Law Dissertations: A Step-by-Step Guide provides you with all the guidance and information you need to complete and succeed in your LLB, LLM or law-related dissertation. Written in a simple, clear format and with plenty of tools to help you to put the theory into practice, Laura Lammasniemi will show you how to make writing your law dissertation easy, without compromising intellectual rigour.
As well as explaining the process of research and outlining the various legal methodologies, the book also provides practical, step-by-step guidance on how to formulate a proposal, research plan, and literature review. Unlike other law research skills books, it includes a section on empirical research methodology and ethics for the benefit of students who are studying for a law-related degree.
Packed full of exercises, worked examples and tools for self-evaluation, this book is sure to become your essential guide, supporting you on every step of your journey in writing your law dissertation.
Table of Contents
2 Finding and perfecting your topic
2.1 Key questions to consider when choosing a dissertation topic
2.2 Inspiration for finding a topic for research
3 From a topic to a question
3.1 Narrowing down your topic to a question
3.2 What is a compelling research question?
3.3 Tasks on evaluating and strengthening research questions
3.4 Tools for self-evaluation
4 Creating a good research proposal
4.1 What is a research proposal?
4.2 Proposal as a ‘running document’
4.3 Evaluate sample proposals
4.4 Evaluate your proposal
5 Planning the project
5.1 Scheduling and working effectively
5.2 Creating a research journal
6 Creating a research plan
6.1 Formulating research aim and objectives
6.2 Creating a research plan
7 Online research
7.1 Online sources: the good, the bad and the ugly
7.2 How to locate different legal databases
7.3 How to use different databases
7.4 How to use publicly available resources
8.1 Introduction to methodology
8.2 Blackletter law methodology
8.3 Socio-legal methodology
8.4 Theory as a methodology
8.5 Comparative law methodology
8.6 How to engage with methodology
9 Empirical research
9.1 What is empirical research in law?
9.2 Examples of empirical legal research
9.3 Pros and cons of empirical research
9.4 How to conduct empirical research?
9.5 Presenting research findings
9.6 Key principles of research ethics
9.7 What is ethics approval?
9.8 Other ethical issues
10 Processing literature
10.1 What is key literature?
10.2 Deciding what to read and what not to read
10.3 How to create a working bibliography
10.4 Quick reading skills
10.5 Deep reading skills
10.6 Critically analysing a text
10.7 A critical and reflective reader
11 Literature review
11.1 What is a literature review?
11.2 Why conduct a literature review?
11.3 Sources for literature review
11.4 How to conduct a literature review
11.5 Highlighting the originality of your research project
12 Writing the dissertation
12.1 Understanding and improving your writing skills
12.2 Writing good paragraphs
12.2 How to captivate your audience
12.3 Making an argument
12.4 How to incorporate evidence into my writing
13.1 Why reference?
13.2 Plagiarism and academic offences
13.3 OSCOLA referencing in a nutshell
13.4 Harvard referencing in a nutshell
13.5 Exercises to test your referencing skills
14 Structuring the dissertation
14.1 How to structure the introduction
14.2 How to structure the main body
14.3 How to structure the conclusion
14.5 Creating a reverse outline
15 Navigating supervision
15.1 What are the roles of a supervisor and a supervisee?
15.2 Managing your supervision meetings
15.3 Supervision guidelines
15.4 Feedback cycle
15.5 Working with a critical friend
15.6 Tools for critical friend and for self-evaluation
16 Obtaining a first and avoiding fails
16.1 How to get a first
16.2 Why does a dissertation fail?
16.3 How to avoid common pitfalls
17 Preparing for submission
17.1 Presentation and layout of the dissertation
17.2 What are the examiners looking for?
17.3 Final presentation/submission checklist
Dr Laura Lammasniemi is an Assistant Professor at School of Law, University of Warwick. She specialises in legal research skills, criminal law, and public law. She has previously convened Dissertation modules in a number of institutions and developed Dissertation module materials for the University of London (International Academy). Lammasniemi’s research focuses on law, gender, and crime from historical perspective.