Law and Computer Science

A Fully Interdisciplinary Master's-Level Course
at Oxford University

Increasingly, cross-disciplinary collaboration is being recognised as a fertile and innovative academic and practical endeavour. Through research-led design of a ground-breaking master's-level course, academics from Oxford's Department of Computer Science and Faculty of Law are bringing students from the two disciplines together. Every year, student participants in Law and Computer Science explore the terrain at the interface, discover how digital technology can change legal practice, and investigate the legal challenges of technological innovation. They put their knowledge into practice in a group project to design and implement a new digital service or product with legal elements.

The research group behind the course is now offering a practice-oriented, online non-degree education programme and gathering evidence for a full MSc in Law and Computer Science.

How the Course Works

The course stems from world-leading research into the use of AI in the provision of legal services and the mindset, skills and knowledge gaps between lawyers and computer scientists. This has enabled the Oxford academic team of leading researchers in Law and Computer Science to create a unique course at the intersection of the two disciplines.

A hallmark of the course is that it brings together exactly equal numbers of Law students and Computer Science students. And this genuinely multi-disciplinary balance runs right through all course activities.

Sixteen core lecture-seminars give the students the opportunity to engage in discussions based on wide reading (a feature not typical of CS courses) and research-led presentations, with every session including talks from leading academics in both Law and Computer Science. The practical project requires the students to work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop a techno-legal solution to a real-world problem. They are supported by a group of industry mentors and sponsors, who bring a strong commercial focus as well as share invaluable practical insights, data, and technical tools.

Alumni of the course go forward with deep engagement and insights into the other discipline. Some of the project ideas have produced potential entrepeneurial ventures, and close engagement and feedback from our mentors encourages industrial and commercial awareness. The course also inspires further cross-disciplinary research at Oxford, and has led to the establishment of the practice-oriented Oxford LawTech Education Programme (OLTEP)

Three Central Themes

The course content is structured around three central themes.

  • Mindset understanding. How will computer scientists and lawyers of the future need to work together? Do they at present have a common language and a common understanding of concepts such as “rules” or “fairness”? If not, how can such a common approach best be forged?
  • Digital technology in legal practice. How is digital technology being deployed in key areas of “legal work” such as contracting and dispute resolution? Who is the actual end user/beneficiary, and what commercial imperatives—and legal and technological constraints—operate on this deployment? How are they likely to shape its future trajectory?
  • Legal questions and digital technology. How are concepts and analytic methods from computer science pertinent to the application of substantive law? Are there any gaps in existing legal doctrine that will need to be addressed, and if so, how? Do common themes emerge in the challenges that arise and the ways in which they should be addressed?

Student Team Projects

Every year, our students work in small mixed teams comprising equal numbers with a law background and a computer science background to conceive and build an innovative product or service powered by blockchain or natural language processing technology. They present their projects in a simulated 'seed pitch' for investment in their venture.

“Great session. Brimming with energy, insight, and a few ideas that I can imagine attracting investment. A triumph of inter-disciplinary teaching and collaboration.” – Professor Richard Susskind OBE

Here are some of their ideas.


Smart E-mail plug-in that detects data erasure requests under GDPR and quantifies urgency. Global service creates self-improving AI, while secure multi-party computation guarantees privacy.


AI based on Natural Language Processing that detects hard to spot and subtle contradictions in legal contracts. Uses a specially tuned large language model.


Enabling access by charities to a wider and growing digital donation space. A blockchain technology-based solution for growing charities that allows for a more considered approach to digital fundraising.


Blockchain-based service supporting sealed-bid auctions for NFTs associated with works of digital art. The new way of selling NFTs and digital art.

Industry Mentor Group

The hands-on orientation of the project part of the course means a rigorous emphasis on identifying and developing a real-life product or service that is both relevant and practical. To help with this, students have the benefit of unique industry insights that are provided directly into the projects they choose to undertake. These are delivered by the Industry Mentor Group, a collection of leading experts from a range of relevant specialisms—including legal innovation, legal change management, legal design and legal technology. All our industry mentors bring broad practical experience to the programme, offering mentoring and guidance directly to the students over the course of their projects.

“I’m constantly impressed at the range and depth of the projects taken forward on this ground-breaking course, which consistently attracts such a brilliantly engaged, innovative mixed cohort of lawyers and computer scientists. The opportunities for cross-specialisation learning and real innovation afforded by working in such a collaborative way are immense.” – Stuart Hopper, Chair of the Industry Mentor Group


Law and Computer Science is offered as an optional course in postgraduate master's degrees in both the Law Faculty and the Department of Computer Science at Oxford. It is also available as a fourth-year option in all three Oxford undergraduate courses in Computer Science.



Course Convenors

Law and Computer Science is currently convened by Professor Rebecca Williams, Faculty of Law, and Professor Tom Melham, Department of Computer Science, and was developed and designed together with Dr. Václav Janeček, now at the University of Bristol Law School.

Photograph of Course ConvenorsVáclav Janeček, Rebecca Williams, and Tom Melham