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Unit information: Socio-legal Research Methods in 2014/15

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Unit name Socio-legal Research Methods
Unit code LAWDM1007
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Bibbings
Open unit status Open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit aims to give students a strong grounding in a range of methods and ethical issues drawn from diverse fields of socio-legal scholarship. The latter will vary from year to year but may include:

  • the ethical implications of socio-legal research
  • feminist methodologies
  • critical legal studies
  • law and literary studies
  • legal consciousness

(For those students who will be undertaking in-depth empirical research it would be anticipated that they would also take units in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods in addition to this unit).

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

a) explain and critically assess a range of socio-legal methods and issues in research ethics;

c) utilise this knowledge and these methods in their writing and research In relation to c) they should be able to assess research proposals and develop their own research proposals, considering the usefulness and appropriateness of different methods as well as the ethical issues raised by a proposal This unit is also intended to improve skills relating to research – in particular, the ability to assess and write research proposals. The research proposal provides a means of assessing what they have learned throughout the unit and whether they are able not only to think critically about it but also to utilise it in devising their own programmes of research.

Teaching details

5 x 2 hour seminars

Assessment Details

2,000 word research proposal

Reading and References

  • Reza Banaker and Max Travers Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research

(Oxford: Hart 2005)

  • Simon Halliday and Patrick Schmidt Conducting Law and Social Research

(Cambridge: CUP, 2009)

  • Phil Thomas (ed.) Socio-Legal Studies (Dartmouth: Ashgate, 1997)
  • P Ewick & S Silbey, The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998)