First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of law graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.

Sneha Priya Yanappa is graduate of Symbiosis Law School, Pune (BA LLB ’18) and a BCL candidate at the University of Oxford (’19). In this FPA, she shares her reasons for choosing the BCL, finding adequate scholarships and funding, the BCL experience itself, and a lot more.

At what stage of your undergraduate days did you start considering a post-graduate degree? Did you consider working for a few years before embarking on post-graduate studies?

It was right from my first year. I think very often we take our education for granted. The general attitude is that because we have five years in hand, we can take things lightly. This is exactly what I did not want to do. So, I set up short term and long-term goals. Short term- of what I wanted to do immediately. Long term- of what I wanted to do in a span of a year.

Oxford was a dream. But this would not have been possible without the support of three people who have been my mentors for the past 6 years- my brother- Ritesh Yanappa, and my seniors Vadeendra Joshi and Ayush Sharma.

I think it is very important to dream big. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I am thankful for having studied in SLS, Pune. Nothing came easy so it made me work harder for everything I wanted to achieve.

“I think it is very important to dream big. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I am thankful for having studied in SLS, Pune. Nothing came easy so it made me work harder for everything I wanted to achieve.”

Yes, I did consider working for a few years before embarking on post-graduate studies. However, as time passed by, I think my choice was clearer-I wanted to pursue it immediately. The change came about when I went to Germany to do a semester exchange where my zeal and hunger to study more became apparent. For me, doing a master’s was to broaden my knowledge base of the fields that I was interested in and not to score a high- paying job. Besides, being part of a diverse environment brings with itself lessons of life that last forever.

“For me, doing a master’s was to broaden my knowledge base of the fields that I was interested in and not to score a high- paying job. Besides, being part of a diverse environment brings with itself lessons of life that last forever.”

How did you go about selecting law schools, and why narrow down on the BCL?

I wanted a healthy balance – a university that is known for its reputation overall and is known for the subjects that it offers. I think it’s very important that one has an overall experience. Therefore, Harvard, Oxford, NYU and Columbia were my choices. BCL was a challenging course and hence I did not even think twice before doing it.

The BCL brings together people of different jurisdictions together on discussions on the most difficult issues in law, with an in-depth engagement requiring immersion in law as well as an openness towards discussing on neighbouring areas. What separates it from other courses is the way it is conducted-we have a demanding schedule requiring independent study, highly participative seminars and a complementary system of small group contact with tutors in the form of tutorials.

One of the other reasons I chose the BCL is because of the subjects it offered- the interaction it has with neighbouring academic disciplines allows one to appreciate and develop a critical attitude towards law. Oxford gives you the intellectual freedom to think differently and independently, and that is exactly what I wanted.

“One of the other reasons I chose the BCL is because of the subjects it offered- the interaction it has with neighbouring academic disciplines allows one to appreciate and develop a critical attitude towards law. “

Did you apply for financial aid of any kind?

I was awarded the Jesus College/Law Faculty Scholarship at Oxford. Along with this, I was awarded the J.N Tata Scholarship for Post Graduate Studies Abroad, 2018 and the K.C Mahindra Scholarship for Post Graduate Studies, 2018.

I received other scholarships during my course- the J.N Tata Gift Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Hanuman Bursary Award by the Oxford Hindu Society to pursue the BCL.

There are many scholarships that can one apply but it is very important to be aware. For instance, many of these scholarship applications have deadlines even before you get your admit from the university.

“There are many scholarships that can one apply but it is very important to be aware. For instance, many of these scholarship applications have deadlines even before you get your admit from the university.  “

The writing requirements for BCL admissions are fairly demanding – any advice on how to go about the application process?

I only have three important things to advise to anyone who wishes to apply for the BCL- Believe, prepare early and stand out. Belief is very important, for even when I was wishing to apply for the BCL, many of my friends laughed at my decision.

“Belief is very important, for even when I was wishing to apply for the BCL, many of my friends laughed at my decision.

So, it is important to not allow people’s negativity to stop you from chasing your dreams. I think it is important to start preparing early- it just helps you understand the process better. The selection panel looks for individuals that have a good balance between academic and extra-curricular achievements. It is good to have great academic credentials, but it is also important to have participated in other co-curricular activities. Let every activity in law school shape your application.

