Skip to Main Content

Law: New Law Students: Getting Started

How to find law reports, journal articles and other sources of legal information

Key points for new students at Queen's

Welcome to Queen's!

As a new law student there are 5 things you need to know now:

  1. What is academic content?
  2. What about legal content?
  3. How will you know what content you need?
  4. How to navigate around the McClay Library - and how to use the Library to borrow books, study, scan or photocopy material
  5. How to get help or make contact with us

1. Types of academic content

Academic content has been peer-reviewed before publication. This means that academic experts in the subject area have reviewed and checked it for quality. So you can trust it is high quality and acceptable to use in your assignments.

Here are three examples of academic content: a books, a chapter in a book and a journal article. Find all of these using Library Search


1. Books 
Finch, E and Fafinski, S, Legal skills (8th edn, OUP, 2021)  ​

To find a book type a few words from the title of the book into Library Search.  Library Search will show the locations of all print copies of books that you can borrow. It will also include links to any books are available for you read on-line in e-book format.


2. Chapter in books 
Connors, J and Schmidt, M, 'United Nations' in Moeckli, D, Shah, S and Sivakumaran, S (eds) International human rights law (3rd edn, OUP 2018) pp 369-424 ​

This chapter, called 'United Nations', was published as a book called International human rights law. To find this chapter, search for the book in Library Search using the book title. When you have the book, check the the contents page to find the chapter you need. 


Book not available?
  • Is the the print book you need on loan? You may request it's return. Simply sign in to Library Search as prompted from the results page and place a request. The book will be recalled from the current reader who will have seven days to return it. When the book is returned you will receive a notification to your Queen's email address.
  • If the book you need does not appear in our catalogue, please email your Subject Librarian, who will investigate purchasing.


3. Journal articles 
David Nelken, 'Using the Concept of Legal Culture' (2004) 29 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 1

Note the year, 2004, the volume number 29 and first page of the article here: 1. Journals are usually published several times a year, so there could be several volumes for the same year. There are two ways to find this:

  • First, copy and paste the title into Library Search. Tip: if you know the exact title, search for it using "double quotation marks" around the words you are using.
  • If this doesn't work, find out if this is an ejournal by checking Journal Search, located just above your results in Library Search. Then locate the Year and Volume number. 


2. Finding legal content

The main types of legal content you will need to find are cases and legislation. As a law student, you will be expected to use legal databases to search for legal content. 


Case law references

Giles v Thompson [1993] 2 W.L.R. 908  - law report only

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884 - a neutral citation, but in line with good practice the law report has been included. See Finding cases.  


Legislation references

Human Rights Act 1998

Human Rights Act, s 15(1) (b) - Specifically citing paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 15


The main legal databases we use at Queen's are:



Find these databases and others in the Law Databases A-Z on this guide, or on the Library Catalogue page in the Databases link. 

3. How will I know what content I need?

To get started, refer to your module handbook or reading list provided by your tutor. This will provide details of all material you need to read for your assignments. Much of this content may be available to you on Canvas, but in some cases you may be expected to find books, book chapters and journal articles yourself using the Library at Queen's. This guide will get you started. 

If you would like a refresher on academic expectations and working with scholarly material at university the best place to start is with our short Transition Skills online course. This will outline what is expected of you at university.

4.The McClay Library





  • Always bring your student card with you to the Library
  • The McClay Library operates a controlled entry system
  • Use your student card to gain admission to the Library building



Study spaces in the McClay Library



  • Study spaces are located throughout The McClay Library
  • Note Silent and Whisper Zones
  • Do not eat food in the Library. Only bring in drinks with lids
  • Photocopiers and scanners are located on each floor of the Library. Upload money onto your Student Card to pay for printing. Scanning is free, but you need a £1.00 balance to operate this service. You will need to use your card to release printing.




  • Although many book in the Library are available as ebooks, some titles are only available as print books.
  • In subjects such as Law print remains an important format from which to access content.
  • Undergraduate students may borrow 15 books at a time. Find out more here. To borrow, use contactless self-service borrowing stations located on all floors of the Library

5. Getting help and making contact

Compass image -  getting help

The QUB Chatbot is a good first port of call if you are lost online. Find it on the Library homepage. 

Library Help FAQs : quick, focused answers to common questions.

This subject guide: content updated by your Subject Librarian. Included links to resources and tips on how to get best use out of the Library.

Your Subject Librarian: make initial contact via email. Email queries, questions or comments or arrange to meet for a one-to-one skills session via MS Teams

AHSS Digital Champions: a student-led team supporting other students' online learning & digital skills in the AHSS Faculty