Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

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Law Faculty, St Cross Building

The Faculty of Law, Oxford is the law school of the University of Oxford. It is considered to be one of the very best law schools in the world and is currently ranked second in the world. [1]

Oxford has a history of over 800 years of teaching and writing law.[2] It is unique in its use of personalised tutorials, in which students are taught by faculty fellows in groups of one to three on a weekly basis,[3] as the main form of instruction in its undergraduate and graduate courses. It offers the largest doctoral programme in Law in the English-speaking world.[4]


There were faculties of Civil Law and Canon Law in the medieval University. During the Reformation, Henry VIII prohibited the teaching of Canon Law, instead founding the Regius Chair of Civil Law, one of the oldest Professorships at the University of Oxford. From then until the 19th century, the University awarded the Bachelor of Civil Law and the Doctor of Civil Law, through the Faculty of Civil Law.

William Blackstone, a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford and subsequently a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, was appointed the inaugural Vinerian Professor of English Law in 1758, and was the first professor at any university to teach the common law. His lectures formed the basis for his Commentaries on the Laws of England, a definitive source of and case for the study of the English common law.[5][6][7]

It was not until the 1870s that Oxford offered a degree in English law, the BA in Jurisprudence. Not long after, Cornelia Sorabji was the first woman to read Law at Oxford in 1889.[8][9] In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were prominent professors in Oxford such as Frederick Pollock, William Anson, and Albert Dicey. The emergence of a large community of legal scholars in twenty-five men's colleges can be dated from the 1920s and 1930s, but the development was consolidated in the 1950s and 1960s, when Law Fellowships also became common in the women's colleges.[tone] The Oxford law school flourished through the operation of the resulting internal market, and through the brilliance of particular leading scholars such as H. L. A. Hart, Rupert Cross, Tony Honoré, John Morris, Peter Carter, and others.[10]

In the twentieth century, the BCL became a master's level degree; and, by the 1970s, Oxford developed a large graduate programme in law. The DPhil in Law, which dates to the 1910s, became popular at that time particularly in international law, comparative law, and philosophy of law; after the 1970s, the areas of research pursued in the doctoral programme broadened to make it a general training ground for legal academics.


Research centres[edit]

The Faculty has a number of research centres:

Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP)[edit]

The Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) is an organisation consisting of graduate law students and members of faculty to provide high-quality comparative law research, gratis, for lawyers acting pro bono around the world as well as promoting pro bono law in general.[11]


St Cross Building[edit]

St Cross Building from St Cross Road

The Law Faculty offices are situated in the St Cross Building, which is a Grade II listed building, designed by the late Sir John Leslie Martin (architect of the Royal Festival Hall in London) and Colin St John Wilson (architect of the New British Library). The St Cross Building is also home to the Bodleian Law Library.[12]

Bodleian Law Library[edit]

The Bodleian Law Library

The Bodleian Law Library was opened in 1964 and holds over 450,000 volumes. It is a Legal Deposit Library, allowing it to claim a copy of any printed legal material published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. It is also an official Documentation Centre for the European Union.[13]

Notable individuals[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

The following notable individuals have read law at the Faculty of Law, Oxford.





  • Business
    • Allan Myers QC, Australia's wealthiest barrister[14]

Notable academics[edit]

The following notable individuals are or have been academics of the Faculty of Law, Oxford.


External links[edit]