LEGAL900-19C (HAM)

Law PhD Thesis

120 Points

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


Edit Staff Content




Placement Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)



You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
Edit Staff Content

Paper Description

Edit Paper Description Content
The PhD degree is appropriate for students who wish to develop their capability for sustained and advanced scholarly research, and who already possess the ability to carry out research on an independent basis. The PhD normally requires three years of full-time study, although it may be completed part-time.
Edit Paper Description Content

Paper Structure

Edit Paper Structure Content
The research findings are presented in the form of a major 100,000 word (maximum) thesis. PhD research is conducted under the supervision of a panel which includes members of the academic staff, and in some cases, others from outside the university who have special expertise in the particular thesis topic.
Edit Paper Structure Content

Learning Outcomes

Edit Learning Outcomes Content

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.
    The University's Higher Degrees Committee administers the PhD degree, and enrolment requires that committee's approval. The subject for a PhD thesis must be defined and developed in close consultation with relevant staff in the School. Enrolment is available to candidates who have completed an LLB (Hons) or LLM degree with a B+ minimum GPA.
    Linked to the following assessments:
Edit Learning Outcomes Content
Edit Learning Outcomes Content


Edit Assessments Content

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 10,000 words in length (maximum) 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 thesis must not exceed 100,000 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.

All applications for ethics approval should generally be reviewed and responses returned within two weeks.
Edit Additional Assessment Information Content

Assessment Components

Edit Assessments Content

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
  • Hand-in: Department Office
2. Thesis
  • Other: Hand-in to the School of Graduate Research
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
Edit Assessments Content

Required and Recommended Readings

Edit Required Readings Content

Required Readings

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

Recommended Readings

Edit Recommended Readings Content

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).
Edit Recommended Readings Content

Other Resources

Edit Other Resources Content
As directed by the supervisor.
Edit Other Resources Content

Online Support

Edit Online Support Content

Online support for this paper is provided via the Law Honours Forum or the Law Graduate Students Forum (as relevant) in Moodle.

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.
Edit Online Support Content


Edit Workload Content
Students should expect to spend around 3600 hours in total on this paper over 3 years.
Edit Workload Content

Linkages to Other Papers

Edit Linkages Content
Enrolment is available to candidates who have completed an LLB (Hons) or LLM degree with a minimum B+ GPA.
Edit Linkages Content