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Law: OSCOLA Referencing Style

Library and information resources for staff and students in Newcastle Law School

Understanding Plagiarism

Why cite?

When preparing a piece of work, it is inevitable that you will refer to sources written by other authors. It is essential that you provide detailed, accurate information about the sources you have used. This information must be provided for a number of reasons:

  • You must correctly acknowledge your use of the statements, opinions, findings, etc. of other authors that you have used in your research. Not to do so amounts to plagiarism.
  • Correct citations allow others to use your work as a research source (for which you will be cited!)
  • Accurate citation allows you to return to your work at a later date and still make use of the research previously undertaken

As a general rule, a citation must enable another person using your work to easily identify and locate the sources you have used in your research.

What's the difference between a citation, a reference and a bibliography?

CITATION – this is where you refer to the source in the text of your document. This could be a shortened way of citing the source, with full details given in the reference list. There are different ways of writing an in-text citation; OSCOLA is a footnote system which uses a numerical footnote marker in the form of a superscript number (e.g. words.1), with a footnote at the base of the same page.

REFERENCE – the full bibliographic details of the source you have cited. In the OSCOLA style this is given as a reference list at the bottom of the page the reference(s) appear upon, known as footnote(s).

Citation in a footnote:

15 Elizabeth Fisher, Risk Regulation and Administrative Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing 2007).

BIBLIOGRAPHY – this includes any sources you have read as part of your research, whether you have cited them directly or not. A bibliography appears at the end of your work.

Citation in a bibliography:

Fisher E, Risk Regulation and Administrative Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing 2007)

Newcastle Law School stipulates in its General Requirements for Submitted Written Work (available via Blackboard):

"All formative essays and assessed coursework must include a bibliography. The bibliography must contain reference to all sources consulted, whether or not the sources have been referred to in the text or footnotes."

It's not in OSCOLA...

OSCOLA is a guide and offers a consistent method of citing legal materials in your work. It is not a definitive. If the material you wish to cite is not included in the OSCOLA rules or guidelines then use the general principles of the standard to maintain consistency. You will not be penalised for this.

Specific examples with Newcastle Law School approval:

Westlaw Insight (as a footnote):

Jonathan Coad and Lewis Silkin, 'Defamation: Internet Publications' Westlaw Insight (26 November 2013) [1] accessed 7 October 2016

Insight articles should be cited using the rules for newspapers articles (see  OSCOLA's full guide), with Westlaw Insight in place of the newspaper name, no publisher information, the date when you accessed the article (as they do get updated), and paragraph numbers (where necessary) in square brackets.

OSCOLA 4th Edition

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond. OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty, in consultation with the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board.  

  • OSCOLA has been regularly updated and is now in its 4th edition.
  • It is a footnote style used in Newcastle Law School.  
  • If you are using EndNote, there is an OSCOLA 4th edition style available.  
  • Details of the OSCOLA style are available from the following pages on Oxford Law's website:-
  • Oxford Law - OSCOLA (The Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities).
    • Includes a Quick Reference Guide for the current version of OSCOLA. The Fourth Edition of OSCOLA does not contain citation advice for International Law sources, however the section on citing these sources from the 2006 edition of OSCOLA is available as a separate document on Oxford Law's OSCOLA website: OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law.
    • Oxford Law - OSCOLA FAQs.

Tutorial | Cardiff Tutorial on Citing the Law

This tutorial will show you how to:

The resource was devised by Cathie Jackson and Ian Bradley, Information Services staff at Cardiff University and was partly funded by the UK Centre for Legal Education. The 4th edition revisions have been added by Matthew Davies and Lynn Goodhew. 

Tutorial | Law PORT (IALS)

Law PORT is a collection of training resources from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). These resources have been designed by a team of knowledgeable IALS Librarians to support postgraduate researchers in Public International Law and in the correct use of OSCOLA.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

Use the Cardiff Index to check you are using the correct legal abbreviation for journals and law reports.


Understand the Importance of Referencing (using Harvard@Newcastle)

Try our web quiz to test your referencing skills!

See Cite Them Right for further guidance and examples.



ASK Academic Skills KitASK has advice on developing your academic skills and information on where you can go for support.
Just ASK:

OSCOLA Full Guide

We highly recommend all Newcastle Law School students refer to the full and descriptive OSCOLA guide before addressing their formative and summative coursework:

[Source: OSCOLA website]

OSCOLA Quick Reference Guide

OSCOLA Quick Reference Guide

[Source: OSCOLA website]

OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law

The OSCOLA (4th edition) guide does not include International Law. Please refer to this document if you wish to cite treaties, UN documents, ICJ publications or other international sources.

OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law

[Source: OSCOLA website]

Using OSCOLA with EndNote

Learn how to use EndNote with OSCOLA using our step-by-step reference guide.  

Printed copies of this guide are available in the Philip Robinson Library and the Law Library.

For more information on EndNote and OSCOLA please go to the EndNote tab.