Organization and examination rules


 International Master´s in the Sociology of Law

The degree is conferred on the basis of course credits, a Master’s thesis and the defence of the thesis. Candidates must obtain at least a Pass mark in every component in order to be awarded the degree. A candidate must normally pass all the taught courses before being allowed to proceed to writing the thesis. In exceptional cases, the Scientific Director may allow a candidate to proceed to writing the thesis if a course has been missed or failed, but the candidate must complete the missing course credit(s) the following year in order to be awarded the degree. A candidate may retake a Failed component of the programme the following year, unless they are excluded from the programme by a decision of the competent authority, however they must pay the fees for the component to be retaken. The grades for one or more courses may be withheld by the Institute, so that the candidate may not be able to graduate, if the student has not fulfilled his/her financial obligations to the Institute or to the UPV/EHU.


The taught part of the programme consists of 13 different two-week courses with a total of 40 ECTS credits. One ECTS credit is considered equivalent to 25 hours of coursework including supervisions, seminars, readings, discussions and preparation of papers and exams. Coursework units are usually taught between 09.00 and 11.00 each day, but this may vary.

Absences and late submission:

Students are expected to attend all classes, submit coursework and participate in all courses. Students are also expected to attend classes on time, and course teachers are entitled to impose a penalty for persistent late attendance. Any absence for any reason must be explained to the course teacher and the Scientific Director, preferably in advance (e.g. by email). A course teacher can penalise, including giving a Fail grade, any student who fails to attend or participate in a course. Students will be required to explain extended absences to the Scientific Director, and to provide evidence as to the reason for their absence (e.g. a medical certificate). Assessments for each coursework unit is due on the Saturday immediately following the conclusion of the course at 18:00 pm. Late submission may be penalised by the course teacher. Students who are absence from class or fail to submit assessment for good reason (e.g. illness) may be able to submit an alternative piece of assessment with the agreement of the course teacher and Scientific Director.


Students who obtain credits for some or all required courses, but whose Master’s thesis is not submitted or not approved, will be certified to have completed the coursework component of the programme with the relevant number of ECTS obtained. Students who fail one or more courses may at the end of the teaching period may ask for a certificate for those courses that they have successfully passed and those ECTS they have accumulated.

Students’ and Teachers’ Evaluation of the Programme :

At the end of their course, lecturers will be asked to give an overall assessment of the programme and of each student. Students will be asked to provide an anonymous evaluation of lecturers and an evaluation of the programme as a whole. The Master Committee of the IISL will analyse these evaluations and recommend appropriate improvements.

Misbehaviour :

The Scientific Director deals with cases of students’ misbehaviour that occur outside the classroom and serious misbehaviour in class. They can decide on an appropriate sanction. In severe cases this may require a student to move out of the Residence or expelling the student from the Masters’ programme.

Research Ethics :

Research for the Master Thesis must comply with the ISA Code of Ethics. Consideration of ethical issues must be included in the Thesis Proposal, and where relevant, should be discussed within the final version of the Masters Thesis.

Good Academic Practice and Plagiarism :

All written work submitted must comply with normal standards of good academic practice, especially as regards use and citation of sources. All sources must be properly cited, and any quotations must be clearly marked. Failure to cite sources correctly may be treated as plagiarism (passing off the work of another as one´s own). Sanctions for poor academic practice or plagiarism include deduction of marks, failing the course, or expulsion from the programme. A teacher or examiner who identifies or suspects poor academic practice or plagiarism should report the matter to the Scientific Director, who may investigate by any means considered appropriate. If a prima facie case is found, the student will be notified of the details and given an opportunity to explain; the student may be accompanied by a friend or adviser. The decision on the mark to be awarded or penalty will be taken by the Scientific Director, and reported to the Board of Examiners.

Master’s Thesis Seminar :

Students are required to attend a weekly seminar intended to identify a suitable topic for a thesis, develop and refine it, determine their theoretical perspective and empirical or other methodology, and conduct a literature review. The Masters Thesis Seminar will usually be conducted on a Wednesday afternoon, and counts for 4 credit. Students will be required to submit a 5,000-word essay. The longer essay will allow students to more fully develop a research topic, and it will be important preparation for the Master’s Thesis. Each student will also present to the Scientific Director a provisional title and a short outline for their thesis. Students will then be required to give a presentation of their proposed research for their thesis. Finally, students need to hand in a written proposal at the end of the coursework programme. The proposal will include the thesis’ aim, background, proposed methodology and methods, discussion of any ethical issues, and the proposed timetable. The proposal is also sent to the student’s supervisor.

