Preparatory Reading, Viewing and Listening


The following guidelines are appropriate for all undergraduate law programmes.


Although pre-reading is not compulsory you may find it helpful to prepare for your studies at Exeter by reading or dipping into some of the following books.

Many lawyers, including some in the Law School, started their university careers by reading the classic general introduction to legal studies Learning the Law (15th edition, 2013, Sweet & Maxwell) by the late Glanville Williams but now updated by A.T.H. Smith. William's work remains a solid introduction. However, Learning the Law is not to everyone's taste; there are alternatives.

For instance, Nicholas McBride (Cambridge) has produced a similar yet arguably more readable introduction to law school in Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University (3rd edition, 2014, Pearson).

Another useful introductory book is What About Law? (2nd Edition, 2011, Hart) written by leading members of the Faculty of Law at Cambridge. What About Law? is a 'taster' text written around a number of leading cases to illustrate how the law works. This is a useful book if you want a gentle introduction to the law.

Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases and How They Shaped the World (2011, CUP) by Allan Hutchinson (Osgoode Hall Law School) is a beautifully written book on some of the great cases in the common law. Although the entire book is excellent and worth reading, chapters 2, 6 and 8 are particular fun and would be useful background for you!


A good lawyer will enjoy an acute awareness of the interface between the law and politics. Theologians might be able to lead cloistered lives, but lawyers cannot. The law plays a central role in society, and political questions frequently have legal aspects. For instance, should the UK remain a member of the European Union? Should the Human Rights Act be repealed and replaced with a British Bill of Rights? What counter-terrorist powers are consistent with human rights and the rule of law? Should consumers have rights? And so on.

The resolution of such questions inevitably creates legislation and eventually litigation - the lifeblood of the law. Thus, if you are not already doing so, you should also read a good quality broadsheet newspaper such as The Times, The Financial Times, The Independent or The Guardian. The Times carries both law reports and a useful weekly section on law. Many of these titles will offer a discount for students. (Please note that tabloid newspapers such as The Sun or The Daily Mail are no substitute.)

Radio and Television

Equally, you might also like to listen to the Today programme (every morning from 6am to 9am) or the excellent Law in Action, both on BBC Radio 4.

Newsnight on BBC 2 (every working day at 10:30pm) is useful viewing, providing in-depth coverage of important and controversial news stories.


Richard A. Edwards
Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of Education