The International Criminal Court is an unnecessary expense in tackling international crimes.

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This gives an opportunity to state the current issues around the topic, to outline the broad area of the research, and then identify the specific issue.

Aims and Objectives

Set out the aim or purpose of the research.

You may consider that there is legislation on a topic that has not been fully commented on. Or perhaps there is a great deal of commentary and you seek to point out certain themes. On the other hand you may wish to point out the lack of theme in cases referring to conflicts. You might like to look at the historical development asking to what extent the law has improved and how far problems remain. Alternatively you might look at an area of law and consider what reforms are required. Or you could just look at an area where there is little control and consider whether there should be more.

In the law our ‘data’ is usually cases, legislation, international treaties etc. These are usually readily available in libraries. Lawyers tend not to look at ‘original data’ in the form of questionnaires, interviews or observations in life. Exceptions are the composition of juries. Generally in the area of law ‘original data’ is difficult and therefore most supervisors recommend desk/library exercises.

Research Strategy

State how you intend to go about it. For example most research includes:

A review of the existing literature in law. This is a statement saying for the legislation and/or case law. You may then go on to refer to texts, articles or treaties that commentators have written. You should not list all the legislation and articles etc at this point in the proposal as most law dissertations are a desk/library exercise you will state that your starting point is the brief list in the bibliography, see later, and this will develop as the research progresses. The discovery of new commentary is a part of such deskwork. A good start is to look at the historical development of the law of a particular area. You can identify key changes and recognise what comments are out of date. As mentioned above this could form the whole purpose of your research.

An analysis of the existing literature. This is where you identify the criticisms, the advantages and disadvantages, the inadequacies in the law. You might sub divide this section by having a case study, which identifies particular problems. Sometimes researchers find that the case study becomes the focal point of the whole dissertation. A case study in law could be an actual case or series of cases that came before the courts. You could examine how the law was or was not applied.

An exploration of reform. How could the law be improved? Is it on balance about right?

If you were collecting ‘original data’ you would say how you would collect it analyse it, formulate your or another’s hypothesis and prove or disprove. However as stated above this is not recommended.

Ethical considerations

There are usually few, in any, in desk and library exercises as these are usually dealt with by good referencing and you can just say this.

Structure of the Research that is Proposed

Set out the section headings with a brief resume of each chapter.

A standard format is:

Current Law or problem
Analysis of current law or problem
Reform of current law or problem
The introduction will be a single sentence whereas part 3 on analysis may be a short paragraph.

The Bibliography

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