LL4F9      Half Unit
Legal Research and Writing Skills

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Thomas Poole


This course is compulsory on the LLM (extended part-time) and LLM (full-time). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course on Legal Research and Writing has a taught component focusing on research and writing skills and a stand-alone dissertation (details about which may be found in the LLM Handbook), to be written in a substantive law area of the student’s choice.

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

• the nature of research in general; the distinctive features of legal research and the range of questions and research methodologies to be found within legal scholarship;

• how to conduct legal research, including research design, refining a research question, resource identification and searching for relevant materials; legal referencing and citation skills;

• how to develop legal writing skills, relating to both the process of writing, as well as the end-product; integrating a literature review; and presenting findings to a scholarly audience, etc.

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

The two tutorials will have a small group format (usually 4-5 students in each tutorial) and will focus on: (1) developing your research proposal; and (2) writing skills. One of the aims of the tutorials will be to prepare students for their two dissertation supervisions with faculty members.

The course will also offer the opportunity to participate in workshops. For example, there are skills sessions run by the LSE Library designed for students on this course to develop their legal research skills and awareness of the resources on offer in the LSE Library and beyond. The course also links in closely to the programme of workshops and events offered by the LSE Life centre, and the most relevant of these support sessions will be referenced on this course.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures throughout Michaelmas and Lent terms. Students will usually have additional hours in the Summer Term. This year teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus.

Formative coursework

Students will be invited to prepare a short writing samples and dissertation plans, etc., for their tutorials.


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

See the LLM handbook for full details and regulations about the dissertation.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 269

Average class size 2019/20: 6

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information