Social Sciences

Table of Contents




Bodleian Law Library, Christ Church Library, Christ Church Law Library.

Course Structure:

In year 1, term 1 and two, the course structure is as follows:

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • A Roman introduction to private law
  • Research skills and mooting programme

For those on Course II, there are also French/German/Italian/Spanish law and language classes during the first six terms, or, for those going to the Netherlands, introductory Dutch language courses in the second year.

In the last term of year 1 and in years 2 and 3, you will learn the following:

  • Tort law
  • Contract law
  • Trusts
  • Land law
  • Administrative law
  • European Union law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Two optional subjects, chosen from a very wide range of options

Course II: Year 3 is spent abroad


To learn more about studying Law at Oxford, click here:

Here is a guide about resources for Law students:


  • The reading list may be a bit intimidating at first. Your tutor is there to help you prioritise readings so that you are looking at cases, articles and chapters that are relevant to the topics you will be covering.
  • Read actively so that you are learning, rather than regurgitating, the new information you are encountering.
  • Keep your readings well organised- this is important given how much you will read.

Reading and writing case reports:

Here are some tips to reading case reports, according to St Peter’s College ‘Law Freshers Survival Kit’:

  • Case reports are a fundamental part of learning the law and interpreting them quickly and effectively will be a skill you develop with practice.
  • Some parts of a case report may be more relevant than others, so read with the tutorial topic in mind.
  • The vast majority of the cases are online and during your introductory session to the Law Library, you will learn how to use key databases such as LexisNexis.
  • The headnote of a case is the summary of the facts and the held, which is the summary of the decision and reasons made by the judge. It is useful to write this down in your own words and shorten it, where possible.
  • Do not note down facts until you have read the held and the judgment.
  • Write down facts from the perspective of the law.
  • When reading the judgment, you can often skip the description of the facts if you have read the summary. Make sure you understand the principles of law which have been used to make a judgment- noting this down succinctly is important.
  • Try to make your notes as concise and relevant as possible, keeping the notes to 2-3 pages. Summarising in your own words will help you in your learning.
  • Try to keep the structure of your notes for cases uniform, so that you can skim through your notes easily. Here is a template:
  1. Case name and year/reference. Level of court.
  2. Facts.
  3. Held (including a note of whether the decision was unanimous or split, e.g. ‘Held (3-2)’ to record the number of judges who voted each way.
  4. Judgments (put a note in the margin of the page or paragraph number - this will be a great help if you have to go back to the judgment, because you think you have missed a point).
  5. Comment - you may find it useful to add comments made about the case in the textbook, in articles, in case notes, or in the tutorial.

Reading and writing essays:

  • The most important point to remember is to write with clarity. You can do this by making your argument clear in the introduction, as well as signposting your essay.  Omit information that does not directly support the argument you are making.
  • In terms of using evidence, legal cases, statutes etc. are not the author’s opinion, but opinions need to be based in evidence. In other words, use your understanding of the law to develop your own opinions.
  • Use the planning stage to make links between evidence and your argument.

Reading and writing problems:

  • A problem is a set of hypothetical facts. Based on these facts, you will either have to offer advise to certain parties or discuss the offences that have been committed. 
  • The purpose is to spot the legal issue and then show how the courts might resolve this.
  • Problems are different to essays. Instead of using your understanding of the law to make an argument, when answering an argument you are applying laws to the problem.
  • To structure your answer, break up the text in accordance to the issues at hand using headings and numbered paragraphs.


Politics, Economics and Philosophy - PPE


Christ Church Library, Bodleian, Social Sciences Library (Manor Road), Philosophy and Theology Faculty Library (Woodstock Road).  

Course Structure:

The first year is designed to give you a foundation in Politics, Economics and Philosophy, through your participation three compulsory papers: Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Politics, and Introductory Economics.

In Philosophy you have to answer at least one question from each of the three sections into which the paper is divided: that is, Logic, General Philosophy, and Moral Philosophy. In Politics, you are required to answer questions both on the empirical practice of Politics and Political Theory. The Economics paper has a range of questions covering Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Quantitative Methods, and students are required to answer at least one question from each of those three areas.

After the first year the choices are greater. First you must decide whether to select two branches from Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, which will make you ‘bipartite’, or to keep going with the third as well, making you ‘tripartite’.

You will nearly always have more than one tutorial a week, but you won’t be expected to write more than twelve tutorial essays a term. In your tutorial, you will discuss the set reading (or a variant if the reading was very difficult to locate) and a set piece of written work.


  • Plato Stanford: This is Sandford’s resource on philosophy (and political theory) and has many articles about different topics and philosophers. The content is written by academics and it may be useful to look at this before you write your essay, to give you an initial overview of the topic!
  • As part of the course, you are expected to develop your numerical, statistical and computing skills. In economics, you will have a Quantitative Methods paper and in Politics, you will have a quantitative methods component in your first year where you will learn more about data manipulation, data handling and data analysis. In your first year, data labs will be a core part of your course. The labs will introduce you to statistical software like STATA and R.

Planning and writing:

  • Give yourself a few days to write your essays- there is always a lot of searching, reading, thinking and writing involved to meet the demands of a tutorial.
  • Read attentively- click the link here to learn more about active reading.
  • Be realistic about how much you can do in a few days and plan your essay accordingly- you might have an elaborate structure, for example, that looks good on paper but think about whether you will be able to meet your deadline
  • Expressing an argument is the main purpose of your essay, so make sure you are organising your thoughts in a logical way
  • In tutorials, you will develop your ideas by sharing them with other students, so use the tutorial as an opportunity to test ideas, develop your own arguments and think through more difficult or tricky topics
  • Click this link to learn more about key study skills you will be using as part of the PPE course:
  • Click this link to learn more about how to write a Philosophy essay