Referencing and the OSCOLA style

  • What is OSCOLA referencing and why does it matter?

    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.

    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.

  • These one hour workshops are run by the Academic Liaison Librarian for Law and are aimed at LLB and GDL students, or any undergraduate student taking a law module that uses OSCOLA. Find out more about the course content and book your free place

    The library's OSCOLA overview (PDF) is a good introduction and is designed to be used in conjunction with the OSCOLA handbook.


    The OSCOLA handbook (4th edn, 2012) (PDF) is 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. If you find the layout of the OSCOLA handbook overwhelming, you may want to have a look at the IALS website where they have reproduced it in smaller chunks.


    The OSCOLA quick reference guide (PDF) 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 there's not much explanation, so is only of use once you are comfortable with OSCOLA. Refer to the  full handbook (PDF) to get more information about each format.


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


    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. The section numbering mirrors the OSCOLA handbook so you can easily move between the two. NB: Click 'log in as guest' if prompted. You will not need to create an account.
    Cite Them Right is 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. 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 the OSCOLA handbook (PDF). There is good general advice about using quotations, avoiding plagiarism etc. under the ‘basics’ tab. NB: you will need your usual Brookes login details to access Cite Them Right.
  • Test your OSCOLA skills!

    This short, multiple choice quiz will help you test your referencing skills in a safe, non-assessed context. You will find it helpful to have access to the OSCOLA handbook (PDF). When you complete one question the quiz will automatically move on to the next question for you. The blue bar at the bottom shows your progress.