Sunday, 13 July 2008

Cambridge FAQ

Can you do a law conversion at Cambridge?
Yes - at Cambridge it's known as a 'Senior Status' Law degree (B.A.), and it condenses the three year undergraduate into two. At the end of the course, you'll be qualified to the same extent as a normal undergrad. (provided you take certain modules) meaning you can go straight on to take the one year LPC (Legal Practice Course for solicitors) or BVC (Bar Vocational Course for barristers). It's also eligible to turn into the Cambridge MA.

How do I apply?
Unlike other universities, for the Senior Status the application process is not done through a separate online or paper form, but instead through UCAS, using the same course code (M100) as the three year undergraduate. Before 2009, applicants were required to fill in a CAF (Cambridge Application Form) as well as the UCAS, but these have been discontinued. Now applicants will submit their UCAS, and then be sent a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) will fulfill a similar purpose - this is how applicants will specify they wish to follow the two year course, rather than the three year route.

What are the admissions criteria?
For Home students, you must have already completed/be in the process of completing an undergraduate degree. Different colleges ask for different degree classifications - most of the undergraduate colleges specify a 1st class, whilst others have no information on their websites - but the minimum offer is likely to be at least a 2.i. You will have to organise two referees to provide references and you must also sit the LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law) before submitting your UCAS, the latter of which must be received by the 15th of October.

My GCSEs/A-levels aren't really 'Cambridge standard' - do I still have a chance?
Definitely, offers are based completely on what you should/have achieve(d) in your degree; A-levels and GCSEs play no part in the selection process, although you will have to disclose them in your UCAS application and SAQ.

What are they looking for in my personal statement?
There is nothing particular that one should mention; if you sell yourself well, and can express your interest in the law/why you want to study it then you have a good a chance as any. There is no need to have any legal work experience to gain a place, although this obviously looks impressive if you have bothered to try and attain some before applying.

Which colleges can I apply to?
You are free to apply to any of the undergraduate colleges or to make an open application (specify no particular college).
If you will be 21 by the time the term starts, then you may also want to consider applying to one of the four graduate colleges which house affiliates; Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish (women only), St Edmunds or Wolfson. Clare Hall and Darwin are the remaining two graduate colleges, but they do not offer the affiliated course.

How should I go about choosing my college?
The best way to narrow down which colleges you may be interested in is to create a list of your priorities - do you want to be guaranteed accommodation for the duration of your course?, do you want to be near to the law facility?, do you want to be with others of a similar age?
If you wish to be with other affiliates, the best option is to apply to one of the graduate colleges as they will have the highest number of applicants. You can view the statistics for the past four years here although it will only work for the graduate colleges, as no distinction is made between the three year or two year course for the undergraduate ones. This is also a useful document.
Everyone has different reasons for choosing their college; if you are sure to research all the possibilities, then you will be able to make the best choice.

Will I have to go to interview?
Yes, if you are a Home student; regardless of which college you select, you will have to be invited for interview before an offer is made. Interview procedures differ from college to college, but it is likely that you will have both a General and a Subject interview. The former may explore questions raised by your personal statement, your interest in Cambridge and what you hope to achieve in the future; the latter will deal solely with law and legal issues, it is highly probable that you will be set some sort of test or asked to interpret something.
This is nothing to worry about however; your college will inform you of the interview set-up, and it is likely that you need do no more special preparation for this part than you would do for the LNAT.
If you are an International, depending on where you are situated, you may still be required to come to Cambridge for an interview, or it could be conducted over the phone. It again depends on the individual college.

Can I get funding?
Unfortunately, there are no student loans available for a second undergraduate degree. For international/EU affiliates, a small number of awards are made by the Gates Cambridge Trust but for Home students there is no official funding, aside from investigating the various bursaries and awards that are offered by individual colleges.

What are the mandatory modules you mentioned?
Year 1 (Tripos IB)
1. Constitutional Law
2. Law of Tort
3. Law of Contract
4. Land Law
5. Equity or EU Law

Year 2 (Tripos II)
1. Criminal Law
2. Equity or EU Law
3, 4, & 5. Various options

In terms of fitting two years work into three the website says, "...the usual pattern would be to take Tripos IB at the end of the first year and Tripos II at the end of the second year"; instead of the regular undergraduate route, "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, so it seems that the first Tripos is omitted completely. However, it could potentially be combined as the page also says, "Law IA and Law IB cannot be counted as two separate Tripos examinations to qualify for the B.A.".

You haven't answered my question here, what should I do?
If you're an international student, or have a specific question I haven't covered, the best port of call is going to be the specific college you hope to apply to - they will be the authority on admissions criteria, interviews etc, so the easiest thing to do is to send them a short email with your query.

Things to remember

  • Be aware of LNAT opening deadlines; they are very close to the October UCAS closing deadline, so you should sign up as soon as the LNAT opens in September.
    Be aware of the date that the UCAS for your year of application opens. It's easy to accidentally start filling in the form on the old (year before) build, not realising they haven't released the new one yet.
  • Think about your personal statement.
  • Start researching colleges.
  • You might want to prep. your two referees for the references that you'll need. As you'll be applying as a private student, you have to do the work of organising references for yourself.


Anonymous said...

Great post, I'm thinking about applying to Cambridge for senior status law degree. I am currently writing up my personal statement but I'm not sure whether I should write about my A-levels in this as well or concentrate more about my degree and how it suits law?


Cambridge Affiliated said...

Hi Anon

As with any application form, unless things in your past are particularly relevant, I'd say it's probably better to focus on your most recent accomplishments. Feel free to mention your A-levels briefly, but remember that these were three years ago now, and they will be looking to see how/what you have achieved/learnt at degree level in order to assess your ability to handle quite a rigorous course. Hope this helps, and best of luck!