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Law - LLB and other law degrees (1st Year Support): Reference Sources

Research assistance, subject guides and useful library resources for first year law students, compiled by the Faculty of Law librarians


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What are reference sources?

Reference sources are publications that briefly provide us with introductory information on various topic. At times, reference sources also helps us to find other research sources. The main examples of reference sources are dictionaries and encyclopaedias. The Law of South Africa (LAWSA) is an encyclopaedia of South African law, and it is described as the starting point of South African legal research. LAWSA is found online in the Lexis Library database. We have linked below other reference sources for your use. 

Reference sources are secondary sources.

Electronic reference works for Law available in UJ databases

Click on theInfo icon | Myiconfindernext to a database link to find a description of the database


Selection of key reference works for law in hard copy in the Library



Legal Encyclopaedias

"The Law of South Africa (Lawsa) is the only complete narrative statement of South African law from all its sources, including statutory law, case law and common law. It has been published for over 40 years and is widely considered a prestigious authority and first point of reference for research. It is arranged alphabetically by subject into 162 titles, each title written by a subject expert from the judiciary, legal profession or academia and is vetted by an eminent editorial panel. It includes several indexes and an updating service. Available in online and in print as 63 hard cover title volumes + 2 volume Lawsa supplement." (Definition from LexisNexis)

(Hard copy available at shelf code RA LAWelectronically  available on LexisNexis (Reference Works, Indexes, Dictionaries and Diaries) 



Research Support

Find search guides, training videos and tutorials that will assist you with searching for reference sources on the Research Support page of this LibGuide.

Reputable Links

Reputable Internet links to reference sources such as Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations can be found on the Reputable Links page of this LibGuide.