|Semester||Semester 3 (Summer)|
Choice of topic
The dissertation may be on any topic relating to you choice of LLM (ie. Environmental or Business Law) for which supervision
is available within the Department of Law. It may relate to one of the areas covered in the modules studied - in practice, most
students choose a subject relating to one of these areas - but this is not a requirement. Although you are welcome to seek
advice on whether your proposed topic is appropriate (see further below) the topic must be chosen by you: staff will not
suggest topics to you.
The dissertation must contain a significant legal content, but need not be confined to traditional legal issues or methods of
analysis. It may, for example, involve a socio-legal approach, a mixture of law and economics, or legal/scientific analysis. It
may focus on the law of the United Kingdom or the law of another jurisdiction or jurisdictions; it may involve a comparative
analysis of different jurisdictions; or may focus on international law. These statements are all subject to the general principle that
adequate supervision must be available for the chosen topic. If at any time you are in doubt as to whether your chosen topic
will have or has a sufficiently high legal content you should consult an appropriate member of staff, or, where you have already
been allocated a supervisor, your supervisor.
2. Registration and commencement
Students may normally register for the dissertation and commence work only when they have passed the assessment for the
coursework modules. Registration by students who have not passed the assessment is permitted only with the written
permission of the Director of the Law Examination Board. Permission will be given only in exceptional circumstances.
3. Supervision procedure
Once you have contacted your supervisor, you and your supervisor should work out a plan for proceeding with the
dissertation. It is expected that normally you will provide a detailed synopsis and/or research plan within a few weeks of
registration, but this is a matter for you to decide in conjunction with your supervisor. Your supervisor will then consider your
synopsis/plan and either give approval or suggest any appropriate modifications. You are advised not to begin further work on
the project until this approval has been obtained.
General guidance relating to the design of your research project and research strategy (how to collect and analyse your
materials etc) will be given as part of the Induction and Advanced Legal Skills course. In addition, you can expect that your
supervisor will provide you, on request, with advice relating to strategy for your own specific dissertation. However, the
responsibility for designing that strategy rests with you, since part of the purpose of the dissertation exercise is to test your
research skills. Your supervisor's role in this matter is therefore limited to providing advice in response to your own suggestions
as to how to proceed.
You can also expect your supervisor to read a draft of your work before it is submitted, and to give suggestions about how the
work could usefully be improved. You may submit your draft in parts - for example - on a chapter by chapter basis, or as a
whole. It is likely that your supervisor will have some suggestions to make, since there is usually room for improvement. You
are advised very strongly to follow the advice given. Your supervisor may not, however, give you any specific indication of the
grade you are likely to receive.
You should feel free to seek the advice of your supervisor at any stage of your work. If at any stage you are in doubt as to
whether your work is developing in an appropriate way, or over how to deal with a problem - for example, difficulty in
collection data or materials - you should ask your supervisor's advice immediately. However, your supervisor cannot write
your dissertation for you, and cannot normally look at repeated drafts.
In submitting your draft you must make sure:
(i) that you give your supervisor adequate time to read the draft and
(ii) that your leave yourself adequate time to revise the draft to take account of any comments made.
In doing so, you should bear in mind that your supervisor will be taking a holiday at some point during the year, and that he or
she has other commitments and cannot therefore normally read your dissertation overnight! To ensure that you leave sufficient
time it is best to inform your supervisor as far in advance as possible when you hope to submit a draft, and to agree a date for
him/her to read and comment upon it. You should remember that it may take at least two weeks to receive a response and, in
some cases (for example if your supervisor is away) considerably longer.
4. Length and format of the dissertation
The maximum length for the dissertation is 20,000 words. It should be emphasised that this is a maximum and it is not
necessary to write this amount. The appropriate length will depend to some extent on the nature of your research: for example,
dissertations involving extensive collection of data as part of the work tend to be shorter than other types of dissertation. In
practice, most students aim for around 15,000 words. The total word length should be calculated to include the main text and
any appendices, but to exclude your footnotes, bibliography, your declaration, preface, and any dedication. (For further
information on these documents see below). The word limit should be strictly adhered to. The examiners have the right to fail
any dissertation which exceeds the limit.
It is expected that the dissertation will normally be submitted in typed form.
You must attach to your dissertation a bibliography which refers to all the sources you have used in preparing your dissertation.
