Writing Law Dissertations

Michael Salter / Julie Mason  
Pearson Longman
Total pages
February 2007
Related Titles


Adopting a highly practical approach, this book shows the reader how to research and write a dissertation, covering the various stages – planning, identifying key issues, utilising the appropriate research methods, time management issues, and managing one’s supervision.

This book covers legal dissertation level research, embracing both LL.B. (undergraduate) and the specific demands of LL.M. dissertations.


  • Shows how to avoid common stylistic and substantive pitfalls
  • Discusses the pros and cons of adopting law and policy methods
  • Addresses the issues around conducting research, including approaches such as black letter, socio-legal, interpretive and experimental
  • A running example throughout the text illustrates the various points made in each section and provides continuity

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. How to Begin


      - Introduction

      - What is 'research'?

      - What is a 'dissertation'?

      - How to choose your dissertation topic

      - Specific suggestions for getting you started

      - Identifying the key issues and marginal issues in your dissertation

      - Is the research viable in practice?

      - Putting pen to paper

      - Conclusion



Chapter 2. Getting Along With Your Supervisor


                  - Introduction

                  - Choosing your supervisor

                  - When to choose

                  - What can you expect from your supervisor?

                  - The role of the dissertation supervisor

                  - Devise your own 'learning contract'

                  - At the beginning of your supervision

                  - Writing the dissertation

                  - Meeting your supervisor

                  - Reviewing draft chapters

                  - How much supervision?

                  - Making the most of constructive criticism and formative feedback

                  - Common problems with supervision

                  - Conclusion



Chapter 3. Selecting Suitable Approaches to the Conduct of Dissertation Research


                  - Introduction

                  - Resistance to methodological discussion

                  - Positive reasons for engaging in methodological discussion

                  - Recognising the implications of the tension between different research methodologies

                 - Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting an inappropriate methodology


Back Cover

'This is a book that is long overdue, and I am certain will be seized upon by tutors everywhere. It will serve students writing dissertations, and I might add, extended essays, very well indeed, combining pragmatic guidance on engaging in and managing research with the help of supervisors, with advice on the importance of methodological rigour.' Peter Billings – UWE


'I would love my dissertation and project students to have a copy'

Charlotte Smith – University of Reading


'This is an excellent book, full of practical guidance to help students cope with their first major piece of independent research' Catherine Elliott - City University



How should you choose your dissertation topic?  What is the best research method to adopt?  What is going to make your dissertation achieve the best grades?


Whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate law student, working on a dissertation for the first time is an exciting yet often daunting experience.  Writing Law Dissertations provides a clear, helpful and honest guide to every stage of the research and writing process specifically for law students, and answers the many questions that face first-time researchers.  This essential reference book is uniquely based on the experiences of real law students, and draws on the authors’ extensive knowledge to help you to enjoy and succeed in your legal research project.


The book gives comprehensive guidance on:


  • Choosing a topic and getting started


  • Working effectively with your supervisor


  • Time management


  • Adopting appropriate research methods


  • Understanding theoretical approaches: black-letter, feminist, sociolegal, historical and interpretive.




About the authors


Michael Salter is Professor of Law at the Universityof Central Lancashire.  He has teaching experience in degree level courses in property law, equity and trusts, land law, human rights law and research methods.  He is also Postgraduate Coordinator.

Julie Mason is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the Universityof Central Lancashire, with teaching interests in the areas of family law, sentencing and the treatment of offenders, criminology and lawyer's skills.