LEGAL995-19C (HAM)

Research Portfolio

120 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 2 publishable research papers of not more that 20,000 words each plus a research proposal for the SJD thesis of not more than 10,000 words.
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Paper Structure

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This paper requires fulfilment of an individually tailored programme that comprises the Research Portfolio which counts for 120 points. This programme includes attendance at selected seminars and attendance and presentations at cohort meetings, demonstration of expertise in an area of law through the production of two publishable quality research papers, and the production of a research proposal at the same level as a PhD proposal. The Research Portfolio ensures a sustained and rigorous approach to a specific area of law. Candidates must demonstrate expertise in an area of law and intellectual independence through the production of two publishable research papers in that area, and then demonstrate their ability to identify and develop an original topic at an appropriate level in the same area through the production of a thesis proposal.
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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.

    To qualify to enrol for the SJD, a candidate must:

    • have qualified for the award of a bachelors degree with honours or a masters degree, and must have achieved at least second class honours (first division) or distinction, or
    • have qualified for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy, or have passed qualifying papers at a satisfactory level, or
    • in exceptional circumstances have produced other evidence to the satisfaction of the Postgraduate Studies Committee that he or she has adequate skills and knowledge to proceed with the proposed research.
    In order to proceed to Part II of the degree candidates must gain a minimum grade of Pass, confirmed by an external examiner in the Research Portfolio.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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The 2 publishable research papers for the Part I Research Portfolio must not exceed 20,000 words each (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.

The research proposal for the Part II Thesis 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 (maximum) 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.

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 paper 1
  • Other: Hand in at School of Graduate Research
2. Research paper 2
  • Other: Hand in at School of Graduate Research
3. Research proposal for Part II Thesis
  • Hand-in: Department Office
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.

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 1200 hours in total on this paper.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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In order to proceed to Part II of the SJD degree candidates must gain a minimum grade of Pass, confirmed by an external examiner in the Research Portfolio.
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Restricted papers: LAWS995

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