This must cover all the sources which you have consulted - not merely those which are referred to in your citations, or
which you found to be helpful.
Citations in the dissertation itself must be given in a style which is generally accepted in legal literature, and which is consistent
throughout the dissertation. You will receive guidance on citation style as part of the Induction and Advanced Legal Skills
5. Procedure for submission and documents required for submission
The dissertation must be submitted by 28th February 2000. A dissertation can only be submitted after this date if a formal
Extension of Time has been granted by the Head of Department (Professor John Williams)or Director of Postgraduate Studies
(Professor C Rodgers), in which case it must be submitted within the extended period allowed. A form of application for
extension of time is available in the Law General Office and must be used in ALL cases. Failure to submit the dissertation
within the period allowed may result in the candidate failing the Part Two (Dissertation Stage) of the LLM programme in which
event he/she will be able to receive a Diploma only.
The relevant Regulations are as follows:
Two typed and bound (see below) copies of the dissertation shall be handed by the candidate to the Postgraduate Secretary.
To be bound within the dissertation
(i) a declaration/statements page indicating
(a) that the work submitted has not previously been accepted in substance for any degree and is not being concurrently
submitted for any degree;
(b) that the dissertation is being submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the said degree;
(c) that the dissertation is the result of your own independent work/investigation, except where otherwise stated. Explicit
references should be given, and a full bibliography should be appended to the work.
(d) giving consent for the dissertation, if accepted, to be available for photocopying and for inter-library loan, and for the
title and summary to be made available to outside organisations
(Points (a) to (d) should be incorporated on a single page at the beginning of the dissertation).
(ii) a summary of the dissertation not exceeding 300 words;
Your dissertation must be accompanied by the following documents:
(i) A financial certificate. About one month prior to submission of the dissertation, you should obtain from The
Academic Office, Old College, King Street, Aberystwyth, a certificate provided by the University of Wales,
Aberystwyth, to show that all fees have been paid.
(ii) Two copies of the Notice of Candidature Form, which are available from the departmental Postgraduate Secretary.
Failure to hand in these forms along with the copies of the dissertation could result in a delay.
6. Binding of the dissertation
In order to enable students to make slight amendments (only with permission of the Examining Board) to their dissertations, or
to re-submit if requested, temporary binding of the initial dissertation is acceptable.
(i) totally unacceptable as temporary binding - loose sheets placed in a wallet file;
(ii) not suitable for temporary binding - spiral binding or ring-folder or lever-arch folder;
(iii) acceptable as temporary (but not as permanent) binding - perfect binding (as used in this document); spring-back
binding (provided that the binders are not over-filled) or; slid-in plastic binders (of the type used to hang posters on
Candidates are asked to bear in mind that temporarily-bound dissertations must be able to withstand handling, transit to and
from examiners and the examining process itself. Care must be taken to ensure that the form of any temporary binding used is
sufficiently secure not to burst or fall apart.
Whatever form of acceptable temporary binding is chosen, it is essential that the spine bear the candidate's name, College and
degree for which he/she is a candidate. Dissertations cannot be processed efficiently it this information is not given clearly on
the spine in a form which cannot easily erased or detached.Space may be saved by using shortened versions of College names, ie. U W Aberystwyth (rather than University of Wales, Aberystwyth).
Please do not hesitate to contact Angela James (Room D30) for advice on the submission of and binding of dissertations.
7. Examination procedure
Your dissertation will be examined by two internal examiners and an external examiner (someone from outside the University of Wales who is an expert in the subject of your dissertation).
You should note that the examination procedure takes some time - usually at least two months, and that once a decision has been made, you will receive your result directly from the University of Wales, Cardiff (usually by post).
8. Will I have to have a "viva"?
It is possible for the examiners to require you to attend a "viva" - an oral examination in which you will be asked questions about your dissertation. However, a decision to require a student to attend an oral examination is the exception rather than the rule.
9. Grading of the dissertation
Dissertations will be graded as follows:
Fail - A mark for the dissertation of less than 50%. The dissertation shows a minimal understanding of the chosen topic and its subject matter, contains substantial omissions and/or only limited use of relevant material. It may also display substantial errors and / or inclusion of irrelevant material.
Pass - A mark for the dissertation of 50% and above. A dissertation will be accorded this grade if it shows a satisfactory grasp of the main issues raised by the chosen topic, and familiarity with the basic literature and relevant legal texts.
