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Writing Law Dissertations


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Table of Contents



Chapter 1. How to Begin

- Introduction

- What is 'research'?

- What is a 'dissertation'?

- How to choose your dissertation topic

- Specific suggestions for getting you started

- Identifying the key issues and marginal issues in your dissertation

- Is the research viable in practice?

- Putting pen to paper

- Conclusion

Chapter 2. Getting Along With Your Supervisor

- Introduction

- Choosing your supervisor

- When to choose

- What can you expect from your supervisor?

- The role of the dissertation supervisor

- Devise your own 'learning contract'

- At the beginning of your supervision

- Writing the dissertation

- Meeting your supervisor

- Reviewing draft chapters

- How much supervision?

- Making the most of constructive criticism and formative feedback

- Common problems with supervision

- Conclusion

Chapter 3. Selecting Suitable Approaches to the Conduct of Dissertation Research

- Introduction

- Resistance to methodological discussion

- Positive reasons for engaging in methodological discussion

- Recognising the implications of the tension between different research methodologies

- Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting an inappropriate methodology

- Conclusion

Chapter 4. Black-Letter Approaches to Doctrinal Research

- Introduction

- Towards a provisional working definition: black-letter law as legal formalism

- Other features of the black-letter approach

- The centrality of classic textbooks

- Insulating the dissertation topic from 'external' factors

- Setting and answering the question: what is the legal position on X?

- The requirement to reveal a system of underlying principles ordering legal rules

- Searching for coherence and systematic order

- Legal principles and rules are largely determinate

- The standpoint of black-letter analysis

- Wider strategies of selective exclusion

- The focus on law in books

- Deductive methods of reasoning from first principles

- Law as a distinct and unique discipline

- The restricted character of black-letter forms of criticism of law

- Questions of evaluation: the advantages and problems of black-letter analysis

- Conclusion

Chapter 5. Sociolegal Approaches to the Conduct of Dissertation Research

- Introduction

- Defining sociolegal studies

- The diversity of topics and themes addressed by sociolegal studies

- The emphasis on law in action

- Policy and the power of ideologies

- The diversity of research methods used in sociolegal studies

- Ethical and other normative dimensions

- Strengths and criticisms of sociolegal approaches

- Conclusion

Chapter 6. Comparative and Historical Methods

- Introduction

- Comparative approaches

- Comparative historical approaches

- Historical methodologies more generally

- Sociolegal histories of criminal justice

- The legal regulation of property and housing

- International and comparative sociolegal histories

- Public law, civil liberties and human rights

- Social welfare and family policy

- The legal regulation of professions

- Black-letter versions of legal history

- Conclusion


Further Reading and Bibliography

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Covers legal dissertation level research showing how to do it - planning, identifying key issues, adopting appropriate research methods, time management and managing one's supervision.

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