Of course, having never studied law before I really had no clue about what to expect from the degree, and was absolutely terrified that I would fail miserably. In the first two or three weeks of starting the course my earlier fears were realised, as I found myself feeling completely out of my depth. Everyone seemed to know so much more about the subject, and they were all using big words that I didn’t understand. I felt stupid.
There was so much reading to do and I wasn’t taking any of it in. The cases were so complicated, and hard to read, and it took ages for me to understand them. Even the textbooks were ten times the size of me!
But I soon realised (after one or two breakdowns) that I wasn’t drowning in the mass of cases, academic literature and textbook readings; somehow I was managing. And, most surprising of all, a lot of people also seemed to have been feeling the same way that I had. All those people were dealing with the same insecurities that I was.
Now, one term in, I try to remember that the course will teach everyone the same things. While some people will have a slight advantage because they already know some law (from studying law at A-level), they will only know it in A-level detail, we all have to get up to degree level.
From experience, let me give you some guidance which has helped me through my first term at Lancaster:
Engage in seminars. They give you the opportunity to have group discussions and learn from your peers.
Listen in lectures. They set out and clarify the basics. Go to the lecturer’s drop in office hour after the lecture if you don’t understand something.
If you feel uncomfortable talking directly to the lecturer make use of our quite unique student mentoring system. You can get guidance from students who have previously been in your shoes on how to manage the workload.
Join the Law Society. You will have access to activities which will help your understanding of the subject.
Speak to your assigned Academic Advisor, an academic member of staff in the Law School. My advisor helped to put my mind at ease and recommended books that I could read on how to study Law and effectively revise for exams.
If all else fails, talk to your family or friends! Your friends studying law will almost certainly be in the same position as you.
Because of the huge amount of support provided by the university, I no longer feel out of my depth.
So my advice to you is: do not be scared! It will definitely be challenging, but the best feeling for me is seeing how far I have progressed. If you are apprehensive about studying law at university because you haven’t studied it before, don’t be, you never know what you could achieve if you put your mind to it.