Pass 60-70% - A mark of 60% and above. The dissertation displays a very good understanding of the relevant issues. The argument presented is well organised and well supported by a range of relevant sources. The dissertation shows a critical appreciation of the issues and insight into the problems associated with them.
Pass with Distinction - A mark of 70% and above. The dissertation displays an excellent understanding of the issues, and presents strong and well organised argument using a wide range of sources. The dissertation also shows evidence of original and independent thinking, and a high degree of critical insight into the methodologies and problems raised by its subject matter.
10. Plagiarism and unfair practice
PLAGIARISM amounts to an UNFAIR PRACTICE and, if detected, may lead to disciplinary proceedings being taken against any student engaging in such a practice.
It is regarded as unethical in academic terms to take another person's work and present it, or attempt to present it, as one's own. This is cheating, is a form of intellectual theft and a serious academic offence which can attract a serious penalty. Whether a student may gain anything from the practice is irrelevant. The underlying concern is to ensure proper acknowledgement and attribution of another person's ideas and material in so far as this contributes significantly to one's own academic argument. In essence, therefore, plagiarism is an unattributed use of somebody else's work with the intention of presenting it as one's own. In the context of all assessed work (essays, assignments, dissertations etc.) to be submitted in the law department at Aberystwyth it may be defined as follows:
It is an unfair practice for a student to engage in plagiarism, in the sense of deceiving, or attempting to deceive, the examiners by passing off as the candidate's own written work the work of another. This means that, except for attributed quotations, it will be an unfair practice either to copy substantial portions of another work or to re-write the work of another in the candidate's own words without attribution.
It is, on the other hand, permissible to adopt the arguments of another writer as long as the source is specifically acknowledged by an appropriate reference, either in the text or a footnote. Also, small sections of other works may be directly quoted in the conventional way (e.g. within quotation marks or in indented blocks). Again this must be properly attributed.
It should also be noted that an over-reliance on somebody else's material, even when properly quoted and referenced, will not attract a high mark. Although this does not amount to plagiarism, it may suggest that there is little evidence of a student's own contribution to the argument of his or her work.
COPYING is a form of plagiarism and therefore is an UNFAIR PRACTICE and, if detected, may lead to disciplinary proceedings being taken against any student engaging in such a practice.
It is an unfair practice for a student to copy directly and substantially the work of another student and pass this off as his or her own work. Moreover, a student who knowingly and willingly allows another student to copy his or her own work in this way will be party to an unfair practice and penalised in the same way.
Students are not discouraged from discussing problems or issues relating to set work amongst themselves or from forming 'study groups'; indeed each is a good idea. But a distinction should be drawn between working out problems together, which is legitimate, and copying each others' work, which is not acceptable. In other words, it is permissible to discuss subjects jointly, but any assessed work must be written up independently.
Examples of plagiarism and copying include:
unattributed quotation from a published source;
copying from the notes or essays of others;
submission of work actually written or dictated by others or materially attributable to them;
submission of work which has been memorised from a common source or otherwise jointly done;
unattributed use of other peoples' ideas or results.
The following simple guidelines are intended to help avoid problems.
1. Append a bibliography to your essay listing all the sources you have used.
2. Surround all direct quotations with inverted commas, and cite the precise source (including page numbers) either in a footnote or in parentheses directly after the quotation.
3. Except in the case of explicitly textual analyses, use quotations sparingly and make sure that the bulk of the essay is in your own words.
4. Remember that it is your own 'value added' that gives an essay merit. Whatever sources you have used, the structure and the presentation of the argument should be your own. To achieve this, you will find it helpful to 'distance' yourself from your sources by putting aside the books, etc, that you have used, and perhaps also the notes you have made on them, when you actually sit down to write.
But keep a sense of proportion in all this, and exercise judgement. For example, it is not generally necessary to attribute to a source statements which have passed into the public domain and become commonplace. Please remember that although we do not expect you to cite or attribute seminar material you should avoid copious direct quotations or near quotations, and should not rely wholly on seminar notes to form the structure of your essay.
Remember that where plagiarism occurs in the context of formal assessment or examinations, it constitutes an example of 'unfair practice', to which University of Wales regulations, procedures and penalties apply. Where it arises in other assessed work internal disciplinary procedures will apply.