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APUS Legal Studies Program Writing Guide

Master of Arts in Legal Studies Program Capstone Creative Research Project

The culminating class in the Master of Arts in Legal Studies Program is a sixteen-week capstone course during which the candidate will complete a creative research project on some aspect of the law, and write a paper in law review style capturing that research, in compliance with the 2018 End of Program Assessment Manual for Graduate Studies. The student must use both primary and secondary legal sources, to include scholarly, peer-reviewed materials. Students will use Bluebook academic citation format (footnotes). 

A Legal Studies Program professor will guide students through this process. At the end of the course, the student will turn in a forty- to fifty-page paper to be archived in the APUS Library. The paper will comply with all of the specific formatting and metadata guidance in the 2018 End of Program Assessment Manual for Graduate Studies (specifically, Chapter III: Master's Capstone: Creative Project) and will contain the following substantive elements:

  • Abstract: Includes the following components: purpose of the research, methodology, findings, and conclusion. The body of the abstract is limited to 150-200 words.
  • Introduction: This section identifies the specific legal topic and sets the general context for it, and lays out the thesis/problem statement. It must grab the reader’s attention, and clearly explain the purpose, the legal issues to be addressed, and why those issues are of interest. Finally, it must provide the reader with a clear roadmap of the paper.
  • Background:  This section explains the origin of the problem/area of the law the student has chosen to research and write about. As a minimum, it must clearly identify the legal issue(s), explain the historical underpinnings, explain the impact(s) on society, and clarify why it matters. 
  • Body: This section includes a detailed discussion of the current state of the law, new developments in the law, and their impacts. It also includes an argument, supported by the research, based on application of the law to facts, regarding how the law is likely to develop in the future, and/or how the courts in question ought to rule on the issue(s).   
  • Conclusion: This section must flow logically from the body of the paper and must be fully supported by the research  This section includes a succinct wrap-up of the argument.

All citations will be in Bluebook formatted footnotes. There will be no reference page.

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