The chosen topic for a legal research project with specific objectives and outcomes

The chosen topic will require you to identify and formulate problems and issues, conduct bibliographical research (and adopt any other research methods appropriate to your project), determine solutions and engage in critical evaluation, including formulating proposals for legal reform where appropriate.

  1. Choose and define the scope of an appropriate area for structured investigation;
  2. Acting autonomously and with minimal supervision: collect, organise, understand and interpret information from a variety of appropriate resources, including statistical and other numerical information where relevant;
  3. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and clear and accurate understanding of an agreed area of legal study;
  4. Critically evaluate evidence to justify and support conclusions / recommendations;
  5. Critically evaluate the law and its operation within society, suggesting appropriate reforms;
  6. Communicate effectively in writing and produce detailed and coherent work, conforming to the conventions of legal academic writing and demonstrating the necessary information technology skills.

In order to meet outcome 1, you will need to demonstrate that you have defined the breadth of your selected topic and undertaken a well-planned and systematic survey of the chosen area of law.

To meet outcome 2, you will need to show that you have been able to locate and use the relevant sources of information. This will depend to some extent on the precise topic you have chosen, but will generally include evidence of research which has located the main academic writing in the area (including the use of academic books and articles as well as relevant caselaw). This will involve demonstrating effective use of electronic databases such as Westlaw and Lexis. It is also likely to include critical and appropriate use of other web-based resources (which can vary from government sites to campaigning and interest groups).


To meet outcome 3 you will need to show that you have acquired a substantial body of knowledge about the topic, and studied it to the level where you have a clear and accurate overview of the subject: almost certainly this will involve understanding how your topic relates to its context (whether social, political, economic, historical or cultural) or to other areas of law.

Outcomes 4 and 5 address how you use the body of information you have gathered. It is not enough simply to gather together information about a topic and to provide a purely descriptive account, however comprehensive and well-understood. You need to demonstrate you can evaluate both the law and its context and, having done this, use it to make recommendations which can be justified.

Outcome 6 requires that you demonstrate a professional standard in the presentation of your work. It must be communicated effectively, which means you must use clear, accurate and grammatically-correct English. To conform to the conventions of legal academic writing all your sources must be correctly footnoted and referenced (see below in section 8 for information on academic integrity) and you must include a full bibliography. This must demonstrate the correct use of the OSCOLA system for referencing.

topic will be a historical, jurisprudential, socio-legal or comparative one or a combination of these. You will probably find it useful at this stage to prepare a synopsis of approximately 500 words and discuss this with your supervisor. S/he will advise you as to whether the synopsis appears appropriate, too broad or narrow, too ambitious etc.

Although supervisors are not expected or permitted to read large sections of your work, all dissertation students are expected to submit to their supervisors by the end of January 2016 the following:

  • The context or background of the question being looked at and why it is relevant to look at it
  • Some of the key themes for consideration around the question
  • Organisation of the dissertation (preliminary outline)
  • Potential sources, including an annotated bibliography (of at least 5-7 sources) consisting of one paragraph objectively summing up each source and why it is important/relevant to the dissertation topic

It should NOT exceed 2000 words in total

For the Dissertation, your Grademark submission must include:

  1. A Declaration (Cover Sheet on the VLE)
  2. A written abstract of your dissertation (not exceeding 300 words) This does not count towards the word limit.
  3. A substantial written dissertation or report not exceeding 10,000 words. Within that research findings may be presented in a range of media appropriate to the nature of the information.
  4. Full bibliography, table of cases and table of legislation cited (using OSCOLA conventions).
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A scanned copy of your supervisor log that you should be filling in to show when you have met with your suspervisor (for record keeping purposes. If you have not met your supervisor, the log should still be attached

You should use Ariel 12 or Times New Roman 12 font. The work should be double spaced. Margins should not be less than 2.5cm.

You are requested to keep a copy of your work.

The Research Ethics Application Form (Stage 1) can be downloaded from:

When completing the application form, please ensure that you have filled in Section 1: Researcher and Project Details, including ticking the boxes to indicate that you have understood and agree with each of the confirmation statements. You also need to complete the project summary box at the end of the page. A researcher unable to answer “yes” to the question in the summary box would be required to complete the Section 2: Research Ethics Checklist. As part of the reason of including ethics as part of this module, we require you to fill out Section 2: Research Ethics Checklist even if you can answer yes to the question at the end of Section 1.

Please then refer to the flow chart in Section 3: Approval Process. This indicates which route for ethical approval you need to follow. The research ethics review procedure is a risk-based approach.

It is compulsory for all undergraduate and masters students at Anglia Ruskin University to complete on-line ethics training and to successfully complete the quiz at the end of this, prior to

The link to access the training is

Much of your reading for your dissertation will be topic specific. However, set out below is some relevant literature relating to how to write a dissertation and how to do research follow the ReadingLists@Anglia link).


Anglia Ruskin runs workshops and provides online material relating to academic writing. These are accessed via Study Skills Plus

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Continue your journey with our comprehensive guide to Research methodology.

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