Dissertation in Law - LAWS9880

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Combined Autumn Spring Summer & Vacation 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 (LW9881) 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

The Lectures
Schedule: 16 contact hours; 12 lectures over one term, including eight one-hour lectures on the fundamentals of social science research and four two-hour lectures surveying social science methods.

The Seminars
Schedule: 24 contact hours, one two-hour seminar weekly over 12 weeks.

+ Supervision


Autumn and Spring

Method of assessment

Formative assessment of the seminar presentations and written assignments will be given throughout the module in the form of oral and written feedback. Summative assessment of the module will be based on the following:

Group Project 5%
Students will jointly, normally in groups of three, compose research proposals on a Law topic of their choice specifying key research design elements (each group will submit one proposal and receive one collective mark).

Dissertation Proposal 10%
Students will write a Dissertation Proposal of 1,500 words under guidance of a supervisor, that will be assessed and which will form the basis for support feedback on the larger project, the Dissertation.

Dissertation 85%
Students will write a Dissertation of no more than 15,000 words under the guidance of a supervisor and consistent with the Faculty regulations and in the appropriate format

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually
• Banakar, R. and Travers M. (eds.), An Introduction to Law and Social Theory, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2002.
• Chatterjee, C., Methods of Research in Law, Old Bailey Press, Horsamonden, 2000 (2nd edition)
• Hanson, S., Legal Method, Skills and Reasoning. Routledge, London, 2010 (3rd 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, 1996.
• May, T., Social Research: Issues, Methods and Processes, Sage, London, 1997.
• Potter, S. (Ed), Doing Postgraduate Research (Sage/Open University, 2002)
• Sunstein, C. R., Legal Reasoning and Political Conflict, Oxford University Press, New York, 1996
• 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

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.
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