The dissertation is an independent research essay of up to 12,000 words, which is researched and written under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The model for the dissertation is the law journal article or law review essay. This is different from doctoral research. The student is not expected to develop an original thesis, but when finished should demonstrate a solid understanding of a particular aspect of law and the ability to explain and criticise it convincingly. The LLM dissertation does not merely describe the law, but presents an argument.
The dissertation module has several aims. Every student will learn more about a particular aspect of law in depth and enhance her or his ability to develop and make a cogent argument, research efficiently and comprehensively, and write for a legal audience. The dissertation adds breadth to the programme since supervision is available for a wide range of topics beyond those offered through the taught modules. The opportunity to pursue the project under the individual supervision of a member of academic staff is often a very special part of the LLM programme for each student.
In term one, the student will contact potential supervisors, and by the end of term, will arrange supervision and a particular area of law as the subject of the dissertation. Early in term two, the student and supervisor will agree the research topic and an outline for the dissertation. Research and writing continues in terms two and three and throughout the summer. The supervisor provides advice and comments on a draft portion of the dissertation. Additional support is provided by legal research and writing mentors.
The list of supervisors and the areas in which they provide supervision is found at the link below. Please note that this list is subject to change and will be updated throughout the year, so do check it from time to time. Please also note that even if a supervisor is available, he or she might not be able to supervise you. There is a limit to the number of dissertations that one person can supervise effectively each year, so you may find that your dissertation is supervised by an alternative choice. All our supervisors are experts in their fields and happy to help you reach your full potential.
The best preparation for the dissertation is to read articles in respected journals in related areas of law. You are encouraged to do this before you arrive at UCL.