Legal Research Methods
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Semester 1 & 2
Organiser: Dr Craig Prescott
Overall aims and purpose
This practical module is designed to develop the necessary legal research skills to support study and research at LLM level. The emphasis 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.
An indicative list of the topics the module will cover includes;
- 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,
- doing a literature review.
C- to C+
C- to C+ (50-59%) 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 database collected during the course of the research, present an adequate piece of written work with basic bibliographic sources and referencing, and/or oral.
Good: B- to B+ (60-69%) High Standard: 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.
A- to A* (70%+) 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.
Identify, and reflect critically upon the problems associated with legal research and develop appropriate analytical skills for their relevant LLM programme.
Show a comprehensive understanding of the skills necessary to write an appropriate research project proposal, including adopting the appropriate research methodology and writing a literature review.
Develop a critical understanding of the basic principles of research design and strategy, including formulating researchable questions, enabling students to make appropriate choices for their own research.
Show mastery of the skills required to undertake legal research at the postgraduate level, including the ability to search for sources, critically appraise those sources, and reference those sources accurately.
Show mastery of the skills necessary to effectively submit a dissertation, a research proposal, and other forms of legal writing appropriate to postgraduate level and comply with any necessary submission requirements.
|EXAM||Online Multiple Choice Exam||
Students are required to answer 50 multiple-choice questions covering the module material. Students have 48 hours to complete the test.
Students are required to write a research proposal outlining a proposed area for study and potential topics for their dissertation.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Students are required to undertake 178 hours of private study to prepare for seminars, assessments, and to develop their research proposal.
The module will consist of 11 x 2 hour seminars. 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
Subject specific skills
- demonstrate the ability to work with others in a team to achieve reasoned, critical, comparative perspectives upon legal questions.
- present reasoned, critical, comparative responses to the views of others on legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
- present to others from a specialist or non-specialist background, reasoned, critical, comparative presentations relating to legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
- write sustained critical expositions of any given area of the legal subjects studied and present the findings clearly, logically and coherently;
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/sxl-4009.html
• Steve Foster, How to Write Better Law Essays (4th edn Pearson 2016)
• Emily Finch and Stefan Fafinski, Legal Skills (7th edn Oxford University Press 2019)
• J Holland and J Webb, Learning Legal Rules (10th edn Oxford University Press 2019)
• ATH Smith, Glanville Williams: Learning the Law (16th edn Sweet and Maxwell 2016)
• Rupert Haigh, Legal English (4th edn Routledge 2015)
• Michael Salter and Julie Mason, Writing Law Dissertations : An Introduction and Guide to the Conduct of Legal Research (2nd edn Pearson 2012).
• Mike McConville and Wing Hong Chui, Research Methods for Law (2nd Edinburgh University Press 2016).
• Martin Davies, Study Skills for International Postgraduates (Palgrave 2011).
• David Madsen, Successful Dissertations and Theses: A Guide to Graduate Student Research from Proposal to Completion (2nd edn Jossey-Bass 2013).
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)
- M1AR: LLM Maritime Law year 1 (LLM/MLAW)
- M1AQ: LLM Public Procurement Law and Strategy year 1 (LLM/PPLS)