Postgraduate

LAW8090 : Legal Research Skills and Methods

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0

Aims

Some of the students who start their LLM at the Law School have no degree in law or did not write up a dissertation as a part of their undergraduate degree. This module complements the actual dissertation writing component of all postgraduate taught degree programmes where a dissertation focusing on law or regulation will be required. In such a dissertation, students are expected to acquire knowledge on a specialised topic, possibly outside of the scope of the taught modules on the degrees, and are expected to carry out an advanced piece of independent legal research. This module prepares students for this task by introducing the students to a variety of legal-specific research skills, and assisting the students in arriving at an appropriate dissertation topic and methodology.

Student aims: to acquire the relevant research and study skills to successfully complete their postgraduate taught degree and particularly the dissertation requirement of their degrees.

Outline Of Syllabus

Training on essay writing and assessment, legal writing and reasoning, and sources/referencing and plagiarism; choosing a dissertation topic, managing a dissertation project, research methodologies, conducting a literature review, ethics and legal research.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:00Lecture material including structured learning activities
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion161:0016:00Formative assessment preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion641:0064:00Assessment preparation.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading20:301:00MCQs for skill development
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Zoom seminar groups
Guided Independent StudySkills practice31:003:00(Optional) Library sessions for independent research skill development
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Held on discussion board
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Feedback session for formative assessment, summative assessment feedforward.
Total100:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be taught mostly through (synchronous) interactive small group teaching. The sessions at the start of the year are there to provide core information about the module, degree, and dissertation process to the students, and these are best delivered in a ‘lecture’. However, these are not traditional lectures: they are more akin to small group teaching. They all include interactive components that require the students to engage in practical exercises and discuss the outcomes of those exercises with each other and the lecturer. There will be designated scripters (selected among the students in rotation) who will take notes which can be circulated to all. This way students who miss the sessions can have access to the sessions.

As the module progresses students will be benefitting from independent learning activities such as structured guided learning (reading lecture material) and guided independent study to learn and practice research and library skills. Some of the skill training required will be covered by LAW 8000 through PiP.

The first 2 hours of drop-in time scheduled for a synchronous workshop held on the discussion board where the students will discuss what a good essay and a good research question look like.

The other 3 hours of drop-in reflect on the fact that students may have questions about formulating their dissertation proposals that cannot be catered to in group teaching. Drop-in time will thus enable students to have an opportunity to discuss their research proposals outside of the group context, with more confidentiality and more focus on their specific topical questions.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal1M1003000 words dissertation proposal including a brief literature review
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
PosterM300 word abstract: The students will submit their dissertation title, methodology and main research questions
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MOptional formative assessment to test essay writing skills
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative assessment: In the beginning of the semester the students will be invited to write an essay using given sources. This is a formative assessment to test the students’ existing writing and citation skills and enable them to receive feedback on how to improve their writing skills.

Summative assessments: The zero weighted pass/fail assessment and 3000 word essay (dissertation proposal including a brief literature review) were chosen in specific response to the legal research skills that we expect students to be able to demonstrate during the course.

In November, the students will submit a 300 word poster abstract (the dissertation title, research questions and methods) to ensure that in preparing their presentation they are already working towards a clearly structured research questions and research design. These are zero weighted pass/fail because unless the dissertation topic is feasible the student should not start working on the next assessment. A feedback will follow from those marking the posters on how the research proposal can be improved.

After having received feedback on the posters, the student will have approximately 2 months to submit their final dissertation proposal, including a brief literature review.

A strong proposal and a brief literature review will enable students to produce clear, coherent, and feasible research project.

All the assessment on the course was specifically set as outlined to ensure that students start on their dissertation writing with as much preparation as possible.

Reading Lists

Timetable