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Referencing and RefWorks

OSCOLA Referencing

When studying law at RGU, you will use the OSCOLA system of referencing.

If you have any questions, get in touch at

Please note: this companion guide is intended as a signpost for information regarding the official OSCOLA referencing guidance from the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford. It does not replace or supersede that guidance, which can be read and accessed below.

Why Reference?


To support your arguments by citing sources that back up your points
To give credit to authorities whose work you have referred to or quoted from
To avoid accusations of plagiarism
To allow the reader to find the sources that you have read
To demonstrate that you understand the conventions of academic and legal writing
Every time you quote directly from someone else’s work
Every time you refer indirectly to the work of someone else, e.g. if you:
  • paraphrase what they have said
  • summarise their arguments or ideas
  • quote case studies, statistical data, known phrases, definitions etc.
  • use information which you have obtained from their work
When you wish to provide sources of further information, clarification of points you have made in your text, or additional evidence to support your arguments

What is...


Plagiarism is theft of intellectual property and you should absolutely avoid it in all your assignments, by referencing all the sources you have used.

The University has a very strict policy against plagiarism and dealing with students accused of it. We’re not saying don’t get caught plagiarising, we say just don’t do it, it’s not worth the risk! As long as you reference according to our guidelines, you will be fine.

This guide explains the OSCOLA style of referencing. If you correctly follow the style explained here, you will avoid any risk of plagiarism.

If in doubt, reference!

For more information, see RGU Study Skills' guide to Academic Honesty (via Moodle).


We say you paraphrase when you take someone else’s ideas, theories, opinions, etc. and write them in your own words. This is great because you can show your understanding of the concept, but that doesn’t mean it is your own original idea. So, you must reference the originator of the idea. If you don’t, it will constitute plagiarism, which we're sure you'll want to avoid!

Directly Quoting

This is when you copy the exact words from a book, journal article, website, etc. It’s ok to include quotations here and there in your assignments, but try not to overdo it, as too many quotations might get frowned upon. It is your work as well! A few things to keep in mind:

  • short quotations (up to three lines of text) can be contained in your paragraph and should always be enclosed within single 'quotation marks' and introduced with a comma ,
  • longer quotations should appear as a separate indented paragraph and do not require quotation marks. These should be intorduced with a colon :
  • don’t forget to reference all your quotations!
  • the citation after the quote will have to include a pinpoint to the exact page where you took the extract from. The exception is when there are no pages, like webpages, or where page numbers vary depending on text size, such as Kindle books.

All quotations need to be referenced properly.  If they are not this constitutes plagiarism.

Stages of OSCOLA Referencing

Footnotes are a combination of a superscript number within your text, and a corresponding reference at the foot of the page.

This should normally be at the end of a sentence, after the full stop.


  • numbered consecutively as they appear in text, starting with 1
  • the number in the text corresponds to the footnote of the same number

Microsoft Word has a simple way of applying footnotes. Make sure your cursor is where you would like the footnote to appear, open the References menu, then select Insert Footnote. A superscript number and blank footnote will be generated automatically. Repeat as necessary.

You will be required to produce separate tables for your primary sources (cases, legislation etc.) at the start of your work.

  • Table of Cases: List of all cases cited. Case names should appear non-italicised and be arranged alphabetically by first significant word. For example, Re Toal's Application for Judicial Review would appear as Toal's Application for Judicial Review, Re. Divide into different sections based on jurisdiction as appropriate e.g. Scotland, England/Wales, EU etc.
  • Table of Legislation: List of all statutes cited, which should appear after table of cases. Legislation should be arranged alphabetically by first significant word in the title, not chronologically by date of enactment. Statutory Instruments should appear after statutes in this list, though if you have a large number of SIs, you could accommodate them in separate lists for primary and secondary legislation. Like cases, you may also divide sections based on jurisdiction as appropriate.
  • Other tables may include the following: Table of international treaties and conventions, Table of UN documents, Table of official papers, Table of policy documents.

    The bibliography (or reference list) is a list containing all of the secondary sources you have cited in your work. It should also be formatted as follows:

  • Included at the end of your work on a new page following the concluding paragraph.
  • Sources within it are arranged in alphabetical order by author surname.
  • Bibliography entries should be identical to footnotes, except swap an author's first and last names and include the initials only. So, for a footnote that begins: Hector L MacQueen, the bibliography entry should begin: MacQueen HL.
  • If more than one work by the same author is used, these are arranged chronologically (oldest first). Do not repeat the author's name, but replace their name with a double em dash: —— .

More OSCOLA Resources


OSCOLA: Official guides

Official OSCOLA guidance from the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford.

Guidance on citing Irish law developed by a number of Irish law schools.

OSCOLA: Interactive guides

OSCOLA: Further resources

Additional resources illustrating the basics of referencing using OSCOLA.