Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module LAW54690: Dissertation III

Department: Law

LAW54690: Dissertation III

Type Open Level 4 Credits 90 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The opportunity to write a dissertation is designed to bring a greater element of research into the LLM by allowing students the opportunity to pursue in depth any areas which are of particular interest to them, under the supervision of a member of staff with appropriate specialist expertise. The LLM dissertation may be up to 20,000 words (equivalent to 90 UCU). Students presenting a dissertation are required to submit it by 15 September of the year following entry.


  • No syllabus as such is appropriate for this module. [See Appendix A - Extract from the current LLM Handbook. A full revised version will be produced before the introduction of the new LLM Programmes (October 2003), taking account of the current assessment policy in the University's Core Instructions to Examiners for Masters programmes, and the Teaching and Learning Handbook].
  • Dissertations may be presented on a topic chosen by the candidate provided that:
  • (a) the topic chosen falls generally within the streams offered by the LLM Programme;
  • (b) it is approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies.
  • The candidate shall make every effort to identify a topic for dissertation as soon as possible, but certainly before the end of the Michaelmas Term. For general guidance on the matter, the candidate may consult any member of staff responsible for LL.M. teaching.
  • A definitice topic for a dissertation and provisional title indicating the precise subject matter and scope thereof shall be submitted by the end of Michaelmas Term.
  • The Chair of the Board of Studies shall formally approve the topic of dissertation and appoint a supervisor.
  • Subsequent changes in the topic may be approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies if the candidate so requests, reasonable grounds being shown.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a detailed knowledge of a specified field of law chosen by the student and approved by the Board of Studies;
  • to evaluate critically and work from those materials to arrive at a clear and defensible opinion on the issues;
  • to offer a personal and justifiable opinion on the effectiveness of specific laws relating to the dissertation topic and the desirability for their reform,
  • to recognize and understand competing arguments on reform
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the ability to identify accurately legal material relevant to those issues selected (whether print-based or electronic),
  • Plan and investigate a theory or argument in the context of a particular area of law.
  • Critically analyse and evaluate an aspect of current law in the light, where this is appropriate, of internal considerations (such as inherent inconsistencies) and external considerations (social, political, moral and commercial pressures).
Key Skills:
  • the ability to exercise the above skills independently (with some supervision) on a substantial project requiring work over the academic year.
  • to communicate their knowledge and argument in writing with clarity and confidence in a substantial dissertation

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Every supervisor shall meet with their supervisee to agree the structure of the dissertation and to approve the bibliography.
  • The candidate may meet the supervisor from time to time at the discretion of the latter.
  • The purpose of the meetings shall be one or morw of the following:
  • (i) to review and discuss the synopsis;
  • (ii) to give general guidance as regards the subject matter, scope and content of the proposed dissertation.
  • (iii) to propose variations, amendments and necessary changes to the topic outlined;
  • (iv) to indicate appropriate legal sources and materials;
  • (v) to resolve particular difficulties encountered by the candidate;
  • (vi) to offer editorial comments on the dissertation.
  • The candidate shall assume full responsibility for the progress and completion of the dissertation within the stipulated time limit set by the Department, namely 15 September in the year following admission to the course.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Contact Hours 6
Individual Study 894
Total 900

Summative Assessment

Component: The Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation. 17,500-20,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Each supervisor is expected to read and comment on at least one draft.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University