Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM687: Socio-Legal Research Skills

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Aims

This module builds on the generic research training modules provided in Methodology and Research Skills in Sociology (SOCM008), Philosophy of the Social Sciences (HPSM002A), Qualitative Methods in Social Research (POLM063), Applied Quantitative Data Analysis (POLM809) and the subject specific module Approaches to Research in Law (ESRC remit students) (LAWM686).  It first considers debates surrounding methodological issues in and analytical techniques appropriate to socio-legal research as contrasted with but complementary to doctrinal legal research and encourages a critical approach through the use of the 'reflective log' following each staff-led seminar. It then develops knowledge and understanding of how a wide range of data sources and methods of data collection are used in empirical research in law and the ethical issues social research of this nature raises and how these are addressed. The limitations of comparative and cross-cultural research are also considered. The module particularly aims to make students aware of the methodological and technical demands of research at an advanced level, addressing skills that subsequently will be exercised through their M.Res dissertation (LAWM640). Through the practical workshops, the module aims to provide students with data presentation and dissemination skills by giving individual and group feedback as appropriate.
This module is an important foundation for the dissertation and it develops the student's awareness of the rigours of the socio-legal research process at an advanced level.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate awareness and comprehension of the diversity of data and information utilized in socio-legal research;
2. Be able to locate and access legal data using a range of research skills and legal databases.
3. Be able to recognize and critically evaluate the diversity of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting and analysing empirically gathered research data, both quantitative and qualitative, in a socio-legal context;
4. Be able to critically evaluate in writing and orally the issues involved in application of research design to socio-legal research questions
5. Be aware of the range of ethical issues involved in empirical research in law
Discipline-Specific Skills6. Be able to identify and critically evaluate methods of data collection appropriate to socio-legal research;
7. Be able to collect and synthesize legal and socio-legal information/ data in writing and orally and show an awareness of the ethical implications of data collection and analysis;
8. Understand the utility and limitations of collecting and comparing data from different jurisdictions
9. Understand the utility and limitations of collecting and comparing cross-cultural data
Personal and Key Skills10. Be able to use Information Technology effectively and appropriately to locate and extract data from a variety of sources;
11. Be able to critically reflect on the process of data collection and analysis and evaluate strengths and weaknesses;
12. Be able to use a range of well-known data analysis packages;
13. Be able to undertake independent/self-directed learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
14. Be able to write up and present research findings in a systematic way.