Instructor(s): Abraham Drassinower

The Directed Research Committee MUST approve your Proposal and requested credits, at which time it may be necessary to adjust your credits.

Note: Exchange Students cannot do Directed Research. Adjunct Faculty may not supervise Directed Research Projects.

To encourage original doctrinal, inter-disciplinary, or empirical research, second and third year students may gain credits by participating in the Directed Research Program.

  • For 2 credits, 5000-7,500 words (20-30 pages), at least two meetings per term, and a penultimate draft

  • For 3 credits, 7,500-10,000 words (30-40 pages), at least three meetings per term, and a penultimate draft
  • For 4 credits, a paper of 50-60 pages, 12,500-15,000 words (50-60 pages), at least 4 meetings per term, and a penultimate draft.

No student may receive more than eight credits over two years or do more than one project per term. Proposals must include a detailed statement of the project, and an explanation of the amount of credit requested.

The selected topic must make conceptual sense, have sufficient academic content and be pursued by feasible research methods. The project should preferably aim at publishable conclusions, in whole or part by adaptation, for instance in a journal article, in submissions to a ministry, law reform agency or other governmental or professional committee, or for presentation by special interest groups, such as consumer's groups.

Types of Directed Research:
Team projects and interdisciplinary research are permitted and encouraged.

Empirically-oriented research projects are also encouraged. The final paper should reflect not merely the results of data gathering, but an analysis of the data and, where appropriate, of the methods used. Students are welcome to build upon data gathering undertaken in other contexts, such as summer jobs. However, students may not receive academic credit for work for which they are also receiving compensation. Students with experience in a clinical setting may prepare a research paper relevant to their work or experiences. Students may develop themes relevant, for instance, to welfare law, immigration law, workers' compensation, landlord/tenant and rent review, family and child law, and minor criminal and delinquency matters, addressing substantive, procedural or administrative aspects. Papers may take the form of a traditional academic paper, memoranda on cases handled by students, briefs for presentation to private or governmental agencies, or other forms acceptable to faculty supervisors and the Directed Research Committee.

Research with Human Subjects:
The University of Toronto requires that all graduate student and faculty research involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by a Research Ethics Board (REB) before work can begin. Although research methodologies differ, the fundamental ethical issues and principles in research involving human subjects are common across all disciplines. The standards that must be met are set out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS), which can be reviewed at

This "living" document outlines the guidelines for research involving human subjects in Canada and is the creation of the three major Canada research councils (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC).

Proposal Requirements:
Interested students are encouraged to approach members of the teaching faculty with a coincidental interest to discuss their project, to seek supervision, and to seek advice in drafting their proposal. Students should produce, for their proposed supervisors and the Directed Research Committee, a reasonably detailed outline of their proposed research project including:

  • an outline of the idea to be pursued,

  • the research methods to be employed,
  • the research sources to be tapped,
  • any expected problems, and
  • a preliminary bibliography.

This information is considered in determining credit allocation for the project and should be presented so as to justify the credit proposed. Students should make whatever preliminary arrangements are needed to secure relevant data far enough in advance that they can start work on the project early in the term. For example, if the research requires the co-operation of an outside party to gain access to files for an empirical or historical study, this co-operation should be secured well in advance of the deadline for submission of proposals.

Submission Process:

  • Proposals must be approved by supervisors before being submitted to the Committee though the Records Office. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure adequate time to discuss a proposal with their supervisor and obtain approval before the deadline for submission of the proposal to the Committee. Students planning to start their project in September should submit a proposal to their intended supervisor a minimum of one week before the first day of term or earlier if possible. Students planning to start in January should approach their intended supervisor before the end of the first term and agree on a date for submission of a proposal so as to ensure supervision approval before the second term deadline for submission to the Committee.

  • The proposal, together with the Directed Research Form available on the web under the Academic Handbook, must be submitted to the Records Office by the deadlines shown on the Sessional Dates. The student must submit one copy of the form (signed by the supervisor) along with the proposal either as a hardcopy to the Records Office or in an electronic format to The Committee may suggest that the student amplify or amend the proposal prior to making a final decision.
  • The submission deadlines are shown on the Sessional Dates found on the web at These dates are designed to ensure that Directed Research approval can be determined before the deadline for adding and dropping courses so that students' programs can be finalized in a timely fashion. Therefore, extensions will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. The Committee will undertake to have read and approved (or raised questions about) the proposals by the add/drop date in each term.
  • Students who wish to keep open the option of dropping Directed Research in favour of taking another course should submit their proposal well before the deadline date for submitting Directed Research proposals.

