencing criminals: all criminal penalties should be fixed by statute. The exercise of discretion in sentencing requires an exercise of moral judgment by the judge, and judges in a modern democracy should not be allowed to exercise moral authority over their fellow citizens.” How far do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.
- Should people be regarded as having fundamental moral rights, quite independently of law? If so, how should we decide what those rights are? Give reasons for your answer.