Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module LAW41115: Applied Research Methods in Law

Department: Law

LAW41115: Applied Research Methods in Law

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to M1K616
Tied to M1K316
Tied to M1KB16
Tied to M1K916
Tied to M1K116


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module aims to provide all postgraduate law students with appropriate, specialised knowledge of the range of research methods and skills available in legal studies and an advanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and of their relevance for different forms of legal research. The module will provide students with the skills and training to enable them to find primary and secondary sources for research, develop an understanding of producing written work, develop presentation skills and improve their understanding of the diverse forms legal analysis can take. The module creates a framework within which students can critically assess possible research topics in light of research methods issues and where they can design, discuss and develop a detailed research proposal in consultation with a prospective supervisor that meets the demanding standards of a postgraduate dissertation.


  • Research Skills
  • Using bibliographic databases
  • Literature reviews
  • Writing clearly and critically
  • Designing a research project
  • Presentation skills
  • Formulating research questions

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • design and outline a research project under guidance
  • select and formulate research topics and questions through an effective literature search
  • gain a better understanding of academic writing and research methodology
  • improve analytical and presentation skills
  • implement referencing and citation requirement for scholarly papers
Subject-specific Skills:
  • critically evaluate and present complex material in a clear and logical manner
  • formulate research questions at an advanced level
  • conduct a comprehensive literature search and perform legal analysis and reasoning in the UK context
Key Skills:
  • present and describe a topic in law in a clear and concise way and justify the choice of the dissertation topic and research methods
  • identify, collect and analyse relevant sources in electronic and print versions
  • design and outline a research project independently and refine the proposal based on in-class discussion and the feedback of peers and supervisors
  • summarize and analyse the findings and main arguments of other scholars in an accurate and comprehensible manner
  • write in a clear and structured way and develop constructive and well-grounded arguments to support research findings and main claims
  • deliver a succinct and clear oral presentation of research

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

  • The module will be taught through a mixture of lectures and seminar classes. The lectures will provide students with the key information, concepts and skills, while the seminars will provide students with the opportunity to develop these skills and engage in detailed discussion. Students will progressively acquire the knowledge necessary to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of the problems under consideration and to critically assess both primary sources (legislation, case law, Treaties) and secondary sources (scholarship, reports etc).
  • Students will also have to give presentations to their peers on research they have chosen and carried out. The module will be assessed by means of a 1500-word research proposal (100%)

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 Weekly 2 4
Seminars 6 Fortnightly 2 16
Preparation and Reading 130
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Proposal Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Proposal 1,500 words 100% RP 1,500 words

Formative Assessment:

The formative assessment will involve giving a presentation to a seminar group and completing a one-page research log in which students summarise and outline their dissertation proposal.

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