Those of you who are doing or have done this module will understand me when i say that in the beginning there is total confusion, followed shortly thereafter by panic …. Lol!  I have been asked many times and have sent out numerous emails with pictures to show what it should look like and how it should be done. Obviously i did not do the work for them, but just gave them examples of what your finished dissertation should look like. for example what your cover page should look like, your index. bibliography ect…. please do not ask me to help you with your dissertation(research,work,typing), i cannot do that. i merely point out the structure and rules and how they dictate your essay should look.  Simply put, this is an attempt to show you a visual representation of how your essay should look. There are reason students get confused by the instructions…

Part of this is the clear as mud instructions.  They do not indicate exactly what is required, for example it says you have 10 pages… thats it.  10 pages for what exactly? for just your actual mini dissertation? does this include the cover page? bibliography?  i will attempt in this post clarify some of the rules and show examples of how it should look, this is not the only way it can be done.  Its just to help those who are totally lost and are not getting the help they need.

Read your tuts and have your instructions booklet ready. You will notice that the rules say 10 pages, those 10 pages refer to your essay only, it does not include your cover page and contents page or bibliography, it includes only those pages starting from your introduction up to and including your conclusion.  So your cover page, contents page and bibliography are NOT included in those 10 pages. Also (and i have seen this) do not try shrink the font size on your word processor in order to get more content in, you will get severely penalised for this.  Please remember that all those rules pertaining to font size (in your body and footnotes) are to be done exactly as per instructions, if you do not follow those instructions verbatim you will be penalised.  Further, do not exceed the word limit.

the cover page:


You will notice that certain portions are highlighted and in uppercase, that is not random.  The rules prescribe the form which the cover page must take.  This is what it should look like. Of course you are free to do it anyway you please. You will see at the bottom of the page is states the dept for which the research is done… it may differ from topic to topic, for example yours may be for the dept of Jurisprudence or public law as the case may be.

the contents page:


Once again you will notice changes in font and bold text. This is as per the rules.

I am not going to delve too much into the substance of what your dissertation should or should not have, that is for you to decide.  But you must be careful to take note of the rules pertaining to citation and mode of citation.  You must quote and reference you sources in order, of course any decent word processor should do this automatically.  Further, your citations should be in the correct format, of the right font size and done in accordance with the rules. one such rule is to make sure that you put a full stop at the end of each citation!!  It should look something like this: do not copy this work!!


Obviously you must set your work out as per your contents page, and have authority (citations) for your argument. If you do not provide relevant authority for your submissions you will be asked about it, and penalised.  So avoid making unfounded statements or statements that lead to conjecture.  Pie in the sky statements will be penalised!!  Stick to the facts.

So basically you begin with your introduction then go into you main body and then end with your conclusion. but PLEASE do not regurgitate all the info you have written in your conclusion!!  Instead use your conclusion to come to a new way of looking at the same problem or question, or state what can be gained out of the research you have done, if you show your supervisor that you have contributed in some small way or have at least discovered something, no matter how trivial then you may get an extra few marks, but if you cant, you have wasted your time… and will be penalised. lol

the bibliography:


This is what it should look like.  It must be in alphabetical order(my final draft was in order), must follow the rules relating to mode of citation and the rules relating to font ect…. Do not cite work in your bibliography that is not in your dissertation. you will get marks deducted.


you will notice throughout that attention is paid to even the finest detail, that includes capital letters for case names, full stops at the end of your sentences and citations.  Your research must also be sound, you cannot cite something you have not read yourself.  You also cannot use other peoples work as your own, if you do this you will fail!(i know people who have received a zero for their work) Do not think for one second that your supervisor does not know where you may have got that work from, not only do they use specialised computer software and printing devices (which i have used and seen myself) but often they have read the work you may be trying to “steal” so if you think you can get away with it…. you cant!  FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS VERBATIM! if the instructions says use 10 font for all citations then do that. If it says uppercase bold for all main headings then do that…ect ect…. You can set your computer to do that for you, but you will still have to do the research and use your own thought process, you own understanding.  I was lucky, my supervisor was helpful, others are not so lucky, so talk or get in touch with other students, BUT DO NOT SHARE YOUR WORK WITH ANYONE!  Obviously your grammar and spelling need to be perfect…. so use your word processor in the UK setting, the USA setting has spelling errors…. like color instead of colour or specialized instead of specialised.  Every one of those simple spelling mistakes or grammar errors will cost you marks.

any questions? reply below

PLEASE NOTE: this is just a help guide, it is not instructive or to be reproduced.  It is also not to be taken as legal advice. please do not copy my work.  i cannot be held responsible for your work. thank you. in no way is this supposed to take the place of the unisa tutorials and rules. please follow the rules as per unisa, this is merely a visual guide of what it should look like, you dont have to do it this way.  gotta add the disclaimer.

good luck




  1. Great stuff thelawguysa…3 years back I did it exactly the same way you outlayed it and I came out as one the best in my LLB research module. This is absolutely correct and this is the way to go. All the best to those who are working on this module. Many thanks for your work and for sharing thelawgysa. Keep it up!!!


    1. thanks bonani 🙂


  2. Thanks lawguysa, your explanation gave me a better understanding and peace of mind;)


  3. Thanks for the useful Information.


  4. Great video and explanation. Wish they would give such clear instruction when they start dishing out assignments. Thank you for the blog, any help that is offered is appreciated.


    1. Glad it helped. Cheers


  5. Lebogang · · Reply

    Thank you, I was lost and have to submit on the 1st of April. Now it’s all clear.


  6. Thanks


  7. Caroline · · Reply

    Could someone please tell me whether there is a dissertation defense at the end? (oral presentation of your work in front of a jury/teacher/peers?)


  8. Caroline · · Reply

    Could someone please inform me whether there is a dissertation defense taking place at the end of it all?


cmon reply, it is more fun if you contribute :D

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