LEGAL994-19C (HAM)

SJD Thesis

120 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
Te Piringa - Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law Dean's Office


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Paper Description

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This paper is open to suitably qualified students who, with the approval of the Associate Dean Postgraduate, and under the supervision of one or more academic staff members with experience in the appropriate area(s), engage in research leading to the completion of a maximum 60,000 word thesis at the doctoral level with a value of 240 points.

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Paper Structure

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Part II of the SJD degree program requires the completion of a maximum 60,000 word thesis at the doctoral level with a value of 240 points. Candidates must undertake approved and supervised research, and present the results lucidly in a thesis which:

  • critically investigates an approved topic of substance and significance; and
  • demonstrates expertise in the methods of research and scholarship; and
  • displays intellectual independence, and
  • makes a substantial original contribution to the subject area and is of publishable quality.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a particular area of law; an ability to engage in and write up independent research; and to use legal writing skills appropriate for the required research paper, dissertation or thesis.

    To qualify to enrol for the SJD, a candidate must:

    • have qualified for the award of a bachelors degree with honours or a masters degree, and must have achieved at least second class honours (first division) or distinction, or
    • have qualified for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy, or have passed qualifying papers at a satisfactory level, or
    • in exceptional circumstances have produced other evidence to the satisfaction of the Postgraduate Studies Committee that he or she has adequate skills and knowledge to proceed with the proposed research.

    In order to proceed to Part II of the degree candidates must gain a minimum grade of Pass, confirmed by an external examiner in the Part I Research Portfolio.

    Linked to the following assessments:
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The thesis must not exceed 60,000 words (including footnotes). In this paper the student must demonstrate the ability to:

  • Engage in a detailed and critical analysis of the law relevant to the topic;
  • Locate the topic in the relevant context(s);
  • Make appropriate comparisons, if relevant; and
  • Identify, discuss and analyse relevant core legal concepts.

Ethics Approval

The Faculty is supportive of human research, which includes the surveying or interviewing of individuals, members of various groups, or the wider community. However, those who wish to engage in such research require the prior approval of the Faculty’s Research Committee, which for this purpose, functions as the Faculty’s Human Research Ethics Committee. Please contact the Student Administrator for application forms or you may access the appropriate forms from the Law Faculty website: Those who wish to conduct research involving the Māori community must consult with the Te Piringa Committee and adopt such steps as are recommended by it to obtain approval for such research. In cases of doubt or difficulty, the Faculty’s Human Research Committee may refer the matter to the University Human Research Ethics Committee.

All applications for ethics approval should generally be reviewed and responses returned within two weeks.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Thesis
  • Other: Hand-in at School of Graduate Research
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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McLay, Murray & Orpin, New Zealand Law Style Guide (2nd edition, Thomson Reuters, 2011).
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Recommended Readings

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Mary-Rose Russell (ed), Legal Research in New Zealand (LexisNexis 2016).

Richard Scragg (ed), Legal Writing: A Complete Guide for a Career in Law (LexisNexis 2015).
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Other Resources

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As directed by the supervisor.
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Online Support

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Online support for this paper is provided via the Law Honours Forum or the Law Graduate Students Forum (as relevant) in Moodle.

If you require assistance with Moodle, or encounter any problems, please contact the Help Desk. You can send a message to Help Desk by using the instant message service in your paper’s Moodle site (from the participants list within the People block).

Alternatively, you can email them directly at or call 838 4008.
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Students should expect to spend around 2400 hours in total on this paper over a period of 2 years.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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LEGAL995-18C Research Portfolio. In order to proceed to Part II of the SJD degree candidates must gain a minimum grade of Pass, confirmed by an external examiner in the Research Portfolio.
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Restricted papers: LAWS994

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