Here’s what a 150-year-old land law exam looks like

By on

Courtesy of Middle Temple

Image credit: Middle Temple

The words “land law” are enough to strike fear into the hearts of aspiring lawyers across the country. From headache-inducing easements to painful proprietary estoppel, you’ll struggle to find a law student who has a good word to say on the subject!

And judging by a recent set of images shared by the good folk at Middle Temple, the same can probably be said for those seeking to enter the profession over 150 years ago.

The post is of a “Law of Real Property” exam paper sat by aspiring barristers on May 20, 1869. They had three hours to answer 12 questions on topics such as mortgages, statutory provisions and power of alienation.

Good luck!

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub


The Hon. William Gallows

The answer:

My Daddy is head of Chambers and my Uncle is the Lord Chief Justice.

I have in my pocket no less than 100gns for my pupillage.

Where do I sign?



Some things never change



The pupillage recruitment process is totally fair and objective.

I know that the daughter of a commercial QC totally managed to secure pupillage this year at a prestigious commercial chancery set on her own merits alone (despite having a 2:1, which none of the other tenants have).


Honour student

Land law is and was an interesting one . Enjoyable to an exact, no room for arguing . Pretty black and white. Only those who were slow or incapable of understanding it failed


You wot m8?

“No room for arguing”

I guess that renders property litigators redundant. I’d suggest, if you really think it’s that black and white, you’re perhaps a tad slow / incapable yourself….



But they said they were an honour student, so they must know what they’re talking about!



I think this person is old. Only old people put a space after a full stop.



Do you mean before?



> From headache-inducing easements to painful proprietary estoppel, you’ll struggle to find a law student who has a good word to say on the subject!

Land Law is one of the most conceptually straight-forward subjects to study at undergraduate level. The constant peddling of how difficult it tends to be says more about the person complaining than the content of the syllabus.



Exactly. I am no oxford scholar and Land Law was fine. There were even times when it could be interesting, thanks to its long history. The only people who did badly in it at my uni were 1) thick or 2) did not study enough.



Damn. Even 150 years ago students were wasting time studying land law and undoubtedly dying penniless and alone. Only the most incompetent trainees I know qualified into real estate. You have been warned.


Property barrister

Yeah mate, that’s it. Let’s just take a look at all the recent High Court and CoA judges that were primarily property litigators.


Law student

Can I have a mini pupilage, please? I’m very interested in property law.



… So apply for a property mini-pupillage then?


Anon (4)

Those questions are generally quite straightforward. Most of them require very descriptive answers, so really shouldn’t be difficult for anyone with a working memory.


Costs paralegal

I threw up 40 minutes into my land law exam. I tried to rush to the toilet but ended up throwing up on another students answer booklet hahahaha


Student from 1869

It is simply RIDICULOUS that all of our exams are not seen, open-book 72-hour exams! How can they expect us to concentrate now, in the 19th century, with all these diseases and epidemics? Even if the influenza were to be eradicated, they should continue to be open-book because that is what I find easier!


Scep Tick

Question 6 has probably been asked every alternate year ever since.


Comments are closed.

Related Stories