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Finding Materials for your Dissertation

Planning your literature search

In order to research your dissertation, you will need to carry out a search of the literature which has been written on your topic. This will involve looking at relevant cases, legislation, books and journal articles. 

In addition - depending on your topic - you may also need to look at parliamentary publications, official documents, conference papers, newspaper articles, and many other sources. Remember that when you are looking at material which is freely available on the Internet, you need to consider the material's accuracy, authority, currency, objectivity and intended audience.

It pays to plan your search strategy in advance. Think about:

  • the scope of your dissertation (how far back in time are you researching; which jurisdictions are you looking at?)
  • appropriate keywords for your search
  • which sources you want to search (N.B. other sections of this Guide explain how to look for books, journal articles, cases, legislation, EU law and international law)

When you find a potentially useful source, be sure to capture all the information about it that you will need for citing and referencing.  With many databases it is also possible to save searches so that you can re-run them at a later date, thereby saving yourself time.

What if you can't find the material you need in the Library?

It is important that you carry out a search of our library collections using our search tool - CityLibrary Search.  This will search not only our collections at all Library sites (the Innovation Centre Law Library, the Gray's Inn Place Law Library, Cass Business School Library and the main University Library at Northampton Square).

If we do not have a particular journal or book within our collection, it may be possible for you to request it via inter-library loan or to visit another Library to access it. For further details, see Beyond City Law School Library

Researching outside the law?

If your dissertation topic covers law and another subject, e.g. law and medicine, law and journalism, law and banking, you can find useful resources through our listing of library subject guides.

Useful books to help you with your dissertation

LLM Library Workshops

'Researching your Dissertation' Library training classes are held during the summer each year and will be advertised here.  Alternatively, if you would like to book a one-to-one session with a member of library staff, please email us at

The slides to accompany the training classes are available on the LLM Dissertation Support module on Moodle, under the section 'Preparing for your Research Project'.

LLM Dissertation Support on Moodle

Moodle (Logo)  There is a module available on Moodle to help you with the preparation of your dissertation.  

The module - entitled LLM Dissertation Support - draws on resources created by the academic staff at The City Law School, as well as links that we think will be useful to you.  It also includes five sample dissertations for you to look at. 

The module is separated into ten chapters and is designed to take you from the beginning stages of planning your research project, through the writing-up stage and finally to the presentation of your citations and references.

OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities)

You must use the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) in order to reference your dissertation sources.  This involves creating footnotes and providing a bibliography. 

Guidance on using OSCOLA is contained in your Dissertation Handbook. In addition, you may wish to consult the OSCOLA guide and other resources which are available from the OSCOLA webpage.