LEGAL490-19S (HAM)

Directed Study

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
Te Piringa - Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law Dean's Office


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Paper Description

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This paper is open to suitably qualified students who, with the approval of the Associate Dean Postgraduate, and under the supervision of one or more academic staff members with experience in the appropriate area(s), engage in research leading to the production of a research paper of not more than 10,000 words.
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Paper Structure

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The requirements for LEGALS490 are the directed preparation and presentation within one semester of a 1,500 word research proposal and an 8,500 word dissertation, being the equivalent of one Level 4 paper, in a designated area of law.

A student undertaking this paper must submit an application using the required form (available from the Student Administrator) identifying the preferred subject area and an appropriate supervisor(s) for the research from the list of staff available in the current LLM brochure produced by the Faculty. The maximum number of students per supervisor is three. Approval of enrolment is exclusively the decision of the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee following consultation with the preferred supervisor. The requirements of any particular research assignment will be determined following consultation between the student and the designated supervisor(s) who has agreed to direct the study. A coherent research proposal of 1,500 words reflecting the theme and key content of the project, and including an annotated bibliography, should be submitted to the supervisor within four weeks of the start date of the relevant Semester. The supervisor(s) will guide the student in the development of the proposal, the research itself, and in the writing up of the results of the research. However, the responsibility for the research and its findings lies with the student. Students should understand that the research must be their own work and that they are responsible for what is presented.

Students must consult their supervisor(s) regularly (normally once every two weeks) concerning the progress of their research. Any substantial changes in the research project must be approved by the supervisor(s). Where an external organisation is involved, the student will be responsible for ensuring that any special requirements of that organisation are met. However, the supervisor(s) should normally be consulted before any research results are made available to an external organisation. Students who are engaged in human research must be reminded of the need to obtain approval from the Law Faculty’s Human Research Ethics Committee.

The results of the research are to be embodied in a research paper, dissertation or thesis. The final paper should be submitted to the supervisor(s) no later than 13 weeks after the start date of the relevant Semester.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a particular area of law; an ability to engage in and write up independent research; and to use legal writing skills appropriate for the required research paper, dissertation or thesis.
    This paper provides students of reasonable academic ability with some experience in legal research and writing and a greater opportunity for specialisation.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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The research proposal is the start of the research process and assists with getting you started on topic identification and topic refinement. You need to identify your core themes, substantive content, critiques and legal and other concepts and possible comparisons, as well as your methodology. As you discuss your topic with your supervisor(s), your ideas about aspects of the paper may change.

The research proposal should be 1,500 words in length and comprise:

  1. A Topic and Thesis Statement. This sets out in one or two paragraphs the topic you intend to research. The statement should open with the questions and issues which have stimulated your interest in the topic followed by an explanation of why these questions merit the research in the way you propose. The statement should include a tentative thesis statement in which you articulate the propositions upon which your research paper is focused and any conclusions which you anticipate may emerge from your research.
  2. An Annotated Structural Outline: this comprises an annotated outline of the structure of the proposed paper broken down into section headings. Under each heading you should provide a short explanation of how this section of the paper relates to the purpose of your research and your argument. Bear in mind the logic of the argument you want to make in support of the conclusion you aim to draw in answering your research questions.
  3. An Annotated Bibliography: this comprises an interim bibliography annotating the items of core literature that appear to be relevant to your topic.
  4. In some circumstances, additional material will be required, e.g., a timetable for the attainment of different objectives, a section on methodology, or an outline of ethical issues.

The research proposal is not binding. Research work inevitably keeps changing, right up to its completion. The process of putting a proposal together verifies that you have found at least one piece of work that appears to be viable, and have begun to think systematically about the issues it raises.

You may be required to amend your research proposal to ensure that you are adequately prepared to begin writing your research paper. The criteria involved in marking the proposal include:

  • Clarity of definition of the topic;
  • Logic, clarity and organisational structure of the outline;
  • Relevance of the annotated bibliography and quality of the annotations;
  • Proper use of the New Zealand Style Guide.

The research paper, dissertation or thesis must not exceed 8,500 words (including footnotes). In this paper the student must demonstrate the ability to:

  • Engage in a detailed and critical analysis of the law relevant to the topic;
  • Locate the topic in the relevant context(s);
  • Make appropriate comparisons, if relevant; and
  • Identify, discuss and analyse relevant core legal concepts.

Ethics Approval

The Faculty is supportive of human research, which includes the surveying or interviewing of individuals, members of various groups, or the wider community. However, those who wish to engage in such research require the prior approval of the Faculty’s Research Committee, which for this purpose, functions as the Faculty’s Human Research Ethics Committee. Please contact the Student Administrator for application forms or you may access the appropriate forms from the Law Faculty website: Those who wish to conduct research involving the Māori community must consult with the Te Piringa Committee and adopt such steps as are recommended by it to obtain approval for such research. In cases of doubt or difficulty, the Faculty’s Human Research Committee may refer the matter to the University Human Research Ethics Committee.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Research proposal
28 Jan 2019
12:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Research paper
17 Feb 2019
12:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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McLay, Murray & Orpin, New Zealand Law Style Guide (2nd edition, Thomson Reuters, 2011).
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Recommended Readings

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Mary-Rose Russell (ed), Legal Research in New Zealand (LexisNexis 2016).

Richard Scragg (ed), Legal Writing: A Complete Guide for a Career in Law (LexisNexis 2015).
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Other Resources

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As directed by the supervisor.
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Online Support

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Online support for this paper is provided via the Law Honours Forum or the Law Graduate Students Forum (as relevant) in Moodle. These Forums provide advice and guidance about research theory and methods that will also be relevant for Directed Study students.

If you require assistance with Moodle, or encounter any problems, please contact the Help Desk. You can send a message to Help Desk by using the instant message service in your paper’s Moodle site (from the participants list within the People block).

Alternatively, you can email them directly at or call 838 4008.
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Students should expect to spend around 150 hours in total on this paper.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Completed all required Year 3 papers, with a B grade average in completed Law papers.




Restricted papers: LAWS490

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