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Six degrees are available in Law, the B.A., LL.M., MCL, M.Litt, Ph.D. and LL.D. There are, in addition, the MPhil in Criminology, the MPhil in Criminological Research, the Diploma in Legal Studies, and the Diploma in International Law. The Freshfields Course is an additional research skills course studied by undergraduate law students.
The B.A. (Tripos) Degree
At Cambridge all first-degree courses, in whatever subject, lead to the BA Degree with Honours. In order to qualify for this degree, an undergraduate must pass two ‘Tripos’ examinations. (The word Tripos is derived from the three-legged stool used in former times at BA examinations.) These do not have to be in the same subject, and it is therefore possible to read a combination of two different subjects, taking them separately and in sequence; at present about 30 students every year change to law from other subjects. There are three Law Tripos examinations: Part IA, Part IB and Part II. Law IA and Law IB cannot be counted as two separate Tripos examinations to qualify for the BA. Law IA is taken at the end of the first year of residence. Law IB is taken in the second year by those who have passed Law IA, or by those changing into law from another Tripos. Law II is only for those who have passed Law IB. The BA requires three years of residence (two in the case of Affiliated Students, i.e. graduates of another university). Each Tripos is assessed by a board of examiners, assisted by assessors, who between them arrange the successful candidates into three classes, the second class being subdivided into upper and lower categories; a particularly good first class candidate may be awarded a mark of distinction. Because of the nature of the Tripos system, there is no combined examination result at the end of the course; each year of study is classed separately, and the BA itself is not classed.
There is an option of a two-year Part II in which one year is spent in a Continental Law School - the ERASMUS scheme. Under the present arrangement about 20 students are selected to study at one of the four partner law faculties: Poitiers (France), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Regensburg (Germany), and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain). Those taking this option spend four years studying for their BA in law rather than the usual three. It is not possible to apply at the outset for this four-year course as those students selected to participate in the scheme must first be assessed for their ability in law and proficiency in the language concerned.
The LL.M. Degree
This degree is awarded to successful candidates in the LL.M. examination which is taken at the end of a one-year taught course. It consists of four papers assessed generally by means of written examination or written examination and essay. One of the four papers may instead be taken by thesis. The examination is classed in a similar way to the Tripos; a candidate of exceptional merit in English law and legal history may be awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for English Law (founded by Prince Albert in 1855). The minimum entry requirement for the LL.M. is normally a First Class degree in law from a UK University, or the equivalent from an overseas institution.
The Masters of Corporate Law Degree
The Masters of Corporate Law (MCL) is designed for students seeking to engage in detailed study of the legal and regulatory framework within which companies are governed and financed. The MCL combines full year courses and one-term modules, with evaluation occurring primarily by written examination.
The University offers two one-year research courses which lead to either the Diploma in Legal Studies or the Diploma in International Law, depending on the nature of the topic of research. Each candidate is assigned a supervisor by the Faculty’s Degree Committee and is required to keep at least three terms of residence before submitting for examination a dissertation not exceeding 30,000 words in length inclusive of footnotes but exclusive of appendices and bibliography. There is no coursework or taught element, although students may attend lectures as recommended by their supervisor. The year of research leading to a Diploma may, in appropriate circumstances, be counted towards the requirements of a research degree. It is not possible to undertake the Diploma in Legal Studies or the Diploma in International Law on a part-time basis.
The University offers two research degrees in Law: the MLitt or the Ph.D. Candidates are registered, in the first instance, for the Certificate of Postgraduate Study in Legal Studies and, at the end of the first year, are required to submit three items for a progress review: the personal progress log, a 15,000 word dissertation, and a short explanation of the proposed topic of Ph.D or MLitt research. The first-year progress review is undertaken by two assessors, normally the supervisor and another member of the Faculty of Law. An oral examination is held and, if candidates successfully complete the requirements of the Certificate and the first year progress review, they are retrospectively registered for either the MLitt or the Ph.D. Candidates registered for the MLitt are required to submit, after two years of research, a dissertation not exceeding 60,000 words inclusive of footnotes but exclusive of appendices and bibliography. Candidates registered for the Ph.D are required to submit, after three years of research, a dissertation not exceeding 80,000 words exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography. The candidate is required to attend an oral examination. It is not possible to undertake a research degree in Law on a part-time basis.
The LL.D. may be awarded to established scholars who have given 'proof of distinction by some original contribution to the advancement of the science or study of law', almost invariably in the form of published works and who meet the eligibility criteria for the degree.