All SJD students must attend the graduate seminar, Alternative Approaches to Legal Scholarship (3 credits), in their first term.   Attendance is mandatory. Further coursework is optional. Graduate students choose the remainder of their courses, if any, from those available in the JD program. Graduate students usually choose upper-year courses, seminars, and specialized and intensive courses, which often require the preparation of a research paper.

The central requirement of the program is the completion and successful defense of a doctoral thesis under supervision. You will be invited to meet with the Associate Dean in late August or early September to discuss potential supervisors. Normally an SJD thesis is between 300 and 400 pages (approximately 90,000 to 120,000 words). In every case, however, the particular requirements of the thesis are established in conjunction with the thesis supervisor, and may vary with the subject matter of the thesis.

Area Requirement: Before being allowed to proceed with formal research on a thesis topic, a candidate must demonstrate competence in a broader area within which the topic falls. An Individual Area Committee (established by the student and approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies) assists in framing that area and compiling an appropriate plan for carrying out the research. The research undertaken by the candidate either culminates in a written exam, based on the reading list, or consists of a research project which is either a draft of a chapter of the thesis, or an overview of the general argument. Both paths lead to an area exam based on written work and a reading list. A candidate must satisfy the area requirement by the end of the first year of registration.  A candidate will not be allowed to continue in the doctoral programme, where, in the opinion of the Area Committee, the candidate does not demonstrate the capacity for independent legal research and writing at an advanced level.

SJD Presentation: Each SJD student presents their own research in their second year in order to focus their dissertation. In this SJD Workshop Series, students present an abstract of their work in progress or a draft chapter  to an audience of their peers and interested faculty, in order to get positive feedback and suggestions from a group larger than their committee.

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