Oxford v Cambridge


fg

I am deciding between doing my doctorate at either Oxford or Cambridge and thought it might be good to start a thread where we can discuss the various merits of each. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Here are my impressions so far (please feel free to correct them):

OXFORD: Strong focus on legal theory/jurisprudence; excellent reputation for graduate study due to BCL; impressive faculty; larger town than Cambridge with more going on; gothic oppressive architecture; snotty/arrogrant; potential harsh intellectual treatment of DPhil students in order to develop "rigour"; long history of politicians and writers etc graduating from there.

CAMBRIDGE: Strong focus on international law and administrative law; weak on legal theory; easier to get into; friendlier; beautiful renaissance architecture; tiny town; a real university town; very supportive of PhD students; stronger in sciences than arts.

Thoughts?

I am deciding between doing my doctorate at either Oxford or Cambridge and thought it might be good to start a thread where we can discuss the various merits of each. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Here are my impressions so far (please feel free to correct them):

OXFORD: Strong focus on legal theory/jurisprudence; excellent reputation for graduate study due to BCL; impressive faculty; larger town than Cambridge with more going on; gothic oppressive architecture; snotty/arrogrant; potential harsh intellectual treatment of DPhil students in order to develop "rigour"; long history of politicians and writers etc graduating from there.

CAMBRIDGE: Strong focus on international law and administrative law; weak on legal theory; easier to get into; friendlier; beautiful renaissance architecture; tiny town; a real university town; very supportive of PhD students; stronger in sciences than arts.

Thoughts?
quote

Flygirl, I agree with the above. I think the only considerations for you are:
1)area of proposed study: jurisprudence, then OX; International law, then Cantab; if it's in another area or a blending of the two, then investigate individual professors at each school, read some of their articles, perhaps shoot them a few emails elucidating your proposed concentration, and base your decision on the enquiries (and the unquantifiable but very real and important 'feel' you get.
2)money. tuition, college fees, scholarships, etc...

These in my view are the only crieria: any differecne in reputation is very marginal and frankly moot (nobody would hire or not hire you over another candidate because you went ot ox over cantab or vice versa).
And the other factors you mentions above, while interesting, won't alone or in combination amount to a hill of beans when it really comes down to decision making.

Flygirl, I agree with the above. I think the only considerations for you are:
1)area of proposed study: jurisprudence, then OX; International law, then Cantab; if it's in another area or a blending of the two, then investigate individual professors at each school, read some of their articles, perhaps shoot them a few emails elucidating your proposed concentration, and base your decision on the enquiries (and the unquantifiable but very real and important 'feel' you get.
2)money. tuition, college fees, scholarships, etc...

These in my view are the only crieria: any differecne in reputation is very marginal and frankly moot (nobody would hire or not hire you over another candidate because you went ot ox over cantab or vice versa).
And the other factors you mentions above, while interesting, won't alone or in combination amount to a hill of beans when it really comes down to decision making.
quote
fg

Thanks so much for the reply, ED : )

It is tricky because my area is administrative law AND jurisprudence - if only I could combine the two faculties... There is definitely more collective interest around administrative law at Cantab but I worry that it is more doctrinal than theoretical. But I guess at the end of the day I can always read what the ppl at Oxford say but study in Cambridge which is nicer apparently. My mentor at home said definitely Cambridge as Oxford is a nasty place. Very subjective and vague, of course, but I would hate to be in a place that was nasty no matter how good its faculty was. And sometimes what you like about a place is only a gut feeling at the end of the day.

I would be interested to hear if anyone else is having the same dilemma and which they think they will choose and why.

Thanks so much for the reply, ED : )

It is tricky because my area is administrative law AND jurisprudence - if only I could combine the two faculties... There is definitely more collective interest around administrative law at Cantab but I worry that it is more doctrinal than theoretical. But I guess at the end of the day I can always read what the ppl at Oxford say but study in Cambridge which is nicer apparently. My mentor at home said definitely Cambridge as Oxford is a nasty place. Very subjective and vague, of course, but I would hate to be in a place that was nasty no matter how good its faculty was. And sometimes what you like about a place is only a gut feeling at the end of the day.

I would be interested to hear if anyone else is having the same dilemma and which they think they will choose and why.
quote
jarndyce

I've got offers for the ox BCL and cam LLM, and i'm going to ox (if i get the grades) - partly because i did my undergrad at ox and so have some friends there still, and partly because of the reputation, which seems to add a little more lustre to the cv than cambridge.

