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How to write a paper for a master course

This guide has been drafted to assist master students in writing a proper paper.
1) Aim of a paper
The aim of a paper is to show that you are able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and insight about a specific legal topic or problem;
- Argue clearly & coherently what leading authors have been writing about the topic;
- position yourself in and contribute to the debate (i.e. produce a vision of your own);
- Provide a proper argumentation, based on high-quality sources.
2) Structure of a paper
When reading the paper, the reader should be taken by the hand in a logical, consistent
argumentation, in order to convince him/her of the final conclusions that you draw. Remember
that particularly in law there is no single right answer: it is all about sound argumentation, based
on proper sources.
A paper should include:
A title should reflect the content of the paper.
The introduction introduces the subject of the paper (what) and reflects the relevance of the topic
(why). It further clarifies the main research question the paper intends to answer and gives insight into
the structure of the paper as well (how).
Substantive body (divided in sections)
The body are the main components (divided in sections) that taken together answer the research
The conclusion summarizes the main points of the paper and answers the research question posed in
the introduction. In addition, the conclusion may contain some general observations on the topic or
some suggestions for further research.
The bibliography is a list of all books, articles and other sources that are used to write the paper.
You are free to choose a citation style, as long as it is done consistently. A good, free and online

3) Referencing/Sources
Always give full credit to the ideas and work of other authors. In case you fail to do so, you might be
suspected of plagiarism which, if proven guilty, can be met with fierce sanctions by the Examination
Board, up to being exempted from participating in exams for a whole academic year (see below under
To avoid plagiarism, make use of footnotes if you summarize the idea of another author in your own
words (paraphrasing) or if you incorporate the exact idea of the author in your text (quotation).
If you use ideas of another author literally (quotation) than put the idea in quotation marks. If the
quote is less than two lines, you can incorporate the citation in the text:
The English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example, pleaded in 1943 for the creation of a number of
regional councils rather than a world organization. In his view only those affected by a dispute could be
expected to apply themselves with sufficient vigour to secure a settlement.

If the quote is longer than 2 sentences, the quotation should be indented (thus taken separately from
the text):
In the publication of An Agenda for Peace, pursuant to the Security Council Summit meeting in
January 1999, this realization was for the first time openly expressed by Security -General BoutrosGhali:
What is clear (...) is that regional arrangements or agencies in many cases possess a potential that
should be utilized in serving () preventive diplomacy, peace-keeping, peacemaking and post-conflict
peace-building. Under the Charter, the Security Council has and will continue to have primary
responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, but regional actio n as a matter of
decentralization, delegation and cooperation with United Nations efforts could not only lighten the burden
of the Council but also contribute to a deeper sense of participation, consensus and democratization in
international affairs.

Use quotations to strengthen or illustrate your argument, not to prove that you read literature.
Use of Sources
Apart from the mandatory reading materials you need to be able to find, study and critically
assess additional sources and apply them in your paper.
In your analysis you should first and foremost discuss primary sources of law (constitutions,
treaties, court decisions or any other expressions of the law). These primary sources are
For a better understanding of the law, legal commentaries on the law (secondary sources)
should be used. Secondary sources of law are those materials that discuss, clarify, interpret and

FO Wilcox,Regionalism and the United Nations (1953) 3 International Organisation 789, 790
Churchill, cited in: AK Henrikson, Chapter 5: the Growth of Regional Organisations and the Role of the United Nations, in: L.
Fawcett & A. Hurell (eds.) Regionalism in World Politics: Regional Organisation and International Order, (OUP: Oxford 1995) 122
UN Secretary-General, An Agenda for Peace. Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping (17 June 1992) UN doc
A/47/277-S/24111, para. 64.

