• Library building closed. Do not return books until further notice.

Law - Law for non-lawyers: a brief overview

The study of British law concerns the study of primary legal materials - Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments, governmental orders, regulations and law reports - and of secondary sources, including journal articles books and ebooks, Parliamentary Papers and other sources surrounding and discussing the primary sources.

Whilst the Discovery Service offers a good general search of academic journals, it does not necessarily distinguish by different legislative regimes. You need to take great care to ensure that any articles you find are about the correct jurisdiction. Most law courses at Portsmouth concentrate on English law but you may be studying another country. If that is the case please do consult Mystery or Sharon about locating appropriate resources. Remember too that our main legal databases may not make their entire content visible to Discovery.

The two main sources for primary legal sources are Westlaw and LexisLibrary. Both have powerful search features that will allow you to find precisely what you need in its most current form. Both Lexis and Westlaw present core primary law supported by their own mix of secondary materials. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and also contain a significant amount of material from covering other jurisdictions. The Law team are happy to help if you have difficulties locating precisely what you need.

You can browse print copies of the latest issues of law journals in Area 1C on the first floor of the Library.

When completing assignments for a law unit, always check which referencing system you should be using. Instructions for referencing law using both the APA and OSCOLA systems are available from Referencing@Portsmouth and are illustrated further through numerous Library guides that are available for you to download from the Library website.


Primary and secondary legal resources, plus UK newspapers.

Provides guidance on how to correctly reference a wide range of resources in any of the formats in general use at Portsmouth University. Plenty of examples are provided.

• Westlaw 

Primary and secondary legal resources plus EU materials.

Your Subject Team

Mystery Beck

Faculty Librarian Law & Criminology

Email: Mystery.Beck@port.ac.uk

Phone: (023) 9284 3240

Sharon Bittner

Assistant Faculty Librarian (Humanities, Law, & Criminology)

Email: sharon.bittner@port.ac.uk

Phone: (023) 9284 3234