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«Course Description This course consists of a series of meetings in which students discuss and will be provided with advice on how to develop their ...»

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Graduate Program in Socio-Legal Studies


Winter 2015 (Monday 11:30-2:30 in Ross S125)

Professor: Amanda Glasbeek, Ross S733

Phone: x 33749

Email: aglasbee@yorku.ca

Office Hours: Thursdays 10:00 – 11:15 or by appointment.

Course Description

This course consists of a series of meetings in which students discuss and will be provided with

advice on how to develop their Major Research Paper (MRP) proposal, research their topic, and

write their MRP. This seminar is an important mechanism for ensuring students make meaningful progress in their research and have clear expectations for the MRP.

The key objective of the course is to facilitate the completion of the MRP through discussion and feedback with peers and faculty advisors. This is achieved in several ways. In the first half of the course, we will discuss the various component parts of both the MRP and the MRP proposal, including how to conduct literature reviews, link theory to method, engage in critical, interdisciplinary scholarship, develop a feasible program of work, and find, and work with, supervisory committees. These discussions will be followed by weekly writing assignments through which students refine their skills in these core component areas of the MRP proposal.

The second half of the course will be devoted to work-shopping the proposal itself. This will be done through the submission of written drafts as well as an oral presentation of the proposal, during which students can receive peer feedback on their progress.

It is hoped that, through presenting their work to their peers and the giving and receiving of feedback, students will be able to participate more meaningfully in building and maintaining an intellectual community made available by the graduate program. Overall, the course is designed to enable students to develop the skills necessary to complete their Major Research Paper as well as to participate in the broader community of socio-legal scholarship.

Course Requirements Attendance and active participation in all seminars Completion of all written submissions Presentation of MRP research, including submission of abstract Peer feedback on colleagues’ presentations and readings FIRST draft of MRP proposal, DUE February 23, 2015 REVISED draft of MRP proposal, DUE March 16, 2015 FINAL draft of MRP proposal, DUE April 3, 2015.

Presenting your MRP Research (1) Written Submissions In the first half of the course, students will submit short component parts of the anticipated MRP proposal (an abstract, a preliminary literature review, a methodology section). In the second half of the course, students will submit draft proposals of their MRP proposal in 1 GS/SLST 6100 3.0 W 2105 progress. The first of these is due February 23. This paper will be returned, with comments, by March 2. The second draft proposal is due March 16. This version should incorporate any feedback received (including from student peers during the oral presentation, if relevant), and attach a 1-2 page statement that summarizes the response to this feedback.

(2) Oral Presentation.

Each of you is required to present your research in the form of an oral proposal (each presentation will be approximately 1 hour in length, including discussion time). You are required to locate your research question, identify its significance, and discuss the relevance of your theory and/or method.

To help your peers engage with your research, you will also select an article that is related to your major research paper. The article might be central to your research or part of your exploration of what you intend to do. For the purposes of guiding the seminar, you are asked to also formulate a question (or set of questions) that is specific enough to address the substance of the article but general enough to orient discussion. You should also indicate how the article in question relates to your research. Please choose articles that can be sent digitally and send them to me in time for the class to have at least a week to read the article in preparation for your presentation.

On the day of the presentation, you will also submit a (revised) written


of your MRP.

I will leave it to you to invite the Supervisor of the MRP to attend your presentation if you choose. Please also arrange to meet with me before your presentation for any assistance I can offer.

The final version of your MRP Proposal, including approval of your Supervisor and Reader, is due to the SLST office on April 3, 2015.

Grading and Evaluation Because the course is focused on work-in-progress, submissions and presentations will not be evaluated for content. Rather, the focus is on the process of developing, fine-tuning, and articulating your core research question, and on becoming familiar with the requirements of the MRP. Therefore, the course is graded based on your participation (including constructive feedback with your peers), your active engagement with these processes, and the successful and timely completion of the above assignments, including the submission of the final proposal.

–  –  –

January 5: Introduction to course Discussion: goals for, and organization of, seminar.

January 12: Analyzing an MRP


An MRP in Socio-Legal Studies.

–  –  –

January 19: Conducting Literature Reviews


Guhtrie, G. “Research Proposal and Literature Review,” in Basic Research Methods: An Entry to Social Science Research (pp. 25-37). Sage, 1996 Hart, C. “The literature review in research,” in Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination (pp 1-26). Sage, 1998.


Review the MRP you read: How was the literature review conducted? More generally: What is the place and role of the literature review? Why does it matter? How does one move from the literature search to the literature review? How is the literature review different to an annotated bibliography? How much is enough? What difficulties do you anticipate in conducting a literature review?

Guest:Maura Matesic, Social Science Librarian (11:30-12:30).


An abstract for your MRP. Length: 250-400 words. The abstract should clearly and succinctly state your research question, and your plan for addressing this question. It should also clearly state the contribution your research makes to the existing literature: what is original about your question, or your method or your theory or your research (e.g. new primary materials, empirical data, interviews, etc.)? Include 5-8 keywords that define your research.

January 26: Conducting Socio-Legal Research: Critical, Interdisciplinary, Sustained


Harry Arthurs and Annie Bunting, “Socio-Legal Scholarship in Canada: A Review of the Field,” Journal of Law and Society 41, 4 (2014), 487-499.

