Skip to main content

Law: Legislation

This guide is a list of sources for theses and dissertations. It will also help you find potential topics for your dissertation.

What is legislation? What can we find and where?

The term 'legislation' covers both the process of making laws and the documents which are produced as a result of the legislative bodies' decisions.  This guide will deal with the documents, including online resources.

Other terms which you may hear in relation to legislation include:

  • Statute law
  • Acts
  • Orders
  • Regulations
  • Statutory Instruments
  • Primary Legislation
  • Secondary or Delegated Legislation

United Kingdom legislation: The Hartley Library has a complete printed collection of English Public and General Acts of Parliament.  Acts of the Scottish Parliament since devolution are also held.  We have a good, but not complete, set of Local Acts.  Our collection of Secondary Legislation (statutory instruments, rules and orders) is extensive.  See the box to the right for a selection of online sources.

Other jurisdictions: We have less print material for other jurisdictions and most is historic. Both Westlaw and Lexis Library contain legislation from around the English-speaking world, including Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, India and South Africa.  There are also good free sources for many jurisdictions which can be located via WorldLII.

Online sources for legislation

There are many sources of online legislation, but the most useful source for your purposes will depend to some extent on what you need.  Do you want to see the law as it was passed or do you need to know the current state?  Do you simply need the legislation itself or do you want extra information, perhaps explanations or information on related cases and journal articles? 

Legislation - drafting, deciding and after

It is common to wish to know what happened before a piece of legislation was passed and to know about cases and subsequent changes after the legislation was passed. 

The Parliament web pages are very useful for current or recent parliamentary progress of bills and most of the legal databases to which we subscribe offer an option to search for cases citing a particular piece of legislation.

If you are looking for this information for older legislation you may need to use print sources. 

The document below introduces some of the tools which you can use to help with these kinds of research, but please ask for further help as required.

You may also wish to see...

... our British Official Publications libguide.



Follow @UniSotonLibrary