Written Course Work and Essays

All students must fulfill the Minimum Writing Requirement* by one of the three following methods:

  1. Writing an essay** in a two-credit or three-credit course in which the essay constitutes no less than 75% of the final weight of grading assigned to the course, must be passed with a grade of C or higher; OR
  2. Writing a term essay** must be passed with a grade of C or higher; OR
  3. Writing an article, note or comment of equivalent substance that is published or accepted for publication in one of the following journals: McGill Law Journal, McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy, or McGill Journal of Law and Health, and approved by the Faculty Advisor of the Journal.

The work submitted in order to satisfy the Minimum Writing Requirement must be done independently, rather than by two or more students working together.

*The writing requirement is intended to involve independent research by the student on a topic largely developed by the student and to give rise to a written product that includes proper footnoting and a bibliography.

**The faculty guideline for papers is 10-15 pages per credit – a three-credit paper is meant to be 10,000 words, for example (roughly 40 pages at 250 words per page), exclusive of bibliography and footnotes. This can be shortened (minimum 8000 words) where there are additional assessments given in a course.

Note about the S/U option - the S/U Option is not permitted when meeting the writing requirement.

Writing requirements: the document detailing the applicable courses for writing requirements is currently being updated and the new version will be reposted once it is completed.

Term Essays

WRIT 491 Term Essay 1A 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WRIT 494 Term Essay 1B 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WRIT 495 Term Essay 1C 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WRIT 492 Term Essay 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WRIT 493 Term Essay 3 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Students who have completed one year in the BCL/JD Program may elect, with the permission of the Associate Dean (Academic), to write an essay for credit. It is the responsibility of applicants to arrange with a full-time member of the Faculty to act as a Supervisor for their essays. Supervisory resources are limited, so it is best to approach potential supervisors as early as possible.

Application process

Fill in the online Term Essay Authorization Form. A proposed table of contents, a clear statement of the essay thesis, and a preliminary bibliography of sources must be appended to the application form and approved by the supervisor (full-time member of the Faculty) before the application is submitted.

Refer to Current Deadlines for appropriate submission dates and the Current Courses section of the website for more information.

Students may not register for more than two Term Essays in any given term. If two term essays are completed in the same term, they must be supervised by two different professors.

Students must register in the appropriate term essay course on Minerva. The SAO will only contact you the student should the application be refused or additional information is required.

If your research involves humans

McGill follows strict research integrity standards. Alongside this, McGill cultivates and reinforces a culture that enables its members to identify and resolve conflicts of interest with the support and guidance of the administration and their units.

Be aware that before any recruitment or data collection can occurs, an ethics review and approval of research involving humans must be obtained.

Students must work closely with their term essay supervisor in seeking approval. Please refer to Research and Innovation (R+I) Unit's section on Ethics and Compliance Overview on how to apply.

The Capstone Project (6 credits)

WRIT 449D1 The Capstone Project 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

WRIT 449D2 The Capstone Project 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

The Capstone Project is meant to provide an opportunity for reflection on a student’s trajectory as a jurist towards the end of that student’s formal legal education at the Faculty and may be undertaken using various modes of communication including but not limited to academic writing. Students completing Capstone Projects will present their work to the graduating class. Students can undertake a Capstone Project in the last two terms of their program (except with special permission of the Associate Dean (Academic)).

Application process

Fill in the online Term Essay Authorization Form. A proposed table of contents, a clear statement of the essay thesis, and a preliminary bibliography of sources must be appended to the application form and approved by the supervisor (full-time member of the Faculty) before the application is submitted.

Refer to Current Deadlines for appropriate submission dates and the Current Courses section of the website for more information.

Senior Essays - no longer offered.

WRIT 400D1 Senior Essay 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WRIT 400D2 Senior Essay 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Writing and Drafting Project - Graduate students only

WRIT 520 Writing & Drafting Project 1 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Graduate students may take the Writing and Drafting Project (1 credit) only once, with the approval of the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies). The project must relate to a course successfully completed in a previous term and must be supervised by a Faculty instructor with expertise in the area.

Applicants are responsible for arranging supervision with a full-time member of Faculty for their essays.

Application process

Download the Writing and Drafting application form from Forms and documents for law students. The application form must be approved by the supervisor before the application is submitted.

Refer to Current Deadlines for appropriate submission dates and the Current Courses section of the website for more information.

Students must register in the appropriate course on Minerva before the end of the course change period. The SAO will only contact the student should the application be refused or additional information is required.

Deadlines for handing in term essay and capstone project 

Essays are due on or before the fifth working day prior to the last working day of the examination period for the term in which the essay is being written. Click on Deadlines for specific due dates.

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