“It is good to have great academic credentials, but it is also important to have participated in other co-curricular activities. Let every activity in law school shape your application.”

The BCL application is one of the longest applications that you’d ever come across, and for good reason too- it’s Oxford!

It is important to stand out- and it is here that every little detail counts. The best thing is to be honest and be straightforward. References play a huge role in the determination of your application. It is important to choose someone who knows you well enough. The other two components are the essay and the personal statement- both of which must be as focused and clear as possible.

Your personal statement needs to be presented in a manner that can connect your achievements with your reasons for pursuing a master’s degree.

How has the BCL experience been thus far? What have been some of the highlights along the way?

The BCL experience has been nothing but overwhelming. It has been academically challenging yet extremely rewarding. It helped me understand critical legal issues across various areas of law in an in-depth manner through robust discussions with professors and fellow course mates alike.

It was an exhilarating experience being taught International Criminal Law by Judge Theodor Meron, a legend in the field. I also had the opportunity of being taught by excellent professors like Antonios Tzanakopolous, Sandra Fredman et al. I think it is not just the academic study, but also the lifelong friendships that I made in these 9 months, which was complemented by the unique student life at Oxford, marked by dinners (in academic gowns) and clichéd pictures almost everywhere. I met so many people from different corners of the world, each with a unique story to share.

“I met so many people from different corners of the world, each with a unique story to share.”

The biggest highlights of my experience in Oxford has to be the two committees that I was part of. I was the editor of the Oxford Transitional Justice Research Group (OTJR), an inter-disciplinary network of academics and students working on issues of transition in societies recovering from conflict and/or repressive rule.  I also worked as a Research Officer for the Oxford Pro-bono Publico, an organization dedicated to promoting the principles and practice of public interest law on a pro bono basis.

I worked on two projects- one relating to Anonymity protection for child victims and witnesses in South Africa and the other on Tort/delictual and constitutional damages arising from the death of a child as a result of the breach by the state of its constitutional obligations. I also received the Bonavero Institute Fellowship under the Eric Lewis Internship Fund and will be working in an organization called REDRESS in London for three months.

What is your reading of the UK recruitment market when it comes to BCL graduates?

The UK recruitment is extremely competitive. This automatically makes it difficult for one to secure vacation schemes or mini-pupillages.

I think it is very important to do a background research on the market prospects at the same time when one is applying for masters abroad. A meritorious application, nevertheless has great potential and the BCL holds great value in this respect.

Lastly, any advice for Indian law grads who are considering a post-graduate course outside the country?

One of the most important things that I realized is that everyone has a different perspective towards when one should pursue masters, I don’t think there is a right answer to this, especially because everyone has different experiences.

“One of the most important things that I realized is that everyone has a different perspective towards when one should pursue masters, I don’t think there is a right answer to this, especially because everyone has different experiences.”

Therefore, it is important to create your own opinion as opposed to listening to others. You need to be motivated, inspired and prepared as the battle out there is not easy. Very often, people get disheartened when they compare themselves with others. But it is important to realize that we are our only competition.

If we don’t realize our potential, we are bound to fail. One important thing- it doesn’t make you a smaller person if you reach out to others for help. It always helps when you hear out experiences from people who have gone through the process.

“It doesn’t make you a smaller person if you reach out to others for help. It always helps when you hear out experiences from people who have gone through the process.”

Lastly, you may always not get what you want, so it is important to not be disillusioned by this; it is important rather to make use of every opportunity that comes your way and work towards your dream.

One thought on “First Person Accounts: Sneha Priya Yanappa on the BCL, Oxford University

  1. I am very proud of sneha yanappa’s achievements at such an young age. Her clarity, determination and hard work is a beacon for aspiring youngsters to think.big and start early the preparations ad to where one wants to be as a student and in building a career. Topping this she is a wonderful human with values and ethics esp in the prifeprofe she has chosen.

    All the best Sneha

    Dr. Githa U Badikillaya, Bengaluru, India.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.