Undergraduate Research Scholarship project 2020
Birmingham Law School
This research project will investigate how different concepts of the purpose and value of a law degree in England & Wales (LLB) are represented to perspective university law school students.
The question ‘what is a law degree for?’ is currently up for debate in the context of recommended changes by the professional bodies to the academic stage of study. The project is designed to explore the discourse of law school websites (words and images used to ‘market’’ law degrees) in that context.
The overall aim is to explore to what extent law school websites create a narrative & discourse around ‘employability’ (i.e. a law degree is all about qualifying into the profession) and, if so, how this comes about. Through this project, it is also anticipated that messages around diversity and inclusivity within law schools (and the extent to which the same are reflected on marketing materials) can also be explored.
What you will do
- Conduct a basic literature review on multimodal discourse analysis research projects of law school websites outside E&W (i.e. are there any empirical projects out there? (week 1);
- Create a database that compiles all of the responses to Freedom of information (FOI) requests made by the lead researcher in Feb 2020 and chase any outstanding responses (weeks 2 and 3);
- Create a separate database of images & text from law school websites in E&W (weeks 2 and 3); and
- Begin CDA of the databases findings (weeks 4 and 5)
The Scholarship holder will require:
- Strong research skills and preferably some experience of multi-modal critical discourse analysis (CDA)
- Ability to deal with voluminous and complex materials in a time efficient manner
- Ability to work independently
- Organisational skills and attention to detail
- Excellent note taking skills
- Basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel and willingness to learn how to create a database table;
- Basic knowledge of, and an interest in, legal education would be an advantage.
How will the project benefit you?
- The project will give the student the opportunity to develop their independent research skills. It will give them space to conduct in-depth research into a topic and guidance on how to draft a literature review that they otherwise are unlikely to have prior to working on their own dissertation in final year.
- Their research skills (searching databases; writing and summarising key findings; creation of databases etc.) will be enhanced. They will be introduced to making Freedom of Information requests & dealing with responses to the same.
- They will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding in an emerging area of legal education research.
- Additionally, they will have the opportunity to work with a leading researcher in that developing field and will have their contribution acknowledged in the resulting publication(s).