Both the supervisor and Committee will ensure that the proposed topic has sufficient academic content, and that the research methods are feasible. In particular they will satisfy themselves that the project makes conceptual sense, that it can be done in the time allotted, and that the research material is available without any obstacles to its use, such as confidentiality. The general test to be used in accepting or rejecting a project is whether the topic is capable of supporting a paper suitable for publication (either in whole or part or in adapted form) and whether it will make a new contribution to an area. The test of potential publication is not to be a standard for marking. "Publication" will not be interpreted narrowly. For example, the production of several consumer protection pamphlets suitable to be issued to members of the public, or the submission of a written brief to a governmental or law reform agency might be eminently suitable. The committee will take account of the student's non-academic and non-legal academic background such as summer jobs or previous university programs which give special expertise.

The principles which will guide the Committee in making the credit allocation are these:

  • Three credits is the basic allocation. However, where a student can demonstrate that the magnitude or complexity of the project and the demand on time, by contrast with other courses, require additional credit, the Committee may allot additional credit up to a maximum of eight. Where the student is expanding on previous work, it may be appropriate to assign as few as one or two credits.

  • If the research involves use of human subjects, ethics review may be required. Please review the information included under Research with Human Subjects shown above.
  • In particular circumstances where the research work would more sensibly be spread over two terms, the Committee may allow credit to be allocated over two terms.
  • Students may take the program in either the fall or spring term of their second and third years depending on the availability of the supervisor. Except with the permission of the Assistant Dean, JD Program, a student may enroll in only a single Directed Research Program in an academic year.


  • Students will meet and/or correspond with their supervisors regularly, to discuss the progress of the research.

  • Faculty from other departments in the University will be encouraged to undertake joint supervision of law students in the Program. A teaching member of this faculty would serve as a joint supervisor and evaluator both to maintain a focus for the research within the law faculty and to ensure a direct link with the Committee.
  • The work is expected to be of high quality and will be judged by the supervisors according to the thoroughness of the research displayed, the difficulty of the problems treated, the degree of originality, the coherence of structure and argument and the suitability of papers to the goals they set.

Jackman Humanities Institute Undergraduate Fellowships:

  • Students in first or second year who might be interested in pursuing graduate studies in law and a humanities subject (e.g. history, philosophy, literature) should explore the possibility of applying for one of six available Jackman Humanities Institute Undergraduate Fellowships.

  • Each Fellow is awarded $1,000 to support his or her research, a locking carrel at the Jackman Humanities Institute, and there are limited funds available for travel.
  • The fellowship project must be connected to the annual theme of the institute and Fellows are selected from a competitive pool of applicants from across the University by the Institute’s incoming Faculty Research Fellows.
  • The themes for 2017-2020 are: Indelible Violence: Shame, Reconciliation and the Work of Apology (2017/18); Reading Faces-Reading Minds (2018-19); Strange Weather (2019-20). For detailed descriptions of the themes see
  • If selected, the student would work on a one-term project under the supervision of the Institute’s Faculty Fellow and a teaching member of this faculty for an appropriate credit weight as determined by the Directed Research Committee.
  • Each Fellow is also expected to present their work to the circle of Fellows at an end-of-the-year Fellows’ Luncheon.
  • The Institute’s call for applications generally appears in the spring and the six Fellows are chosen in early summer. Hence, a student wishing to undertake the fellowship in conjunction with obtaining credit under the Directed Research program in their third year would need to start planning their application towards the end of the second term of second year or if they wish to do the project in second year, towards the end of second term of first year.
  • An application for a JHI Undergraduate Fellowships would be “without prejudice” in the sense that even if unsuccessful, the project, with the consent of the Faculty of Law supervisor, could be submitted to the Directed Research Committee and would be evaluated in the usual way.

Deadline for Submission of Completed Research:
Students are required to submit their completed work by the date determined by their faculty supervisors, but by no later than the final deadline for submitting papers as determined by the administration. When all credits are allocated to one term, the work must be completed by the deadline date for written work for that term.

Change of Credit/Change of Term:
Students wishing to change the number of credits for their project or the allocation as between terms must submit a revised proposal justifying the change along with a Change of Credit or Change of Term form, available in the Records Office. Applications for change of credit must be made before the date on which a first draft is due to be submitted to the supervisor as indicated on the original proposal.

Credit note
1 - 4 credits/term

Credit note
2 - 4 credits

At a Glance

First Term
Perspective course


50 JD