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LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research data-versionlabel=2 > ANDLAWS450 Legal Research and Methodology data-versionlabel=2 >

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit allows Laws Honours degree students to undertake to write a thesis of 12,000 words (inclusive of footnotes) with a significant component of research. The Unit is delivered on an individual student basis in coordination with a supervisor who supports, advises, monitors the progress of, and confirms the thesis is ready for examination. Students will meet regularly with supervisors to develop and support a timely completion. The timeline to completion includes significant research, writing, and editing, and should include at least one full draft submitted to the supervisor for feedback prior to formal submission for examination. The aim of this unit is to develop a capacity to conduct independent and self-directed research in a specific and chosen area of law, which is evidenced in the writing of the completed thesis.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Effectively communicate a knowledge and application of research skills, methodology and technology (GA4, GA10); 

LO2 - Demonstrate a capacity to conduct independent, self-directed research (GA8); 

LO3 - Develop advanced conceptual and critical analysis skills and consolidation of cumulative, sequential discipline knowledge (GA5); 

LO4 - Communicate a capacity for critical identification of problems requiring research and to develop appropriate methodology to collect, analyse and interpret data (GA4);  

LO5 - Complete, to a high standard, a thesis with a significant component of research (GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will be specified on an individual-basis between students and supervisors, but should include: 

  1. Choosing a title for your thesis; 
  2. Developing a timeline for completion with defined dates for drafts, feedback, and edits; 
  3. Locating and evaluating relevant legal material for thesis research; 
  4. Writing a legal thesis, including the ability to formulate a thesis; to frame a discussion or argument; and to critically self-evaluate, edit, and revise writing. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode:       On an individual student basis in coordination with each supervisor. 

Duration:     12 week semester. You should anticipate undertaking 450 hours of study for this unit, including      research, reading, writing, editing and supervision. 

This level four unit allows students to develop advanced research and writing skills. Students will complete a 12,000 word thesis.  

The unit takes a blended learning approach to provide accessibility and flexibility to our students and a student focused approach that increases depth of learning and engagement through actively utilizing the materials provided via LEO and in coordination with the supervisors. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment in this Unit is designed to enable students to demonstrate a high level of analytical, research, presentation and writing skills. In order to pass this unit, you are required to submit your Honours thesis, with approval from your supervisor, and achieve an overall score of 50 per cent. Every Honours thesis will be examined by two examiners appointed by the National Head of School or nominee. This may include one internal and one external examiner and will exclude your supervisor. Each examiner will be requested to provide a grade and numerical mark for the Honours Thesis. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Honours Thesis 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Recommended references 

Bott, Bruce and Ruth Talbot-Stokes, Nemes and Coss’ Effective Legal Research (LexisNexis Butterworths, 7th edition, 2018) 

Cane, P. and Kritzer, H., The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research (Oxford University Press, 2012) 

Fajans, E. and Falk, M., Scholarly Writing for Law Students (West Publishing, 5th edition, 2017) 

Volokh, E., Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers (5th edition, 2016) 

Beazley, M. and Edwards, L., The Process & The Product: A Bibliography of Scholarship about Legal Scholarship (1998) 40 Mercer L Rev 471 

Mike McConville and Wing Hong Chui (eds), Research Methods for Law (Edinburgh University Press, 2nd edition, 2007) 


Further references 

Becker, H., Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about your Research while You're Doing it (University of Chicago Press, 1998) 

Gibaldi, J., MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Modern Language Association of America, 7th ed, 2009) 

Murray, R., How to Write a Thesis (Open University Press, 4th edition, 2017) 

Richardson, L., Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences (SAGE, 1990)  

Rodrigues, D., The Research Paper and The World Wide Web (Prentice Hall, 1997) 

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