A law student abroad


Hey look! Buckingham Palace! Can I please come in and have all of Duchess Kate’s clothes?

This semester, my last semester of law school, I’m studying abroad at Harris Manchester College at Oxford University in the U.K. I’ve been in Oxford for about 3 weeks now, attending classes for the past 2 and I feel comfortable now saying that it’s an extremely different experience than school back in Boston.

First off, the school year is divided into three 8-week terms instead of two semesters and students only take 2 “tutorials” per term. I’m visiting for what’s called the “Hilary” term, which runs from mid-January to mid-March. Then, though, I’m done! I can travel or come back to Boston and catch up on three years of sleep (but in all likelihood I’ll get a part-time job and study for the CPA and the Bar because that’s how adulting works). Still, my semester is done in March! I can’t overstate how excited I am about that perk.

An even bigger difference, though, is the way classes are structured. During this term, I am taking a primary tutorial (corporate finance), a secondary tutorial (comparative contracts), and a third tutorial (British Legal System–because I’m from abroad and it’s part of the program). For tutorials, one to three students meet for an hour with a “tutor” (who should be thought of as a super-smart-expert-in-their-field professor) either every week (for primary tutorials) or every other week (for secondary tutorials). These teeny-tiny classes are enormously different from the large lectures, and even the small seminars, I’ve experienced at BU.

First, I’m assigned about 500 pages of reading for each tutorial. Coming to Oxford, I was told to abandon any prior ideas I had about finishing reading before a class–it basically can’t be done. Second, I have to write a 2000-3000 word essay due the night before each tutorial meets. Third, tutorials are run like small group conversations or oral exams, where the tutor asks questions and you all discuss the answers. Now, because I chose subjects that most students take in the first term of the year, for my primary, it’s just me and the tutor and for my secondary it’s me, the other BU student here (hi Alex!), and our tutor. Tutorials structured this way have their definite pros and cons. On the pros side, I get one-on-one or nearly one-on-one time to discuss a topic with an expert in the field. I can ask whatever questions I want and poke around the intricacies of a topic without worrying about bothering an entire class with my seemingly asinine questions. On the cons side, though, if I don’t know the answer to a question, I’m on my own. Also, when you’ve got other students in your class, they can often think of things that you never would have gotten to on your own. Either way, the system is what it is, so I’ll take the good and ignore the bad.

The third main difference I’ve noticed is that history is EVERYWHERE. Compared to some places in the U.S., Boston is old. We’ve got old historical sites like the Common, the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, and the Boston Tea Party, but compared to Europe, the U.S. is simply young. Here, every building, every brick has a story. Is that where Sir Isaac Newton studied? Over there, is that where they planned D-Day? I thought that was just my dining hall–my mistake. I also think there’s legitimately a 50% chance any given building in Oxford is a library, a bookstore, or somehow related to Harry Potter (and as a Potter fan, I’m particularly excited about that).

All of this combined means that I highly HIGHLY encourage anybody who’s thought of studying abroad to apply to come here. One out of one law student does recommend. If England isn’t your thing, don’t fret. There are a ton of programs available through the study abroad office. I don’t know much about them, but there’s a website (http://www.bu.edu/law/current-students/jd-student-resources/study-abroad/) and people who can help you. (No, I was not told to write this.)

So, I suggest you collect a friend to come along (because how much better is traveling and studying somewhere new with your bestie?) and study abroad. I mean, if not now, when?


And London is just a short bus ride away. Hey there Ben!


Harris Manchester College library. Don’t worry, the skeleton is cool.


Were those stairs in the Harry Potter movies? Why yes, yes they were.



This is where I live. Aww, look how cute it is.


Ossai Godwin posted on February 12, 2016 at 7:18 am

Please who is a J D student.

Kimberly Condoulis posted on February 12, 2016 at 10:03 am

“J.D.” stands for Juris Doctor–it’s a shorthand for the typical law degree in the United States. Students who have completed an undergraduate degree are welcome to apply to be J.D. students and attend three years of law school to obtain the degree. Nearly every state requires students to obtain a J.D. from an approved school (usually meaning the school is American Bar Association accredited) before they are permitted to sit the Bar, an exam which must be passed before somebody may practice law in the states.

I hope this clears things up. If you have further questions, feel free to ask. You can also check out the Wikipedia page on the Juris Doctor degree. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juris_Doctor

Ossai Godwin posted on February 12, 2016 at 7:30 am

Please I need a friend here who can help me with information…I have mailed BU several times without geting a reply. I want to do my LLM in Tax law in BU but what I don’t know is whether my grade; second class lower division with one year practicing experience can make me eligible for admission. If it can’t, is there provision for PGD or any other program I can do to qualify with time for LLM? Please I need your help. Best regards.

Kimberly Condoulis posted on February 12, 2016 at 10:04 am

I’m sorry you’ve faced some difficulty getting the information you need. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I’ve reached out to some people who should and we’ll get back to you with an answer soon.

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