I don't have much to add to what you say about specialisation, which is obviously important at dphil/phd level. but i'm a bit wary of your mentor's comments about the atmosphere. i think it is easy to mistake academic rigour for nastiness/arrogance. my experience of oxford academically (in classics not law i'm afraid, but still illustrative of the place i think) was that it was unflinchingly meritocratic - if you had something interesting to say, people would listen; if you didn't, people would ignore you. i think this approach, while it might seem harsh sometimes, is more rewarding in the long run.

as regards a place to live in, i live near cambridge and i agree if you want beauty and homeliness, cam's the place, while ox's a bit more pomp and grandeur.

all hopelessly subjective and vague of course! perhaps see you amongst the dreaming spires next year

I've got offers for the ox BCL and cam LLM, and i'm going to ox (if i get the grades) - partly because i did my undergrad at ox and so have some friends there still, and partly because of the reputation, which seems to add a little more lustre to the cv than cambridge.

I don't have much to add to what you say about specialisation, which is obviously important at dphil/phd level. but i'm a bit wary of your mentor's comments about the atmosphere. i think it is easy to mistake academic rigour for nastiness/arrogance. my experience of oxford academically (in classics not law i'm afraid, but still illustrative of the place i think) was that it was unflinchingly meritocratic - if you had something interesting to say, people would listen; if you didn't, people would ignore you. i think this approach, while it might seem harsh sometimes, is more rewarding in the long run.

as regards a place to live in, i live near cambridge and i agree if you want beauty and homeliness, cam's the place, while ox's a bit more pomp and grandeur.

all hopelessly subjective and vague of course! perhaps see you amongst the dreaming spires next year
quote
prii

hi HughF, is the Oxford BCL more highly regarded than the Oxford BA (law)?

hi HughF, is the Oxford BCL more highly regarded than the Oxford BA (law)?
quote
Vanquish

Hi,

Just out of curiousity does anyone have any idea whether work experience is essential for admission into either of these doctrate programs? Do they take in fresh LLMs who have not done the Bar?

Additonally,does Oxford have professors whose research interests include German Idealism (Kant et al). Unlike the Cambridge website, Oxford doesn't list the particular area of jurisprudence each professor is interested in, so if anyone is doing a Dphil now, your insight would be most helpful.

Thanks

Hi,

Just out of curiousity does anyone have any idea whether work experience is essential for admission into either of these doctrate programs? Do they take in fresh LLMs who have not done the Bar?

Additonally,does Oxford have professors whose research interests include German Idealism (Kant et al). Unlike the Cambridge website, Oxford doesn't list the particular area of jurisprudence each professor is interested in, so if anyone is doing a Dphil now, your insight would be most helpful.

Thanks
quote
Ie

Well, I might have a similar choice. I received conditional offers from both Camb (LLM) and Ox (MJur). No info on scholarships yet (which would certainly help to decide). I'm interested in European Law and Intellectual Property, perhaps I'd like to take also some corporate governance cource (but more with comperative or European perspective, not UK). Does anybody have any suggestions for these subjects - which choice would be better?

Well, I might have a similar choice. I received conditional offers from both Camb (LLM) and Ox (MJur). No info on scholarships yet (which would certainly help to decide). I'm interested in European Law and Intellectual Property, perhaps I'd like to take also some corporate governance cource (but more with comperative or European perspective, not UK). Does anybody have any suggestions for these subjects - which choice would be better?
quote
Zelda

Whereas for a master's course the BCL/MJur is generally regarded to be more rigorous than the LLM, for a PhD/DPhil I would decide only on the basis of who your future supervisor(s) are going to be.
Oxon is definitely THE place for jurisprudence, and there are also outstanding scholars in administrative/public law (e.g. Craig).
But at the end of the day, it is not the NUMBER of people doing research in your area you are interested in, but your particular supervisor(s).

The haughtiness/snottiness factor is very subjective and is more of an undergraduate/English thing anyway; the atmosphere in the graduate community is very different. It might also depend on the college.

Whereas for a master's course the BCL/MJur is generally regarded to be more rigorous than the LLM, for a PhD/DPhil I would decide only on the basis of who your future supervisor(s) are going to be.
Oxon is definitely THE place for jurisprudence, and there are also outstanding scholars in administrative/public law (e.g. Craig).
But at the end of the day, it is not the NUMBER of people doing research in your area you are interested in, but your particular supervisor(s).

The haughtiness/snottiness factor is very subjective and is more of an undergraduate/English thing anyway; the atmosphere in the graduate community is very different. It might also depend on the college.
quote
Catullus

good afternoon, all, I'd like to refer to the above question pertaining to regard of the Oxford BCL compared with regard for the Oxford BA in law -- I'm curious about the differences in perception from the standpoint of the states and abroad.

gratias ago tibi.

good afternoon, all, I'd like to refer to the above question pertaining to regard of the Oxford BCL compared with regard for the Oxford BA in law -- I'm curious about the differences in perception from the standpoint of the states and abroad.

gratias ago tibi.
quote
jane.lin

Whereas for a master's course the BCL/MJur is generally regarded to be more rigorous than the LLM, for a PhD/DPhil I would decide only on the basis of who your future supervisor(s) are going to be.
Oxon is definitely THE place for jurisprudence, and there are also outstanding scholars in administrative/public law (e.g. Craig).
But at the end of the day, it is not the NUMBER of people doing research in your area you are interested in, but your particular supervisor(s).


