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Unit information: Advanced Legal and Socio-Legal Research Methods in 2020/21

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Unit name Advanced Legal and Socio-Legal Research Methods
Unit code LAWDM0084
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Cowan
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a core element in the MSc in Socio-Legal Studies. It concentrates on advanced legal and, more specifically, socio-legal research methods. It includes: statutory interpretation and precedent; doctrinal legal methods (including library based research and case analysis); socio-legal methods (including examination of a range of methods and ethical issues drawn from diverse fields of socio-legal scholarship). The latter varies but may include consideration of feminist scholarship, legal consciousness, research ethics and draws upon a range of interdisciplinary sources from the social sciences and humanities.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • explain and critically assess the structure and methods of the English Legal System;
  • explain and critically assess a range of socio-legal methods and issues in research ethics;
  • 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 Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

5,000 word research proposal (100%)

This assessment will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

  • William Twinning and David Meirs, How to Do Things with Rules (Cambridge:CUP, 2010) 5th ed;
  • C F Stychin and Linda Mulcahy, Legal Method: Text and Materials, 4th ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2010);
  • Simon Halliday and Patrick Schmidt Conducting Law and Social Research (Cambridge: CUP, 2009) ;
  • Reza Banaker and Max Travers Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research (Oxford: Hart 2005); Phil Thomas (ed.) Socio-Legal Studies (Dartmouth: Ashgate, 1997)