During this season, I often find myself approached by numerous third-year law students seeking advice and guidance on selecting a dissertation topic.
Although I desire more time for dissertation supervision, I make every effort to guarantee, the ones under my guidance, a valuable learning experience and academic enrichment. I have my own set of terms and conditions, and I am quite strict when it comes to deadlines and required readings – that’s just my approach.
Returning to the topic of choosing a dissertation title, I always provide these recommendations. First and foremost, select a subject that genuinely interests you. Personally, I couldn’t imagine delving into a lengthy dissertation unless it pertains to my areas of passion: planning law, property law, or public law. These fields drive my enthusiasm, and I prefer not to deviate from them.
Secondly, opt for a topic that is current and hasn’t been extensively explored by other students. A timely subject often indicates that there is room for further exploration, which is excellent news because a remarkable dissertation introduces fresh and innovative insights, contributing to the legal domain’s body of knowledge.
And where can you discover these timely subjects? There are several avenues to explore. Allow me to highlight a potential source: court judgments. In these judgments, defendants present their arguments, and the court often provides innovative and non-traditional perspectives.
For instance, consider the recent Birdlife judgment, which challenges the conventional approach to juridical interests concerning environmental non government organizations in the context of the principle of European Union Law.
Within this judgment, numerous arguments and counterarguments were presented by the parties, ultimately leading the court to a specific decision. In this context, a dissertation could focus on identifying the key aspects addressed and analyse the trajectory the court’s reasoning is taking, determining whether it leads to legally sustainable paths or a dead end.
For instance, this judgment raises numerous thought-provoking questions, such as the relationship between the direct effect in EU law, seemingly nullifying local subsidiary legislation instantly, while in other areas like statutory legislation declared against human rights, we continue to reject the ‘erga omnes’ rule. Another intriguing aspect of this judgment is whether one can still challenge a legal notice that is no longer in effect at the time of the judgment – the court delves into this issue as well. These are just two facets to consider.
This judgment serves as a prime example of where a student with a passion for public law can commence their research. Certainly, there are many other court judgments produced daily, each potentially offering valuable insights and avenues for exploration