LL4F9      Half Unit
Legal Research and Writing Skills

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joanne Braithwaite NAB7.28


This course is compulsory on the Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This half unit course on Legal Research and Writing has a taught component focusing on research and writing skills and a 10,000 word stand-alone dissertation, to be written in a substantive law area of the student’s choice.

The two components will be carefully integrated. Over the course of this half unit, students should gain a better understanding of:

  • The nature of research in general; the distinctive features (if any) of legal research and the range of questions and research methodologies to be found within legal scholarship
  • Doing legal research, including research design, resource identification and searching for relevant materials; legal referencing and citation skills.
  • Writing skills, relating to both the process of writing, as well as the end product; presenting findings to different audiences etc.

Topics for the lectures will be: (1) Choosing your dissertation topic; (2) Research methods; (3) Writing skills; (4) Library skills. 

The two tutorials will have a 4-on-1 format and will focus on: (1) Preparing your research proposal; (2) Writing skills.


8 hours of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Teaching will consist of: (a) Four 120 minute lectures in LT; (b) One 60 minute tutorial in LT and one 60 minute tutorial in ST; (c) One 120 minute library workshop. The course also runs a series of Evening Workshops on topics such as 'Plagiarism' and 'Dealing With Writers-Block'.

Formative coursework

Students will be invited to submit one page of writing for the tutorial on 'Writing skills'.

Indicative reading

Booth, Colomb & Williams, The Craft of Research (3rd ed, 2008, Uni of Chicago Press)      

Watkins & Burton, Research Methods in Law (Routledge, 2013)

Franklin, ‘Theory Saved my Life’ (2005) New York City Law Review 599

Osbeck, ‘What is “Good Legal Writing” and Why Does it Matter?’ U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 252 (23 Sep, 2011).

Khan, ‘A Compendium of Legal Writing Sources’ (2011) Washburn Law Journal 395.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) post-summer term.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2014/15: 267

Average class size 2014/15: 5

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information