• University of Cambridge

Exploring Law: Studying Law at University

Is law right for you? Learn the basics, explore key questions in depth, and hear from students and inspirational legal figures.

2,693 enrolled on this course

Exploring Law: Studying Law at University
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Learn the fundamentals of law and whether studying law is right for you

If you’re aged 16 to 18 and are considering studying law at a UK university, this six-week University of Cambridge course is for you.

Whether you already know that you want to study law at university, you’re considering your options, or are just curious about the law, this course will give you the introduction you need.

During this course, you’ll learn what studying law at at a UK university entails.

You’ll learn about the nature, sources and major categories of law, and key skills needed to succeed as a law student.

You’ll hear first-hand from university law students about their experiences, and from inspirational people from the legal world.

You’ll also gain insights into how to make an effective university application.

Whether or not you ultimately decide to study law or become a lawyer, this course will develop your understanding of the law and its role in society.

Discover diverse areas of law

Beyond the fundamentals of law, you’ll have the chance to explore in depth some fascinating questions of criminal law, public law and private law.

Study law with experts

This course is convened by Stephen Watterson, Okeoghene Odudu and Amy Goymour from the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, assisted by six specialist colleagues.

Under their guidance, you’ll gain insights into the law and develop key skills needed to succeed in legal studies. You’ll learn how to interpret different legal sources, apply legal rules to real-world scenarios, explore different perspectives on legal rules, and develop your own critical arguments.

Ultimately, we hope that you’ll develop confidence in your ability to enjoy and succeed in legal studies at university.


  • Week 1

    Welcome to Exploring Law

    • Welcome to the course

      Meet your team who will guide you through some fundamental aspects of law over the next five weeks and offer you an insight into what it is like to study Law at university.

  • Week 2

    What is law?

    • Introduction to the law

      This week, we will prepare you for your journey through the Exploring Law course by introducing you to some fundamental features of the law and equipping you with some essential legal skills.

    • Categories of law

      We will next explore how we might usefully organise the law into different categories, and take a closer look at the three major categories of law.

    • Being a law student

      This week, the students talk about what it felt like to start out on a Law degree and the challenges of reading legislation. You will then have a chance to interpret and apply some legislation for yourself.

    • A new perspective

      Lord Burrows will offer his unique perspective on legislation and case law. You will then have another chance to interpret and apply some different legislation, and learn why it is so important to read cases.

  • Week 3

    Criminal law

    • What makes behaviour 'criminal'?

      This week we discuss criminal law. We will first look at how we decide whether someone’s behaviour is culpable enough to justify them being convicted of a criminal offence and then we will explore the concept of recklessness.

    • The dynamic nature of the law

      One exciting aspect of studying and working in law is that it changes over time. To illustrate this, we will explore the historic development of the criminal law’s approach to recklessness.

    • Being a law student

      This week, the students discuss what it is like to study Law, and how they make notes on cases – an important skill for any Law student, which you will have a chance to practise.

    • A new perspective

      So far we have looked at how the criminal law’s approach to recklessness has developed over time. We now turn to the present day, to evaluate the leading current case, R v G.

  • Week 4

    Public law

    • Welcome to public law

      This week we will discuss public law. You will look at the distinct competences of the courts, Parliament and the government, and how the government can be held to account.

    • Limits of the judicial role

      Meet Lady Hale, former President of the Supreme Court, and examine the limits of the power of the courts.

    • Being a law student

      This week our students talk about what they do outside of their studies, and how they manage their time. They also offer their views on the qualities of a good argument.

    • A new perspective

      We will finish our exploration of public law with a look at a recent high profile case: Cherry/Miller.

  • Week 5

    Private law

    • Welcome to private law

      This week we will discuss private law. You will look at how the law views relationships between individuals or companies, and the role private law plays in our daily lives.

    • When are trespassers protected?

      How do courts decide whether it is reasonable for an occupier to offer protection to trespassers?

    • Being a law student

      This week our students talk about how they manage their study time and stay motivated, and what factors they consider when evaluating court decisions.

    • A new perspective

      Hear again from Law Commissioner Sarah Green and prepare for the final exercise.

  • Week 6

    Is law right for you?

    • Welcome to Week 6

      This week provides an opportunity to look back at what you have learned over the last five weeks and to look forwards, to what may come next.

    • Is law right for me?

      What does it mean to study Law at university, and is the subject the right one for you?

    • Becoming a law student

      Learn about the steps you can take to become a law student.

    • Your new perspective

      Take a moment to think about how far you have come during this course. What have you learned and what has inspired you?

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the pervasiveness and function of law in society.
  • Apply legal rules and principles to factual scenarios.
  • Interpret different types of legal text. 
  • Explore competing perspectives on legal rules.
  • Evaluate policy and particular legal rules. 
  • Produce an argument based on evaluation of legal rules.
  • Classify rule sources in a broader legal context.
  • Describe what characterises students and practitioners of law.

Who is the course for?

This course is primarily designed for students between 16 and 18 years old who are considering whether to study law at a UK university.

Who will you learn with?

Stephen Watterson holds the position of Professor of Private Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, and is a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

Okeoghene Odudu is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Amy Goymour is an Associate Professor in Land Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Who developed the course?

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge contributes to society through the pursuit of excellent education, learning, and research.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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