analyse what the law is or what it should be. Examples include law re views, legal referencing
books, books and articles on the law.
The internet is very valuable to get a lot of information quickly but that is simultaneously the
pitfall of the internet: anyone can publish his/her ideas on the internet so you need to think
critically whether the sources that you find are trustworthy.
If you are writing an article on international law you can find much valuable information on
general websites. Yet, these sites do not give you sufficient insight in the functioning of
international law and the problems it is faced with. For that you need to make use of academic
analyses by scholars, NGO reports, policy reports, et cetera (secondary sources, see above).
Try to use sources that are (most) objective. Always be aware what potentially can be the hidden
agenda of an articles author to establish the objectivity of his/her writing. To get yourself
acquainted with a debate, blogs can be very useful but remember that these are most often
poorly referenced opinion pieces, and therefore are normally not considered to be objective
sources to be used in your final paper.
If you find it difficult to determine which sources to use, make use of the prescribed literature
and look into the footnotes/bibliography of those authors to see which sources they have been
using, find these sources and apply the same method. If you do this consistently, you build up a
coherent and sound bibliography.
4. Plagiarism/fraud
Plagiarism is a serious offence and will be met with sanctions if proven by the Exam ination
board of Tilburg Law School (see below under Rules and Regulations of the TLS Examination
All papers are checked for plagiarism via the urkund system. Without submission to the Urkund
system, your paper will not be graded. Therefore, papers need to be send to both the secretary
( and urkund (
Further, your written assignments need to be accompanied with an intention of own work, which
If you wish to read more about plagiarism, you can visit the plagiarism website of Tilburg
When you are having doubts whether your way of referencing meets the academic standards,
you can always contact one of the teachers of your course to get some further feedback.
Rules and Regulation of the Examination Board of Tilburg Law School 4
Article 7.7 - Rules for the examinee
7. It is prohibited to commit plagiarism in written papers, Master's theses, internship or work
placement reports or other kinds of written assignments. The following instances, among other
things, constitute plagiarism.

Passages from the work of another are copied almost verbatim without acknowledgement of
the source and/or
passages from the work of another are paraphrased without an indication that the opinion or
idea of another is concerned and without acknowledgement of the source and/or
the elaborated ideas or discoveries of another are presented as the students own ideas or
It is prohibited to commit fraud in conducting research.
The following instances, among other things, constitute fraud.
The data used in the study were distorted, made up, or represented in an irresponsibly
selective way;
points of view, interpretations, and conclusions of others were intentionally twisted.
With a view to checking for plagiarism and/or fraud, the examiner can oblige the examinee to
also submit a written paper, Master's thesis, internship or work placement report or other kind
of written assignment electronically.

Article 8 - Sanctions
1. An examinee who does not comply with the provisions set out in Article 7, first paragraph, will
be informed that the interim examination will not be assessed until, on behalf of the Examining
Board, the examinee has been duly identified. An examinee who cannot show a notification
and whose name is not on the list made by the Student Administration stating the names of
those who registered for the interim examination will be excluded from participation in the
relevant interim examination.
2. If the examinee does not comply with the provisions set out in Article 7, second, third, fourth,
fifth, or sixth paragraphs, the invigilator will inform him that he will make a report on the
observed events. The report, that is preferably made at the end of the interim examination, will
be sent to the Examining Board.
3. The examinee will be informed that no assessment of the interim examination will take place
until the Examining Board has decided what consequences it attaches to the observed events.
4. If suspicion arises in a situation other than during an interim examination that Article 7, fifth
paragraph, has been breached, the matter will also be submitted to the Examining Board
pursuant to the provisions of this article.
5. Before the Examining Board makes a decision, it allows the examinee and, if necessary, the
invigilator to be heard.
6. If the examinee has acted in breach of Article 7, second or third paragraphs, the Examining
Board can decide that no assessment will take place.
7. If the examinee has acted in breach of Article 7, fourth or sixth paragraphs, and the Examining
Board is of the opinion that the instructions given were reasonable, it can decide that no
assessment will take place.
8. If the examinee has acted in breach of Article 7, fifth and/or seventh paragraphs, the
Examining Board can decide that no assessment will take place. It can moreover decide to
deprive the student of the right to participate in one or more specified examinations or interim
examinations for a maximum period of one year.
9. The Examining Board informs the examinee and the examiner of its decision in writing and
stating reasons, also if none of the measures as referred to in the sixth, seventh, or eighth
paragraphs is taken. The examinee is also informed that he can appeal against the Examining
Board's decision to the University's Examination Appeals Board within 30 days after the
decision is made.