The difference between writing at LLB and LLM level is significant. Not only are LLM dissertations normally longer, they require more in depth analyses and often a discussion of theoretical aspects of the respective legal subject under discussion.
Many students find the completion of their LL.M dissertation a daunting task as it will often be the first occasion that they have been asked to write such a lengthy, independently researched piece of work. Careful planning is key and students should be able to focus and adapt their ideas and arguments in order to obtain a good grade.
What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation, sometimes known as a thesis, is a document of 10,000 plus words which presents the findings of research into a specific area of the law studied during the course. The subject matter of the dissertation will usually be of a very specific nature requiring the student to demonstrate an in depth knowledge of the particular area of law interlaced with displaying an understanding of its interaction with other areas of the law and practice.
Choosing the topic
Students will be aware when they commence their LLM that they will have to complete a dissertation in order to complete the LL.M. Students should be aware during the course of their studies of areas of law which particularly interest them and begin a degree of preparation in order to formulate and refine their arguments throughout their course. A number of possible areas of research can be explored and a suitable area eventually chosen. Great care should be taken when choosing the subject matter of the LL.M dissertation as later on it will prove difficult and time consuming for the student to alter their mind.
The student should formulate a clear idea of their intended subject matter and should discuss this with their tutor to ascertain if it is appropriate for the purposes of an LL.M dissertation. Hopefully the student will have developed an interest in one or two areas of law and will have discussed these with the tutor during the course making the final decision a relatively easy one. Often the student will have to submit an outline or proposal of the intended dissertation before the topic is given final acceptance. The proposal or outline is very important and great care should be taken in its presentation and content.