Writing a law dissertation introduction

The hardest part of writing introductions is explaining what you are going to do in a way in which it sets your work out as an important piece of legal research, and so engage your reader without giving the whole plot away.

The easiest way to go about this is to start with a general discussion outlining in simple but concise terms your research problem, the general question and any sub-questions you intend to address. From here, move on to discuss the specifics such as how you hope to meet these objectives and what you might find, but without anticipating your conclusions.

When your law dissertation is assessed, one measure of success is whether you have met your objectives. Do not be surprised therefore if your objectives change and evolve. It is also essential that you synchronise your introduction with your conclusion by indicating provisionally what you anticipate your conclusions will be. For this reason, it is likely that you will not be able to finalise your introduction until you have at the very least drafted your conclusion. It does help to produce a provisional draft of your introduction at an early juncture, particularly if you have not prepared a comprehensive proposal as this will guide you in the right direction and boost your confidence that you have made a good start.

Writing the final draft of your introduction at the end will also allow you a clearer indication of what are the actual contributions and significance of your law dissertation. Once you have outlined your research problem, the main issues and how you intend to go about undertaking your research, you will need to provide a outline of what you believe the key reasons are for undertaking the research and why you believe it is significant. You do not need to go in to any depth as you can develop this further in the body of the dissertation itself. You should aim however to engage the interest of the reader by explaining the work that has already been done in your chosen area and how your work fits in with this. Finally, you need to explain to your reader how you have organised your dissertation, mapping out the structure and sequence of the chapters so the reader will be aware at every stage what you are doing and why.

You should aim for your introduction to take up between 7 and 10% of your overall word count. The style should be scholarly, concise and direct with a number of references to key general texts that address your basic theories. If appropriate you can begin with a pithy quotation but avoid being too jokey or glib.

If you require any guidance with drafting your law dissertation introduction, we at Law Teacher are here to help.