Good point! That's exactly what I want to say. I plan to apply for PhD next year.If I were in sush situation,I would compare the academic performance and my feeling of the future supervisiors .I would like to choose a supervisor that I really admire acemically and also I am hopelly to have a good relationship with.

<blockquote>Whereas for a master's course the BCL/MJur is generally regarded to be more rigorous than the LLM, for a PhD/DPhil I would decide only on the basis of who your future supervisor(s) are going to be.
Oxon is definitely THE place for jurisprudence, and there are also outstanding scholars in administrative/public law (e.g. Craig).
But at the end of the day, it is not the NUMBER of people doing research in your area you are interested in, but your particular supervisor(s).</blockquote>

Good point! That's exactly what I want to say. I plan to apply for PhD next year.If I were in sush situation,I would compare the academic performance and my feeling of the future supervisiors .I would like to choose a supervisor that I really admire acemically and also I am hopelly to have a good relationship with.
quote
fg

i think it is easy to mistake academic rigour for nastiness/arrogance. my experience of oxford academically (in classics not law i'm afraid, but still illustrative of the place i think) was that it was unflinchingly meritocratic - if you had something interesting to say, people would listen; if you didn't, people would ignore you. i think this approach


This is an interesting point about Oxford and to a degree you may be correct. My experience in the US though is that whoever is loudest, most confident, or presents themselves the best is deemed the most "interesting" or "intelligent." What is interesting heavily depends on presentation not substance.

<blockquote>i think it is easy to mistake academic rigour for nastiness/arrogance. my experience of oxford academically (in classics not law i'm afraid, but still illustrative of the place i think) was that it was unflinchingly meritocratic - if you had something interesting to say, people would listen; if you didn't, people would ignore you. i think this approach</blockquote>

This is an interesting point about Oxford and to a degree you may be correct. My experience in the US though is that whoever is loudest, most confident, or presents themselves the best is deemed the most "interesting" or "intelligent." What is interesting heavily depends on presentation not substance.
quote
fg

...

...
quote
fg

Since I am really not in the mood for work at the moment and this decision is much more important, have you seen this:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/universityguide2005/table/0,,-5163903,00.html?view=0

Since I am really not in the mood for work at the moment and this decision is much more important, have you seen this:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/universityguide2005/table/0,,-5163903,00.html?view=0
quote

See, and that's the problem with rankings.
Differences between ox and cantab, negligeble. You could go back and forth all day, just like the harvard -yale debate. All are top tier.
But there are in my view indisputablly tiers that must be respected in such discussions, and it's more than a little goofy to suggest manchester over cam, isn't it??
I don't even think that it belongs in the comparator group, frankly.

See, and that's the problem with rankings.
Differences between ox and cantab, negligeble. You could go back and forth all day, just like the harvard -yale debate. All are top tier.
But there are in my view indisputablly tiers that must be respected in such discussions, and it's more than a little goofy to suggest manchester over cam, isn't it??
I don't even think that it belongs in the comparator group, frankly.
quote
fg

heh, I try not to pay too much attention to rankings for that reason also. It is a conscious choice since I think my natural instinct is to care about them but I'd rather not live my life according to someone's external view of what I am doing. It is more relaxing that way.
The whole debate on the Harvard forum is a gross indication of how rankings can skew one's perspective/view of reality/priorities.
I have spent a while today emailing people to ask about their views and the general feeling is that Cambridge is a friendlier, more colleagial place.

heh, I try not to pay too much attention to rankings for that reason also. It is a conscious choice since I think my natural instinct is to care about them but I'd rather not live my life according to someone's external view of what I am doing. It is more relaxing that way.
The whole debate on the Harvard forum is a gross indication of how rankings can skew one's perspective/view of reality/priorities.
I have spent a while today emailing people to ask about their views and the general feeling is that Cambridge is a friendlier, more colleagial place.
quote

Flygirl, I agree that posting is more fun than working (hence my eager participation today).
I think you should email your advisors (you indicated earlier that you knew who would be acting as your advisdor at each, right?) and propose a certain course of research and /or position and see the responses you get.
Whoever writes back faster, more warmly, with more insight, and at the same time seems genuinely interested in your idea/position (regardeklss of the merits), well that person probably has the makings of a better advisor....

