Introduction to MPhil/PhD Legal Research Methods

Introduction to MPhil/PhD Legal Research Methods
8 January 2018, 10.00am - 19 January 2018, 4.30pm
Research Training
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR


Course Director:  Professor Lisa Webley, University of Westminster and IALS.  Teaching staff will include:   Professor Diamond Ashiagbor, Professor Avrom Sherr, Dr Constantin Stefanou, Sylvie Bacquet, Marc MasonDr Judith Townend.

Dates:  Formal Classes run from 8 January to 17 January 2018 and will consist of 16 2½ hour sessions. Meetings for Further Assistance with Method & Feedback Exercises will take place on 18 and 19 January 2017.

Who should attend:  This course is suitable for research students undertaking the MPhil/PhD/LLD, or similar level of research.

Aims and Objectives:

This course aims to introduce a range of research methodologies  that may be relevant to MPhil/PhD research in law and legally related fields.  It also aims to improve your doctrinal research methods and/ or socio-legal research and allied skills depending on the parallel sessions that you choose to attend.  At the end of the course you should:

  • be familiar with the main schools of research theory;
  • be able to explain the relative merits and demerits of basic qualitative and quantitative research methodologies for a given legal research project;
  • be familiar with and have an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods (if you have selected these sessions as part of your optional classes);
  • be able to select an appropriate legal research methodology for a given legal research project and be aware of how you would go about using the methodology;
  • be able to use each of the main legal research techniques for a given research project;
  • be able to assess the relative importance of the main legal research techniques for a given research project;
  • have a basic understanding of data analysis issues, whether doctrinal or empirical;
  • be able to present legal research findings more effectively.

Course Outline

  • Introduction to Ph.D. research & theories of research; 
  • Reviewing the literature;
  • Defining the question and research design (design, reliability, validity and integrity)
  • Digital Methods in Legal Research: harnessing digital media to recruit, to collect, to disseminate
  • Policy analysis;
  • Qualitative Methods (1) Interviewing & group interviewing; (2) Participant observation & 3rd party observation; and (3) Analysis of qualitative data;        
  • Quantitative Methods (1) Survey research; and (2) Data analysis;
  • Comparative and case study research;
  • Research plan review and next steps;
  • Foreign and international legal research;
  • Electronic legal research;
  • Note-taking, Organisation & data management; Written style & writing issues;
  • Legal writing: finding your voice as an academic writer

Note 1: the sessions listed above may vary from year to year.

Note 2: There is no formal (summative) assessment on this course although there are opportunities for you to receive feedback on your ideas and on written work.

Course Fee: £490.00


1) SAS MPhil/PhD students should contact Belinda Crothers, IALS Academic Programmes, direct about attending; 

2) QMUL MPhil/PhD students should contact the QMUL PhD Administrator, direct about attending.

General enquiries -


SAS Events Office
020 7862 8833