module specification

LL5P50 - Legal Research Methods (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Legal Research Methods
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
114 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   A literature review on a legal topic of the student's own choosing.
Coursework 50%   A research proposal
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Afternoon
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

Legal Research Methods, which is offered in both the autumn and spring semesters, provides a detailed understanding of how to prepare for writing a dissertation or thesis on a legal topic.

Students will be given practical guidance on how to conduct advanced legal research from both primary and secondary sources; how to choose a viable research topic; how to write a research proposal; how to conduct a literature review; and how to choose the right methods and methodology for the dissertation.

In doing this, the students will be preparing themselves for conducting legal research in both an academic and professional field, as well as for writing a research dissertation at Level 6.

The aims of the module are as follows:

1. Students will acquire advanced knowledge of how to conduct independent legal research and how to organise, assemble and synthesise large amounts of legal material in order to identify legal problems.

2. Students will develop several key transferable skills, including independent research, critical analysis and cogent academic writing in the context of writing a research dissertation, emphasising the use of primary and secondary sources.

3. Students will enhance their employability by the development both of these skills, and by the practice of written communication activities (including summative) and oral communication activities (formative only).


1. The importance of legal research

2. Primary and secondary source research

3. The choice of topic

4. Writing a literature review

5. Writing a research proposal, including a viable title, and the structure and planning of the writing up

Learning Outcomes LO1 - LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and Teaching Strategy

Weekly two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar. 

The lecture will be used for:

• Dissemination of knowledge through an overview of each topic with detailed guidance on appropriate aspects;
• An introduction to relevant academic literature;
• Guidance on learning strategies;
• Use of WebLearn and IT resources;
• Whole group questions and discussion.

The seminar will be used for the development of skills necessary to attain the module learning outcomes through:

• Written and oral questions/answers designed to reinforce fundamental rules, principles and cases;
• A range of step-by-step analytical exercises;
• IT tasks, such as research of cases and statutes;
• Legal writing.

Blended Learning

All learning materials, previous examination questions and sample Q/A’s will be on WebLearn for use in directed private study.

Student engagement will be encouraged in both lectures and seminars through weekly use of WebLearn for access to all of the above materials.

There will be required use of the professional legal databases, especially Westlaw and Lexis Library, for legal research.

Opportunities for reflective learning/pdp

Each weekly seminar will contain space for students to reflect on what they have learnt in relation to the overall syllabus. There will be frequent feedback opportunities structured into the timetable and a range of sample answers posted onto WebLearn.

Students’ Study Responsibilities

The need for attendance, punctuality, preparation and engagement will be emphasised with particular reference to written and IT research, problem-solving, team-work, discussion, debate and critical awareness of the subject.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the students will be able to:

1. Conduct independent legal research, using primary and secondary sources;

2. Synthesise large amounts of legal material;

3. Identify a complex and/or controversial legal issue, which can be critically discussed in the context of a dissertation.

4. Conduct and write a literature review in the context of a chosen area of legal research.

5. Produce a compelling research proposal, including a viable title.

Assessment strategy

Coursework (2,000 words maximum)

This will comprise two pieces of written work, collectively no more than 2,000 words long, each piece worth 50% of the overall mark.


 The link to the Talis reading list will be provided when the module is due to start running.