It is something inconceivable for a constructor to build a house without drawing plans or designs at a prior stage. It is also true that the most prosperous investors are those who have based their strategies on an attentively and meticulously prepared planning by the slightest details. The same holds true in scientific research where the best productions are more often those which result from a very serious preparation of the different stages of the whole work.
This course of research methodology aims at providing students with a practical tool, for improving their research skills and to enable them to better structure their law research works. These course notes are intended to serve as a small guide to be used by students for preparing and conducting research works in law.
This course is intended for students of 3rd year in law (LLB III) at University of Kigali (UoK) in order to equip them with basic knowledge and skills of drafting a dissertation. It is worth noting that according to UoK’s internal regulations, for a student to obtain an undergraduate (bachelor) degree he/she must have written and presented a personal and original scientific research work known as Mémoire or dissertation. A dissertation is defined as “a written thesis, often based on original research for a higher degree.” In other words, a dissertation is a written report on an in-depth research on a given topic that a student has carried out as part of the requirements of obtaining a degree at the university. At UoK, the dissertation is presented not only at the end of the last year of the undergraduate studies, i.e year III but also at the master’s level.
Given the fact that for most of the students, be they in last year, research is a new undertaking, it is expected that this introductory course will help them in navigating these uncharted waters. We expect that that on the completion of this course , students will be able to undertake with confidence a law research, to write down their dissertations and even scientific articles.The purpose of this course is to impact 3rd year students with knowledge and skills in research methodology typically used in the various fields of law in order to complete a research proposal for their LLB curriculum. Therefore, this course is designated to trying to enable them to start the process of research for their dissertations and, as such, to help them overcome this hurdle and the misconception of its hardship which goes with it.
Thus, this course aims at providing students with the main principles and techniques of conducting a legal scientific research in a systematic manner and to initiate them to different documentary legal sources. Therefore, this course is basically a legal research methodology.
The research methodology, like any other course in research skills, is a practical course. Students are supposed to learn by doing. That is why in this course a particular stress will be put on assignments covering the whole learning process. Students are expected to learn how to find and exploit easily legal materials and how to produce scientific pieces of work meeting high education standards.
2. Objectives of the course
At the completion of this course, it is expected that students should be capable of:
§ gaining knowledge and skills in research methodology typically used in law;
§ choosing a research topic;
§ conducting a documentary research and exploratory research if necessary;
§ drafting a research proposal;
§ presenting references;
§ presenting and communicate outcome of the research.
3. Study material
The study material for this course consists of this course notes only. However, additional reading material will be provided if need be.
4. Class attendance and evaluation
Attending to all class sessions is necessary and mandatory in order to understand. Participation in practical works is compulsory.
In the perspective of course evaluation, students have to conduct practical group works and, if need be, to sit for test(s).
 See Art 72 of Internal Regulations of UoK, December 12, 2012. This Article reads: “Any programme of the second cycle studies at UoK must comprise an internship and the writing of a dissertation.”
 See Collins Softback English Dictionary, 1991 as cited by M. Salter and J. Mason, Writing Law Dissertations: An Introduction and Guide to the Conduct of Legal Research, Harlow, England, Pearson Longman, 2007, at 6. According to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of 2003 a dissertation is “a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done as a part of a course at college or university.” expect that, on completion of this course, students will be able to undertake with confidence a law research, to write down their law dissertations and even scientific articles.
- Module Team: Dr.Jean de Dieu ZIKAMABAHARI