Legal Research Methods
Run by School of Law
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Prof Zhen Jing
Overall aims and purpose
This is a practical module designed to develop the necessary legal research skills to support study and research at LLM level. The emphasis of the course will be on the knowledge and skills needed to draft a good quality Masters’ dissertation and research papers. Sessions include an overview and introduction to legal research methods; exploring the planning phase of your dissertation; examining the construction of a literature review and bibliography; training in traditional and empirical legal research methods; using appropriate legal English or Welsh throughout your dissertation and crafting arguments and persuasive text that is adequately substantiated and referenced.
The module will cover the following topics: using a Law Library, essay writing for Masters students, legal writing, identification and evaluation of sources, avoiding plagiarism, referencing correctly, compiling a bibliography, planning a dissertation project, writing a research proposal, identifying a dissertation research question, research methodologies, and doing a literature review.
Present work that addresses one or more substantive topic(s) describe some of the main empirical and/or methodological issues arising from the literature or any other data base collected during the course of research, present an adequate piece of written work with basic bibliographic sources and referencing, and/or oral.
Present coherent and competent work, analyse a range of empirical, theoretical and methodological issues as appropriate to the topic studies, provide sound bibliographic support with correct referencing.
Present highly competent work, display a critical awareness of empirical, theoretical and methodological issues as to topic, should put forward coherent arguments, and demonstrate awareness of contemporary debates with relevant literature. Well organised and thorough bibliographic information.
Develop a critical awareness of a broad range of research methods and tools (underpinned by a strong conceptual awareness of the research processes and their underlying philosophies).
Identify, and reflect critically upon, the problems associated with legal research, and develop the appropriate analytical skills for their relevant LLM programme.
Develop a critical understanding of the basic principles of research design and strategy (including how to formulate researchable questions), sufficient to enable them to make appropriate choices for their own research.
Appreciate and use appropriate legal research methods and skills in relation to the submission of legal essays and a dissertation.
Understand how to write an appropriate methodology and literature review for a research project.
Understand how to present a research project proposal.
Develop appropriate communication skills and in particular the ability to communicate in a clear and succinct manner and present relevant legal and policy arguments
Use legal Welsh and/or legal English appropriately in essays and dissertation.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
The module will consist of 11 x 2 hour teaching blocks. The instructor will contextualise the teaching in discussions using examples based on the exercises. Students will be expected to be able to engage in dialogue about substantive issues for each class, and be actively engaged in activities such as small group exercises that will enhance their understanding.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Higgins and Tatham, Successful legal writing (Sweet & Maxwell 2011). Haigh, Legal English (Routledge-Cavendish 2009). Webley, Legal writing (Routledge-Cavendish 2010). McMillan and Weyers, How to write dissertations & project reports (Prentice Hall 2009). McMillan and Weyers, Study skills for international students (Prentice Hall 2011). Davies, Study skills for international postgraduates (Palgrave 2011).
Pre- and Co-requisite Modules
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- M1AF: LLM International Commercial and Business Law year 1 (LLM/ICBL)
- M1AT: LLM International Criminal Law & Intl Human Rights Law year 1 (LLM/ICLHR)
- M1AO: LLM International Intellectual Property Law year 1 (LLM/IIPL)
- M1AI: LLM International Law year 1 (LLM/IL)
- M1AC: LLM Laws year 1 (LLM/LAW)
- M1AM: LLM Law and Criminology year 1 (LLM/LC)
- M1AS: LLM Law of the Sea year 1 (LLM/LS)
- M1AR: LLM Maritime Law year 1 (LLM/MLAW)
- M1AQ: LLM Public Procurement Law and Strategy year 1 (LLM/PPLS)