Austin Sarat. “Vitality Amidst Fragmentation: On the Emergence of Postrealist Law and Society Scholarship,” in Sarat, A. (ed). Blackwell Companion to Law and Society (pp. 1-11).

Blackwell Publishers, 2004.

–  –  –


What does it mean to do critical sociolegal research? What is the link between critical sociolegal scholarship and interdisciplinarity? What is the difference between disciplinary, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches? How does this affect theory and method?

How can one have a “sustained” exploration while drawing on multiple literatures, theories and/or methods? What difficulties arise in conducting interdisciplinary research?

Due: A preliminary literature review. Length: 3-5 pages. This literature review should provide an overview of the literatures that shape your research.

REMINDER: SLST Speakers Series with Leah Vosko at 2:30, Ross S701 February 2: Methodology and Nuts and Bolts


John W. Creswell. “Chapter One: A Framework for Design,” Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches 2e. (pp 3-26).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003.

Rita S. Brause. “Writing Your Dissertation Proposal While Designing Your Dissertation Research,” Writing Your Doctoral Dissertation (pp 97-110). Taylor and Francis, 2000. (YUL ebook) Discussion topics: How to incorporate theory and methods; How to engage with multiple, mixed, and/or interdisciplinary approaches to methods; how to put together the proposal, including how to find a Supervisor and a Second Reader; how to manage timelines & manage deadlines;

what are reasonable expectations for the MRP? What is the full process? How do you write a MRP proposal?

Due: A preliminary methodology section for your MRP proposal (length 3-5 pp). Give some consideration to how the method(s) you are using link to the theory you are exploring and/or the literature within which your project is situated – i.e. how is your methodological approach best suited to tackle your specific research question in light of the theoretical framework, the extant literature, and/or the contribution you seek to make and in the context of the potentials and limitations of the MRP (including time constraints)?

In class exercise: constructing a workable template for the proposal.

February 9: no class Individual Student Meetings with GPD to discuss MRP and progress.

REMINDER: SLST Speakers Series with Patricia McDermott at 2:30, Ross S701 February 16: Reading Week February 23: Student presentations of research/MRP proposal

–  –  –

Presenter 2:_______________________________________________

Presenter 3:_______________________________________________

REMINDER: SLST Speakers Series on Getting Published, with Benjamin Berger, Les Jacobs & Annie Bunting at 2:30, Ross S701 Due: A draft proposal. Length 10-12 pages (not including title page and bibliography). The proposal should contain (probably, but not necessarily in this order): the research question and why it matters; a review of the literature(s) and where your project fits; an overview of the methodology; an overview of the contributon to interdisciplinary sociolegal studies; a timeline for completion.

March 2: Student presentations of research/MRP proposal Presenter 1:_______________________________________________

Presenter 2:_______________________________________________

Presenter 3:_______________________________________________

N.B. March 6 is the deadline for having a Supervisor named and on file with the SLST office.

REMINDER: SLST Speakers Series with Rosemary Coombe on WED, MAR 4 at 12:30 in Osgoode 2027 March 9: Student presentations of research/MRP proposal Presenter 1:_______________________________________________

Presenter 2:_______________________________________________

Presenter 3:_______________________________________________

March 16: Student presentations of research/MRP proposal Presenter 1: ______________________________________________

Presenter 2: ______________________________________________

–  –  –

Due: A revised draft proposal. Include a 1-2 page statement that summarizes the changes you have made since the first proposal was completed and returned.

March 23: Conclusions, Feedback, Problem-Solving REMINDER: SLST Speakers Series with Anna Pratt, 2:30-4:00, Ross S701 MARCH 30: No class.

Optional meetings with GPD to discuss progress.

APRIL 3: Final Approved Version of MRP Proposal DUE in SLST office.

–  –  –


Brause, Rita S. Writing your doctoral dissertation: invisible rules for success. London, New York:

Falmer Press, 2000. (YUL ebook) Denscombe, Martyn. Proposal writing in the social sciences. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press, 2012.

Francis, J. Bruce. The Proposal Cookbook: a step by step guide to dissertation and thesis proposal writing. 3e. Naples, FL: Action Research Associates, 1979.

Gardner, David C. Dissertation proposal guidebook: how to prepare a research proposal and get it accepted. Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, 1980.

–  –  –

Locke, Lawrence F. Proposals that work: a guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals.

Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1993.

Mauch, James E. Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation: a handbook for students and faculty.

New York: M. Dekker, 2003 [electronic resource] 7 GS/SLST 6100 3.0 W 2105 M.A. - Major Research Paper Requirements (MRP) The MRP should represent a sustained exploration of a theoretical or empirical question in sociolegal studies. As a research project, the MRP is generally narrower in scope, less complex in methodology and/or less ambitious in data gathering and analysis, than a thesis. Students will be required to submit a proposal for their MRP by the end of their second term—a version of which will be presented to their fellow students in the context of the Major Research Paper Seminar. Major Research Papers should be approximately 50 double-spaced pages (i.e. 10,000 words) in length. The paper will be supervised by a member of the Graduate Faculty in SocioLegal Studies and read by another member of the faculty who has been appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Upon completion, the Major Research Paper will be evaluated by the Supervisor and the second reader. Both readers must approve the Major Research Paper for this requirement for the MA to be fulfilled.


1. Major research papers may, with the approval of the supervisor, be extensions and adaptations of term papers. One long paper cannot be accepted as both a course paper and a Major Research Paper.

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