7129LAWPL Postgraduate Legal Research Methods
The module is assessed by a research proposal of approximately 4,500-5,000 words, which accounts for 100% of your overall mark and can form the basis for your dissertation. The deadline for submission is Monday 3rd April 2020.
You will receive feedback on your coursework within 15 working days of the submission deadline. You may also seek oral feedback from the marker of your essay
You will be guided through the requirements of the research proposal in the sessions delivered as part of this module, and there will be ad hoc opportunities to discuss your progress with the module leader. However, your research proposal should broadly comprise the following elements:
1. A working title – this should give some indication of the general themes/issues to be explored by the research.
2. An abstract (approx. 300 words) – this summarises the main contribution to be made by the research. Look at journal articles for guidance.
3. Research objectives – these should be bullet-pointed and spell out what you hope to achieve by your research.
4. Research questions – these should also be bullet-pointed and are derived from the objectives above, albeit being more specific/focused.
5. Literature review – this is the most substantive part of the proposal. It should comprise at least 75% of your essay, and should survey the most relevant literature produced in the area of your proposed research. You should draw out the main themes and questions tackled, in turn identifying a specific focus for your own research that has either not been addressed already or which you may tackle in a different way.
6. Methodology – you should explain what methodology you intend to use and why this is most appropriate for your research. This is often rather brief for law projects, but may be longer if you are using more sophisticated research methods.
·Topic: a Masters Dissertation differs from an undergraduate essay in that there is a requirement of originality. It is not a long essay on a prescribed topic, nor is it an essay that demonstrates understanding of a thoroughly researched area.
·The student should make a contribution to the discussion that adds something new by way of approach, interpretation, comparison, or new perspective.
·The proposal should offer a clear rationale for the study explaining:
·what the subject of the study is,
·why it has been undertaken,
·how the study will be undertaken,
·what has already been covered and
·what the new contribution is.
NB: The rationale for the study includes a literature review but it is not a comprehensive literature review. The student should be able to demonstrate familiarity with and make a critical evaluation of the research already existing in the field.
The rationale should place your topic in context and explain where the line of enquiry you are pursuing joins the academic conversation and how it offers a different approach, perspective, or comparative viewpoint.
This assessment requires that the student to demonstrate a high level of research skills in the form of proper referencing of materials, the compilation of a bibliography and the appropriate use of primary and secondary materials.
1. Write in properly constructed sentences and paragraphs. Write grammatically, not colloquially – do not write e.g., ‘couldn’t’ or ‘could of’.
2. Do not write in the first (I/we) or second (you) person, only in the third (it).
3. Do not refer to unspecified persons by way of support, eg ‘it is thought by many’, ‘others have suggested’, unless you can footnote the source and explain who ‘thought’ or ‘suggested’.
4. Be precise in your use of language, i.e. avoid vague words such as ‘simply’.
5. Only use words/phrases/legal terms of art/abbreviations or Latin, if you know what they mean: e.g. means ‘for example; i.e. means ‘that is’.
The boxes below provide the marking criteria checklist. The marker will keep the following points in mind to judge the overall quality of the work. Every proposal is second marked. Marks are moderated by an external examiner. Students should also use the assessment criteria as a checklist.
The formulation of the topic and the validity of the study
Justification for the choice of the research topic
Identification of key research problem/s (critical issues surrounding the choice of the research topic)
The appropriateness of the methodology
Familiarity with the literature in the field and how the literature review exposes the gap in the current research and ties in with the research question
A coherent structure detailing the (time) plan of the research project
The assessment must be word processed, single sided, produced in double spacing and 12 font
Fully and accurately acknowledge (reference) all sources (consult style sheet- Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities - OSCOLA)