How to write a Law Dissertation

| March 10, 2012 | 1 Comment

This article is aimed at those who are beginning the arduous task of writing a legal dissertation. Legal dissertations can be very complex and incorporate all of the sources of law: judicial precedence, academic writing in the form of journals and books, legislation and now of course European Law and, where relevant, International Law. The multiple tiers of law, combined with, for example, conflicting case law and obiter opinions from judges, render legal dissertations particularly difficult. What is of note is that legal dissertations tend not to follow the traditional structure of a dissertation and there is indeed some flexibility when writing your piece of work (see this post).

Of course such legal work should be written with precision: accurate and befitting a legal piece of work without any “waffle”. Each dissertation will be different but building a solid research base is absolutely vital. Consider this: for a 15,000 dissertation you should have over 70 books and journals (preferably more legal journals than books) and above 30 cases to demonstrate you have looked at the topic with sufficient probity. It is all about what you can handle. Remember there is a fine line between enough and too much. Nevertheless with a strong research base, a worthy topic and a coherent strategy to tackle the question there is no reason why you cannot write a 2:1 legal dissertation.

The next part of this introduction to legal dissertations now outlines some excellent ideas for dissertation topics. Naturally each of these topics has been created from scratch and each has sufficient merit to be a worthy topic of a dissertation. To make up these topics I have used a combination of books, journals and the law commission website (which is a brilliant source of ideas). By looking at the current areas of law reform one can easily see which subjects have currency.

For example think of what statutes have been introduced in recent years? Or controversial cases decided? For example is the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 ready to be analysed? The Act has been operational for a number of years and the topic could be very compelling if handled correctly. Always remember you will have to be in a position to make recommendations. Think to yourself – are you ready to recommend reform in a particular area of law? If the area of law is settled and working beautifully (which is, thankfully rare given the dynamic nature of the law) perhaps you should be looking at another area. In my opinion the best areas are those which are very much ripe but as yet understudied and not properly understood.

So the Corporate Manslaughter example above becomes a very strong topic to look at – there is undoubtedly enough material and also a chance to prove you have a keen analytical eye for new cases etc. Be on the lookout for Supreme Court/House of Lords cases as well which are often the tips of many icebergs and can be useful introductions to topics. For example the case of R (Purdy) v DPP (2009) EWCA Civ 92 was the last House of Lords case and was a controversial one. What is, in 2012, the current state of the law? Remember that the law changes each day so it is also vital to stay up-to-date and relevant.

Please click on the any of the following links for additional guide for your law dissertation:


Good luck writing.


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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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  1. Law Dissertation Topics | The WritePass Journal | March 10, 2012

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