Oscola Referencing Guide
Assignment Writing

Oscola Referencing Guide

OSCOLA is a format of citation used by law students and academics. Further, it stands for Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities. Providing clear and consistent rules for referencing legal sources. In this blog post, you will learn how to do oscola referencing. Moreover, how to use it to cite cases, statutes, books, journals, and more. 

On the other hand, you will find out how to format your footnotes, tables, and bibliography according to OSCOLA. Whether you want to write an essay dissertation or a research paper. Moreover, This Oscola referencing guide helps you master and impress your readers with your legal knowledge. Read on to discover the secrets of OSCOLA referencing.

What Is Referencing?

When writing an assignment, essay or paper, your thoughts and ideas are built on those of other writers and researchers. Therefore, you must make it completely clear where the ideas and thoughts come from by acknowledging those sources of information. However, you need to do this by recognising the source by using footnotes and by giving full details of each cited in a bibliography at the end of the work.

Why Reference?

An essential component of academic writing and research is referencing. Moreover, the reasons why correct referencing is important such as:  

  • Enable your lecturer to follow up on the references and easily find the book or journal article in a library. 
  • To show your professor that you have read a variety of viewpoints.
  • Let your lecturer verify the correctness of the data you have provided.
  • Good referencing will assist in avoiding accusations of plagiarism.
  • You may lose marks if you do not acknowledge sources

What Is Oscola Referencing?

Oxford University developed OSCOLA (Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) in 2000 for Oxford University. Moreover, it is used by law schools in the UK and overseas, as well as other legal journals and publishers.

 It is the style used by the College of Law at Swansea University. OSCOLA is intended to promote uniformity and make it simple and quick for the reader to locate the necessary information. 

Oscola Referencing Examples

In this oscola referencing guide, we provide formats for various source types. Moreover, the most common ones are below.

Case Reports

In this case, you’ll usually begin with a neutral citation. A way of referring to the case that does not relate to a particular report. Therefore, provide complete details of the report afterwards. 

Also, pay attention to how the year (for the report) is shown differently based on its importance to the citation. However, the year is in regular brackets for reports where each year has a volume number. Moreover, the year is in square brackets for those where one year has many volumes.

Acts of Parliament

Use the short version of the title if the full title is longer than three words. If necessary, refer to specific parts of an Act of Parliament using section, subsection and paragraph numbers.

Statutory Instruments

Statutory instruments are numbered consecutively throughout the year. Moreover, this number appears at the end of the citation. 

Format Title Year, SI Year/Number.

Example Communications (Isle of Man) Order 2020, SI 2020/149.


Bills from the House of Commons and the House of Lords have different citation styles. You use ‘HC Bill’ or ‘HL Bill’ before the bill number based on the house of origin, and enclose the number of Commons bills.


Use the full name of the author as written in the source. Also, list the edition when it is stated on the title page. Keep in mind that Oscola referencing abbreviating ‘Oxford University Press’ to ‘OUP’; this is not the case with other publishers.

Journal Articles

For case reports, a journal citation uses square brackets from decades. Also identifies the volume. However, regular brackets are used when there are multiple volumes in a year.

Oscola Referencing Footnotes

  • Oscola referencing footnotes appear at the bottom of each page or at the end of the document before the bibliography.
  • While using referencing for any source, regardless of whether you are quoting or paraphrasing it. Moreover, your source must appear in a footnote in the body of your document.
  • Number footnotes consecutively throughout the document, starting with superscript1, unless this confuses. Usually, put them at the end of the phrase, right after the last punctuation mark. However, place them after the relevant word or phrase if you do this.   
  • Each footnote starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. If you quote the author’s words exactly, use quotation marks within the footnote. 
  • Keep the footnotes brief, as they should typically only be used to identify the sources used in your text.

Oscola Bibliography Example

You must create a bibliography at the end of your paper that lists all your sources. Each source must be listed once, even if you use them as a reference multiple times in your work. Moving forward, do not include background reading in your bibliography. However, a bibliography should appear after the text and after appendices. Moreover, here is an example of how to format a bibliography using OSCOLA:

Primary Sources

  • Cases
  • Caulfield v Baldwin (1994) 96 Cr App R 215.
  • Davis v Dignam [1999] 10 AC 515.
  • Roberts v Johnson [1946] AC 613.
  • Legislation
  • Civil Partnership Act 2004 sch 5.
  • Companies Act 2006, s 1003(3).
  • Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1030, ch 1, art 13(3).
  • Insolvency Act 1986, s 238.
  • Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 12(b).
  • Patents Act 1977 (as amended), s 4A.
  • Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005.

Secondary Sources

  • Books
  • Ashworth A, Principles of Criminal Law (5th ed, OUP 2006).
  • Allott P, Eunomia (OUP 1990; pbk edn 2001).
  • Armstrong KA, Governing Social Inclusion: Europeanization through Policy Coordination (OUP 2010).
  • Barak A (trans-S Bashi), Purposive Interpretation in Law (Princeton University Press 2005).
  • Boyle J, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press 2008).
  • Coleman J., Principle Practice: Supporting a Pragmatist Perspective on Legal Theory (OUP 2001).


Benjamin J, ‘The Narratives of Financial Law’ (2010) 30 OJLS 263.


The British Patent System: Cmnd 4407 (HMSO 1970) is the report of the Committee to Examine the Patent System and Patent Law, chaired by M A L Banks.


Boyd Rt Hon C, ‘Partners in Crime? New Relationships in the Criminal Justice System’, the James Smart Lecture delivered on 29 November 2005, <online> accessed 28 August 2011.

Other Sources

International materials

Antigua and Barbados, Patents Act 2003, Law no 23 of 2003, s 11(4)(1)(a) (online at <PDF> accessed 12 October 2011).

Council Decision 2006/512/EC: [2006] OJ L200/11.

Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth of Australia).

Chahal v United Kingdom (1996) 23 EHRR 413.

Case C-187/80 Merck & Co v Stephar BV & Exler [1981] ECR 2063.

Oscola Tables And Bibliography

While working on a lengthy document, such as a thesis or dissertation, oscola referencing requires you to include tables listing any cases and legislation. Moreover, a bibliography citing any supplementary materials is also needed. 

However, the tables and bibliography appear at the end of your text. However, the table of cases comes first, followed by the table of legislation and then the bibliography.

Table of Cases

The table of cases and the main text are showcased similarly. However, the table does not use italics for the people’s names.

Table of Legislation

The table of legislation contains all legal sources. For example, bills, Acts of Parliament and SIs. Additionally, items used in the table of legislation are listed in identical form to how they are cited in the text.


A bibliography shows all your secondary sources, not cases or legislation. For instance, you would include Hansard, any books and journal articles you used, and other sources like blogs, social media and newspapers. Therefore, how you write the author’s name in the bibliography differs from citations. In the bibliography, you write the last name first and use initials instead of the first name.

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