Dissertation in Law - LAWS9880

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Combined Autumn Spring Summer 7 60 (30) checkmark-circle
Year 7 60 (30) checkmark-circle


The module is built around 16 hours of lectures and 24 hours of seminars over the course of one term. Following on from Fundamental of Dissertation and Research in Law (LAWS9881) which addressed the ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues in the social sciences; the main approaches to social science; analytical approaches, modes of reasoning (deduction, induction) and levels of analysis (agency, structure, co-determination); this module will demonstrate how these concepts are used differently in different subject-specific contexts which represent the main fields of inquiry at BSIS, including legal analysis, political analysis, historical analysis, and economic analysis. The module then moves on to practical questions of research and writing the dissertation, including the construction of the dissertation proposal and the dissertation itself, the use of research materials (qualitative and quantitative data), using research and resources (libraries, documentation, and the internet); and drafting and writing, including the use of appropriate academic style and format.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 40
Private study hours: 560
Total study hours: 600

Students will be allocated a supervisor who will help them gain momentum in their research. Meetings would normally be expected to take place on a regular basis and could be arranged via office hours and/or email. The supervisor will guide the students towards the relevant (general and specialised) literature, help with the design of the project and offer subject-specific advice. Each student is allocated approximately 7-hours of supervision over the course of their dissertation (according to individual needs).


Compulsory to the LLM Specialisation (Brussels)

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Dissertation Proposal 1,500 words (10%)
Group Project (5%) – each group participant will be receive one collective group mark.
Dissertation 15,000 words (85%)

Reassessment methods

Reassessment Instrument: 100% project

Indicative reading

• Banakar, R. and Travers M. (eds.), Law and Social Theory, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2014.
• Chatterjee, C., Methods of Research in Law, Old Bailey Press, Horsamonden, 2000 (2nd edition)
• Hanson, S., Learning Legal Skills and Reasoning. Routledge, London, 2015 (4th edition)
• Hollis M., The Philosophy of Social Science: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.
• Hollis M. and Smith S., Explaining and Understanding in International Relations, Clarendon, Oxford, 1990.
• King, G., Keohane, R. and Verba S., Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Princeton University Press,
• May, T., Social Research: Issues, Methods and Processes 4th ed., OUP, 2011.
• Potter, S. (Ed), Doing Postgraduate Research 2nd ed. (Sage/Open University, 2006)
• Sunstein, C. R., Legal Reasoning and Political Conflict, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000
• Webb, K., An Introduction to Problems in the Philosophy of Social Sciences, Pinter, London, 1996.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding the ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues involved in the research design of
projects in international law and international relations, and the relationship between these concepts.
2. Conceptualise a question for investigation, and to design the appropriate research methodology.
3. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between a problem, theoretical approach, research design, and analysis.
4. Deploy and operationalise successfully the appropriate concepts in the philosophy of social science to inform a research design leading to
a successful conclusion in the production of a dissertation.
5. Follow logically the research design, overcoming any anticipated and unanticipated problems in the empirical research, realising the
successful conclusion of the product in the form of a dissertation.
6. Apply theoretical perspectives in law, politics and international relations to case studies.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Work with complex theoretical knowledge and critically apply theory to practical issues.
2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the ethical, metaphysical, theoretical, epistemological, and methodological dimensions of the
scholarly work done in their discipline in general and in their own work.
3. Undertake an analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge and make carefully constructed arguments.
4. Demonstrate a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, policies, and practices.
5. Be reflective and self-critical in their work.
6. Use the libraries, the internet, bibliographic search engines, online resources, and effectively conduct complex research.
7. Engage in sophisticated academic and professional communication with others.
8. Demonstrate a highly developed independent learning ability required for further study or professional work.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.