What you will study
The module builds on the work undertaken in your previous LLM modules and equips you to undertake a significant piece of independent legal research. You'll learn how to:
- conduct a literature review
- select the appropriate research methods
- define a clear purpose for your research
- plan, organise, manage and carry out an extended independent research project
- develop skills in the written communication of research suitable for masters level
- write clearly and imaginatively, and with a sense of authority
- create a persuasive argument drawing on analysis of a range of primary and secondary sources
- consider any ethical implications of the research and how to manage these
- use an appropriate referencing system with consistency and accuracy.
The module materials are specifically designed to support you in six key areas: developing your research proposal, undertaking your literature review, choosing an appropriate research methodology, undertaking and analysing your research to form your own conclusions and the process of writing up your research.
Your choice of research topic will depend on your interests. The only stipulation regarding the research topic for your dissertation is that it must be related to an LLM law module you have studied at the OU and be linked to one (or more) of the themes of the LLM (international, comparative, regulation, human rights). Your tutor will help you to decide what is feasible.
The work you produce for your dissertation is not expected to be entirely original (originality is a requirement for a PhD), however your studies will require you to undertake a survey of the relevant existing literature and to be up to date as far as possible with recent literature, commentary and developments in your chosen research topic. You are expected to make effective use of OU library legal databases and other appropriate resources as you plan and conduct your research. Your work should include use of both primary and secondary sources of law.
A tutor will support you throughout your studies. They will provide advice on the appropriateness of your research plans, choice of methodology, literature review and support you through the writing up process. Your tutor's comments on your written work will be a key part of your teaching for the module, as well as a way of monitoring your progress.
During the module you'll produce four pieces of written work before submitting the dissertation itself. The first will be a draft of your research proposal on which you will receive feedback from your tutor. The second will enable you to explore different research methods. The third will be your final research proposal which must be approved by the W800 Board. The fourth piece of work will be a draft chapter of your dissertation. The fifth and final piece of work is the dissertation itself which will be marked by two tutors. Their recommendations will help to determine the result awarded by the Examination and Assessment Board.