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Course Information


Courses taught by SMU faculty will meet Monday-Thursday from 10 am – noon, most weeks. The first week the courses will meet Wednesday through Friday, while in the last week they meet Monday and Tuesday. A day trip to visit Legal London will replace one of the regular class sessions. This professionally-led tour includes a visit to the central civil courts (High Court; Court of Appeal) and the Inns of Court.

Tutorials will meet one afternoon a week on a Monday-Thursday for one hour.  The schedule of weekly tutorial meetings will be arranged by each individual tutor.

Course Selection

Students enroll in five credits of course work in the Oxford program. They take one three-credit course from an SMU Law School Faculty member and one two-credit tutorial taught by present and past members of the Oxford faculty. Each SMU professor will have no more than eighteen students. Tutorials accommodate six to eight students, and each tutor usually meets with no more than three students per session. Tutorials typically require students to prepare a written essay in response to an assigned topic and to present it to the tutor orally. Each tutorial is scheduled to meet five times during the program. The two-credit tutorial fulfills the general writing requirement at SMU.

NOTE: Applicants are asked to rank their first choices among the offered SMU courses and tutorials when they apply. While every effort is made to give each student his or her first choices, it is not always possible to do so due to class size and interest. We are usually able to give students at least one first choice (course or tutorial) and one second choice. Most students receive their first choice in both selections.

SMU Course Description

Comparative Law I (3 credit hours)
Professor William Bridge

Comparative Law I is the study of legal systems by comparison with each other; it has a contemporary tradition dating to the 1900 Paris International Congress of Comparative Law. The subject is the traditional introductory course in public and private international law, and international trade law.  It has gained in practical importance for two reasons: increased globalization of world trade, including conducting business in unfamiliar legal systems, and the move toward harmonization of laws, and even codification within the European Union, where several legal traditions coexist.  In the Summer 2014 course at University College Oxford, we will study the sources, styles, and institutions of major legal systems, including England, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, among others.  We will use a coursebook and some supplemental readings, and perhaps professional visits.  There will be a three-hour final examination, and some exercises throughout the course.

Comparative Law II Freedom of Speech: US v UK (3 credit hours)
Prof. Lackland Bloom

The course will focus on the values and theories that underlie the protection of freedom of speech, comparing the differing approaches of the United States and the United Kingdom.  It will consider historical incidents in both countries that have influenced the development of free speech jurisprudence.  The course will compare and contrast the approach of the First Amendment with that of Article 10 of the UK Human Rights Act of 1998.  It will also involve a close comparison and contrast of the US and UK treatment of such issues as prior restraint, content regulation, public forum, seditious speech, defamation, obscenity, offensive speech, commercial speech, campaign finance regulation, hate speech, internet speech, contempt of court and the conflict between speech and privacy.  

Tutorial Course Description

Comparative Human Rights Law   (2 credits)
Nicholas Bamforth

Despite the very different histories and constitutions of the nations concerned, the legal systems of the USA and the UK are officially committed to broadly similar sets of human rights. Furthermore, courts on both sides of the Atlantic have taken to citing - often against strong dissents - each other's precedents in human rights cases (a classic U.S. example being Lawrence v. Texas). Nonetheless, there remain very important differences between the two legal systems, relating in particular to the strength and ambit of many of the rights involved. The comparative Human Rights course will explore these similarities and differences in order to see what we can learn from them about the nature of constitutional human rights.

Comparative Constitutional Equality Law

This course will introduce students to the UK’s (famously uncodified) constitution. We will explore some of the central principles of the constitution, including the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, and consider recent constitutional reforms, including the Human Rights Act 1998.

English Legal System   (2 credits)
Jane Hanna

The course will provide an introduction of the role of the courts within the UK constitution with a particular focus on the balance of power between the judiciary and the institutions of government and whether this balance has altered since the UK'S membership in the European Union and the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Comparative Criminal Justice   (2 credits)
Stephen Shute

The course will consider the purpose of criminal law , purposes of punishment, focusing on English law and its contemporary issues.

Introduction to the European Constitution   (2 credits)
Nick Barber

This course will explore the European constitution and the impact it has on the member countries of the European Union.


SMU examinations will be administered on Thursday and tutorials on Friday of the last week of the program. The preceding Wednesday is a reading day.  Exam length depends on the credit hours earned per course.