Referencing and the OSCOLA style

  • The Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is a referencing style produced by the University of Oxford's Law Faculty and an Editorial Advisory Board. It is a set of rules for accurately citing cases, legislation and other materials. OSCOLA is not only used by universities. Many publishers use this style in their books and journals to ensure that citations are presented clearly and consistently.

    As part of your course, you may be asked to use the OSCOLA referencing style to cite the resources you have used in your work.

    Why reference?

    Referencing your sources is a key aspect of academic and legal writing. By referencing your sources you are demonstrating that:

    • you can provide the relevant legal authority to support your work.
    • the arguments that you refer to have been supported by evidence from reliable and credible sources.
    • credit is given to other people's work, thereby avoiding plagiarism.
    • you have searched resources like books and journals widely for information on your topic.

    Resources on OSCOLA

    OSCOLA workshops

    OSCOLA handbook (4th edn, 2012)

    • The full and complete guide to all things OSCOLA style related. This handbook is published by the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford. It gives authoritative explanations of what rules should be followed when presenting you references, either in the main body of your work or in a bibliography. Example references are included to illustrate each rule.

    OSCOLA quick reference guide

    • This one page guide is also produced by the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford. It lists the most commonly cited formats, along with examples. It is a useful reference guide, but not everything is fully explained. Refer to the full handbook to get more information about each format.

    OSCOLA International Sources 

    • This supplementary document (also produced by the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford) covers a range of international materials not covered in the main handbook e.g. UN treaties and cases from the International Court of Justice

    OSCOLA help guide produced by Oxford Brookes library

    • This overview of OSCOLA is a good introduction and is designed to be used in conjunction with the OSCOLA handbook

    Cite Them Right

    • Cite Them Right is an online service designed to help you correctly reference a wide range of resources. It is easy to use with the ability to enter and check your own referencing examples. Advice is also given on avoiding plagiarism. It covers a range of referencing styles, so always make sure the drop-down box says OSCOLA before following any examples! Not every format has an OSCOLA example so, in these instances, you will need to refer to one of the other resources listed on this page

    Teach yourself OSCOLA

    • This new online guide from the IALS library will walk you through the whole OSCOLA handbook and then test your knowledge. You can also jump to individual sections. NB: Click 'log in as guest' if prompted. You will not need to create an account.

    Citing the Law Tutorial

    • This tutorial will show you how to reference a wide range of materials using OSCOLA. Lots of example references are included and there is a  quiz to test your knowledge.