Master´s Thesis :

Once approved, the main responsibility for advice to the student on the thesis passes to the supervisor. With the help and approval of the Scientific Director each student should select a suitable supervisor, who could be one of the course teachers, or another specialist on the topic chosen. The person nominated must confirm in writing to the Institute their willingness and availability to supervise. Students should keep in contact with the supervisor during the whole period of research and writing. The supervisor should read and comment on draft chapters or sections, according to an agreed timetable. If the student decides not to follow any of the advice given by the supervisor they should explain the reasons to the supervisor. Students must also send two progress reports 18 both to their supervisor and the Scientific Director: one at the end of June, and the other at the end of July. The student must send the supervisor a final draft of the whole thesis no later than 30th August of that year; the supervisor should send comments on this draft within one week of its receipt, and must approve the final draft for submission. The thesis should be of the style and substance of a substantial journal article. The length is a maximum of 15,000 words, including substantial text in footnotes and bibliography, but excluding appendices. The Scientific Director may approve a higher word limit if the candidate presents good reasons, for example related to the recognition of the degree in their own country. Penalties may be applied for exceeding the word limit. The thesis should normally be written in English. The use of other languages may be approved by the Scientific Director if supervision and examination can be arranged. The thesis should be typed, must include a full alphabetical list of all references. The final version of the thesis must be submitted to the Institute no later than 08:30 on 7th September of that year. If the thesis is not submitted by the deadline for a valid and unforeseeable reason, the student may, with the approval of the Institute, submit the thesis by a new approved deadline, for examination in the following year. If a thesis is not submitted by the deadline it may not be marked in time for the student to graduate until the following year. This may entail the student registering again for the course and payment of an additional fee to the UPV/EHU in respect of the thesis module.

Examination of Master´s Theses :

An external examiner is appointed to each thesis, and it is possible for examiners to mark more than one thesis. In order to maintain consistency, the Scientific Director usually examines every thesis. The examination process is in two stages:

  1.  Each examiner evaluates the thesis, gives comments, and sets questions for the student to address in a defence. A provisional grade is given, although this will not be sent to the student. The examiner’s comments will be sent to the student by the Institute, usually within one week of the submission of the thesis.
  2. The student then has the opportunity to defend the thesis. The defence is usually done in writing, although an oral defence can be requested. The defence should answer the specific questions posed, and not simply restate the arguments. The written defence must be received by the Institute within one week of the date that the comments were sent to the student. After reading the defence, the examiners assign a definitive grade. The provisional grade may be raised but not reduced as a result of reading the written defence.

Students who wish to do an oral defence. If the request for an oral defence must make a specific request before beginning of April. It may not be possible to arrange an oral defence if the request is made after this date. The oral defence may be by teleconference. Arrangements for an oral defence will be made individually with the student, but must take place at the latest by 26th September. In addition to the thesis examiners, other examiners in the programme with an expertise in the topic, including the supervisor, may participate in the oral defence.

The examiners should try to agree a joint grade, or the average of the two may be awarded. In the case of a significant divergence, the supervisor’s may be taken into account, and/or the thesis may be sent to a third person for examination.

The thesis is evaluated on the following criterion:

  • Choice of Topic and Approach: How appropriate is the topic for a sociology of law programme? Were the methodological and theoretical approaches appropriate?
  • Scholarly Techniques: Are the structure and expression effective and appropriate? Does the thesis read well? Does the thesis deploy an appropriate range of both primary and secondary sources? Are the sources properly cited and referenced? If the thesis presents an original piece of empirical work, how well is this organised and presented? Substance: Are the arguments and analyses put forward cogent and convincing? Do they take account of the main relevant work on the chosen topic, and show a good grasp of them? Does the thesis advance an effective critique of existing work or an alternative perspective?

IISL Grading Scheme :

Grades for courses and the Master’s Theses are given a numerical mark out of 10. While we do not apply a grading curve, there is a broad expectation that grades will fall within the following range: top 10% (A), next 25% (B), next 30% (C), next 25% (D).

Para más información: 

Susana Arrese Murguzur

Master coordination
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20560 Oñati (Gipuzkoa) - Spain
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