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Research Skills & Methods - LAW00021M

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Peter Harrison
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module will be a compulsory element of the LLM degree, to prepare students for the dissertation in term 3 and over the summer. It will provide an introduction to research methodologies and theoretical perspectives (such as doctrinal, comparative law, socio-legal, historical, content analysis, quantitative analysis, research ethics), as well as practical elements of carrying out a research project, to include research design - defining a topic and questions; locating sources and reading critically; constructing arguments, and referencing correctly.

These skills will be developed through seminars and exercises on relevant commercial legal topics.

The principal aims are:

  • To give students a grounding in techniques and methodologies appropriate to legal research and applicable to their own work
  • To introduce students to the process of formulating and developing questions suitable for advanced legal research and designing a research framework around those questions
  • To equip students with the skills needed to complete a substantial piece of independent legal research

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Understand research techniques and methodologies appropriate to legal research and applicable to their own work
  • Identify a legal issue that has the potential to be the subject of legal research

Academic and graduate skills

  • [Carry out independent research on a topic related to law]
  • Act autonomously in developing a research proposal and plan
  • Critically evaluate and apply relevant theoretical and methodological frameworks
  • Identify, locate and use relevant primary sources
  • Critically analyse and engage with a wide range of the secondary literature relevant to their topic
  • Construct coherent and logical arguments at an advanced level, addressing theoretical, doctrinal and policy issues relevant to their chosen issue
  • Make use of appropriate referencing techniques
  • Reflect critically on their own learning in the course of the research process
  • [Apply what they have learned in the preparation for and writing up of the dissertation]


Task Length % of module mark
Research Proposal
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Research Proposal
N/A 100

Module feedback

Information currently unavailable

Indicative reading


G. Griffin, M. McConville and Wing Hong Chui, Research Methods for Law (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

G. Holborn, Butterworths Legal Research Guide (2nd edn, Butterworths, 2001)

A. L. Parrish and D.T. Yokoyama, Effective Lawyering: A Checklist Approach to Legal Writing and Oral Argument (Carolina Academic Press, 2007)
M. Salter and J. Mason Writing Law Dissertations: An Introduction and Guide to the Conduct of Legal Research (Longman, 2007)

E. Volokh, Academic Legal Writing (3rd edn, Foundation Press, 2007)

The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (4th edition, 2010)

Further reading

L. Epstein and G. King The Rules of Inference (2002) 69 U Chi L Rev. 1

J. Kirshner Alfred Hitchcock and the Art of Research (1996) 29 PS: Political Science and Politics 511

J. Goldsmith and A. Vermeule, Empirical Methodology and Legal Scholarship (2002) 69 U Chi L Rev 153

P. Samuelson, Good Legal Writing: of Orwell and Window Panes, (1984) 46 U Pitts L Rev 149

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students