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Law: Citing and Referencing Legal Sources: Online Support Guide

This guide will assist you to cite legal sources for your assignments and dissertations

   Citing and referencing legal sources

The Law School uses the OSCOLA referencing style


Other styles are used within the University - use the online University Referencing Guide for full information on styles and reference management software.

OSCOLA (The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) was developed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond. OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty, in consultation with the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board.

General Referencing Guidance

There are a number of different referencing styles used at the University.  If you need to explore another style, in addition to OSCOLA, take a look at the University Referencing Guide for full information.  That identifiers which styles are used within each department.

You’ll see that for most styles the guidance is covered by Cite them right,  e.g. APA, Chicago, IEEE, MHRA, MLA, OSCOLA and Vancouver, for some styles such as Oxford, the university has produced it's own guide.

The University Referencing Guide also signposts reference management software that you may wish to consider.


The University subscribes to Cite them right, an online resource designed to help you to reference correctly and avoid plagiarism. Here you’ll find guidance on how to use your referencing style* to cite a broad range of sources from books and journals to social media, software programs, media and arts, reviews and performances, among others.  

*The University has produced its own guidance for styles not covered by Cite them right. Visit the Referencing styles page for more information. 

You will need to log in to Cite them right using your university email and password. 
Explore the basics of referencing for your department's required style on Cite them Right.  Login with your university username and password for access. 


  • Cite them right includes a ‘basics of referencing’ section which is helpful for all students.  

  • Unless specifically stated, the examples in this section use the Harvard style. You will need to bear in mind that although the principles will be similar, you’ll need to check the details for your own referencing style. 
  • Once you have read through the basics you can access some specific style guides. If your style isn't mentioned in this section, please go to the Referencing Styles tab on the home page of this guide and find your referencing style.


Cite them right basics for referencing screenshot


Complete the referencing tutorial on Cite them right to learn the principles of referencing. The first time you use the tutorial you will need to register with an email address and a password (this does not need to be your university username and password).


Cite them right referencing tutorial click through image



Sections 8-11 of the tutorial require you to chose a referencing style. If your style isn't mentioned, please leave the tutorial and go directly to your referencing style guide. This is listed in the Referencing Styles tab on the left hand menu of this guide.

When writing at university you will use information from a range of different sources. Your tutors will direct you to some but others you will have to find for yourself. You need to select these sources carefully and acknowledge them in your work by providing in-text citations and a reference list, or in some disciplines, footnotes and a bibliography.

You need to evaluate your sources to assess their reliability, authority and validity before you decide to use them. As a general rule, you should not refer to sources such as book reviews, Wikipedia or lecture notes in your work. Do not use or refer to essays that you have found online as these may come from ‘essay mills’ and are therefore not reliable sources. For further guidance on evaluating sources, take a look at the Evaluating Sources LibGuide Tutorial.

A DOI is a unique alpha numeric string that provides a permanent link to the document’s location online. You can often find the DOI on the title page of the journal article. 

Use the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) if the source has one – it is preferable to a URL as it never changes; because of this you do not need to include a retrieval date for a reference that has a DOI (but check the rules of the style you are using just to make sure of the conventions of the style). 

Use the URL for sources that have no DOI and give the retrieval date (some styles such as APA don’t require a retrieval date, but you are advised to include one for a source that is not in a fixed, non-editable format). is a website that allows you to check whether a source has its own DOI and has a tool for locating a source that does have a DOI. You can turn a DOI into a URL by appending the DOI to 

Citing & Referencing Support at Exeter

Study Zone

Contact Study Zone about a 1-1 appointment, attending a Writing Café or other study skills workshop.

Citing & Referencing Support at Penryn

Contact ASK: Academic Skills @ Cornwall.  

The ASK team of advisors support student learning at the University of Exeter (Cornwall Campuses).  Support includes workshops on writing, referencing and study skills, study guides and 1:1 appointments.

Finding and Using Resources

  • Academic Liaison Librarians: the team are here to support you to make full use of the resources for learning and research.

  • LibGuides: a suite of online library support guides to help you make the most of print and online resources.

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