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Legal Studies Thesis

The Legal Studies Advanced Research Seminar is a two-quarter sequence (398-1 and 398-2) required for all Legal Studies majors. Students typically take the sequence in their Junior or Senior year. The sequence must be taken within one academic year, in consecutive Fall-Winter quarters (students cannot split up or skip either of the courses). The sequence is only available to Legal Studies majors.

This seminar exposes students to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to studying law and legal institutions; over two quarters, students develop their own research paper on a topic of interest.

All students in the Advanced Research Seminar are required to complete a thesis of 25-30 pages in length. Throughout the seminar, students work closely with faculty and teaching assistants to develop their theses. Faculty and teaching assistants will provide feedback, advice, and constructive criticism of students’ theses to help each student complete his or her project.

During the first course (398-1 in fall quarter) students will learn how to find and analyze primary and secondary sources (with the help of our reference librarian), how to construct a research question, how to choose research methods, how to write clearly and with precision, and how to engage existing scholarship. By the end of fall quarter, students will have a detailed research proposal and should have their thesis research well underway. During winter quarter (398-2) students will complete their research projects in close consultation with faculty and Graduate Teaching Fellows, and will present their projects to the class.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements of the Legal Studies thesis?

During the two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar, each student is responsible for producing a 25-30 page thesis based in original research and grounded in relevant scholarship. Students choose their own law-related topics in consultation with the instructor. Past topics have ranged widely, from the regulation of technical scientific questions, to empirical studies of legal rules, to analysis of law in literature, music, and film.

May I combine the Legal Studies thesis with a thesis in another major?

In certain cases, students who are combining an adjunct major or major in Legal Studies with a major in another field that also requires a senior research seminar may arrange to fulfill their Advanced Research Seminar requirement in a combined, but expanded, project. To be eligible for Weinberg Honors with a dual, or interdisciplinary thesis, there are a few extra steps to take. For more information, consult the Weinberg guidelines.

Are there research funds to support travel or other research expenses for the thesis?

Yes! Check out the following link for both Weinberg and University-wide sources of research funding