Flygirl, I agree that posting is more fun than working (hence my eager participation today).
I think you should email your advisors (you indicated earlier that you knew who would be acting as your advisdor at each, right?) and propose a certain course of research and /or position and see the responses you get.
Whoever writes back faster, more warmly, with more insight, and at the same time seems genuinely interested in your idea/position (regardeklss of the merits), well that person probably has the makings of a better advisor....
quote
fg

Good idea!
But I might feel bad emailing them and then turning the school down...I have a feeling I know who will reply first too...I will see if I can come up with a suitable email. Thanks for the advice.

This is totally silly but I think i am going to go completely on general atmosphere and instinct - I have had really really nice emails back from the students at Cambridge...

Good idea!
But I might feel bad emailing them and then turning the school down...I have a feeling I know who will reply first too...I will see if I can come up with a suitable email. Thanks for the advice.

This is totally silly but I think i am going to go completely on general atmosphere and instinct - I have had really really nice emails back from the students at Cambridge...
quote
Zelda

I worry that Paul Craig at Oxford, for example, is too overburdened since most of the administrative law thinking there centers around him...


Flygirl, being supervised by Paul Craig is every girl's dream...

<blockquote> I worry that Paul Craig at Oxford, for example, is too overburdened since most of the administrative law thinking there centers around him...</blockquote>

Flygirl, being supervised by Paul Craig is every girl's dream...
quote
fg

Heh, thanks very much. He was just an example.

Heh, thanks very much. He was just an example.
quote
forever

Dear Colleagues:

I received offers from Cambridge, Oxford (MJur) and LSE. To decide between these universities is very difficult, especially if you are "continental law oriented" and from a country that does not have a tradition of college's life and tutorials. I'd appreciate your opinions on the following:
LSE: the main advantage is the wide variety of courses, especially in the area of Corporate and Commercial Law; the disadvantages in relation to Oxbridge are the costs and the reputation (despite the fact that the Professors of Corporate Law are the most renowned in UK and abroad);
Oxford: the advantage and disadvantage are the tutorials; if you are an experienced student, I think that the program would be a little bit boring, so that you can't be free in order to study what you really think that its important the analysis of the importance of sth will depend on your relation with your tutor; however, the assessments are stricter than others similar courses, requiring more study and seriousness; other advantage is the number of students, which is considerably low in relation to Camtab and LSE. But, I don't know if the reputation of MJur is the equivalent to the BCL's
Cambridge: apart from the high quality of the course, Camtab is the cheapest program - if you consider the costs of the tuition, college fees and living expenses; in the area of Corporate and Commercial Law, the Professors are also renewed in UK and abroad; additionally, it permits you a more mature study, without the pressure of the tutors, unless you intend to present a thesis...
Bear this in mind, I'm confused, but I tend to go to Cambridge... But Ive changed my mind many times during this weekend!!!
However, I think that my final decision will depend on the colleges' offer...
Flygirl and ED: I appreciate your opinions on this I consider your discussions very elucidative for prospective students like me.

Dear Colleagues:

I received offers from Cambridge, Oxford (MJur) and LSE. To decide between these universities is very difficult, especially if you are "continental law oriented" and from a country that does not have a tradition of college's life and tutorials. I'd appreciate your opinions on the following:
LSE: the main advantage is the wide variety of courses, especially in the area of Corporate and Commercial Law; the disadvantages in relation to Oxbridge are the costs and the reputation (despite the fact that the Professors of Corporate Law are the most renowned in UK and abroad);
Oxford: the advantage and disadvantage are the tutorials; if you are an experienced student, I think that the program would be a little bit boring, so that you can't be free in order to study what you really think that it’s important – the analysis of the importance of sth will depend on your relation with your tutor; however, the assessments are stricter than others similar courses, requiring more study and seriousness; other advantage is the number of students, which is considerably low in relation to Camtab and LSE. But, I don't know if the reputation of MJur is the equivalent to the BCL's…
Cambridge: apart from the high quality of the course, Camtab is the cheapest program - if you consider the costs of the tuition, college fees and living expenses; in the area of Corporate and Commercial Law, the Professors are also renewed in UK and abroad; additionally, it permits you a more mature study, without the pressure of the tutors, unless you intend to present a thesis...
Bear this in mind, I'm confused, but I tend to go to Cambridge... But I’ve changed my mind many times during this weekend!!!
However, I think that my final decision will depend on the colleges' offer...
Flygirl and ED: I appreciate your opinions on this – I consider your discussions very elucidative for prospective students like me.
quote

Reply to Post

Related Law Schools

Oxford, United Kingdom 788 Followers 807 Discussions
Cambridge, United Kingdom 742 Followers 725 Discussions

Other Related Content

LL.M. Application Deadlines for Fall 2020 - Law Schools in the UK & Ireland

News Sep 30, 2019