I recently got accepted into the Masters programme in Law at the University of Oxford (i.e. the Oxford BCL) and this post will be sharing major tips for anyone seeking an academic career at the University of Oxford.
The Oxford BCL is a world-renowned taught graduate course in law, designed to serve outstanding law students from common law backgrounds. It is truly world leading – the best LLM-level course in the world.
“The Oxford BCL has been a pivotal feature of Oxford’s law provision since the sixteenth century. This rich history has helped to maintain its status as the most highly regarded taught masters-level qualification in the common law world.” -Mindy Chen-Wishart, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies (Oxford).
Tips on your Oxford Graduate Application!
- Believe!The first thing to do when applying to Oxford is to believe that you can actually get in. Anything is possible, and don’t allow anyone tell you differently. Apply! You have what it takes to get in! And all it takes is that first step. So ignore anyone’s negativity and take the first step of applying! And you’d be amazed at what happens.
- Don’t rush your application, start on time- The Oxford Masters application is one of the longest graduate applications you’d ever come across, and for good reason too- it’s Oxford. It’s really long, so it’s in your best interest to start it on time. Don’t leave it to the last minute. There are a number of requirements such as references, your personal statement and even a 3000 word written essay! So you need to have ample time to complete your application and submit it before the deadline.
- Every little detail counts– With Oxford, the application process is so competitive; there are so many people applying for very limited places. For example, with the Masters in law programme (i.e. the Oxford BCL), five hundred and fifty people apply every year but there are only ninety places available on the course. So don’t take any part of your application for granted. Pay attention to every detail so that your application stands out from the pack.
- References– With choosing your referees, there are two factors that are important i) Make sure your referee knows you well enough and ii) Have a referee that is of high repute. The first point is to get a referee that knows you quite well; this is because the application decision is very dependant on your academic capabilities. They want to know how outstanding you are, so you need referees that know you well enough to give them a very good indication of your academic performance while you were at university. So I’d advise, someone like your academic tutor. For Oxford, you would need three referees for your application. My second point is to get a referee of high repute. This is because, a reference from a tutor of a course at your university will not hold the same reverence as a reference from the head of school for example. So get a referee who is quite known for their contribution to legal academia; for example, a teacher who is a well published author or one who holds a senior position. However, make sure your referee has an idea of your academic capabilities. If you can get a professor of some standing who also knows you quite well, then that’s awesome. Most importantly, make sure your referees say that you’re a great student!
- Essay– For the Oxford Masters in law programme (the Oxford BCL), you are to submit a 3000-word essay on any legal topic. In essence, you are to provide a sample of your written work. The assessors want to know how you write and whether you write at a level that matches the standard of Oxford. With the essay, I’d say, take one of your best essays on a subject you enjoy and improve it. Something from your first degree will be suitable. Ask someone to look at it again until you’re happy with it. If you don’t have an essay that you’re particularly proud of, write a fresh one. It goes without saying that they will be impressed by clear, analytic as against descriptive essays.
- Personal Statement– Like most graduate applications, you are also required to submit a personal statement with your application. I’d say the most difficult part about the personal statement is that you are only given 300 words. Essentially, you have only one page to sell yourself. This means that you have to make your personal statement as focused and clear as possible. A useful guide to enable you do this is to make sure your statement covers the following points: i) why you are outstanding ii) why you want to do the programme iii) what attracts you to the course rather than other courses iv) what specific modules attract you v) what you will contribute- essentially what skills you will bring v) what your future career plans are and how the programme will play a role in enabling you achieve them. As long as you are able to outline these points, and be as brief and clear as possible, you should be fine!
- Colleges! In terms of colleges, if you have any particular college preferences, then make sure you specify this on your application. However, your college choice does not affect the faculty’s decision; if you are not given a place by the college you choose, you will automatically get placed in another college, so it’s all good still.
- Deadlines! Be sure to take note of the application deadlines, they are very important. Most of the deadlines for Graduate programmes at Oxford are in January, so you have to start your application on time. Also, make sure you inform your referees quite early, so they can provide the reference in time before the deadlines.
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