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Law Library Guide: Home

This guide will help you understand and develop the skills necessary to conduct Legal Research

Welcome / Wamkelekile / Welkom

This guide is intended to aid your understanding and ability to conduct legal research.

Having the ability to effectively research will aid you not only as a student but also when in practice. Being able to conduct research will allow you to quickly and effectively answer legal problems, incorporating the newest sources.

If you are not familiar with UCT Libraries general practices - follow this guide or watch the video below

Access to Resources

If you are working from off campus - you need to sign into the Off-campus Login page with your UCT student number and password and then select UCT Libraries:

Certain resources require a password - please contact the Law Library to get this information

About the Law Library

The Brand van Zyl Law Library is located on Level 2 of the Brand van Zyl building on Middle Campus.

Its hours are as follows:

Term time:

Mon - Thu: 08h00 - 22h00

Fri: 08h00 - 17h00

Sat: 09h00 - 17h00

Examination period:

Mon - Thu: 08h00 - 23h00

Fri: 08h00 - 17h00

Sat: 09h00 - 17h00

Sun: 10h00 - 17h00

Long vacation:

Mon - Fri: 08h30 - 17h00

Sat: 09h00 - 12h00

Want to contact us

Tel: 021 650 2708/9

Introduction to Legal Sources

Primary Sources:

These are the law itself. It can be found within legislation, the common law and within cases (particularly those that have set a precedent).

Cases and legislation can be found both in print and online (via LexisNexis, Juta, Sabinet). The common law derives from both English law as well as Roman Dutch law - this can be found in the commentaries of the authorities - found in print.



                                                              Secondary Sources:

This is commentary on the law. Usually found in opinion pieces by legal authority figures such as journal articles or books. Journal articles can be accessed electronically using the UCT e-Journal portal and books can be found using the UCT Aleph catalogue.

UCT Libraries Good Conduct Rules

When using the Libraries - keep the following rules in mind:


A person shall not make noise, cause a disturbance, make or take cell phone calls, hold public meetings or demonstrations, within UCT Libraries, or behave in such a manner that would interfere with or impact negatively on study and research activities of library users.



Food may not be consumed in UCT Libraries. Drinks are permitted only in special library-approved spill-proof containers. Smoking is not permitted.



All cell phones must be on silent mode. Making or taking cell phone calls in UCT Libraries is prohibited.

cell phones


Any person infringing the rules of conduct may be required to leave the library and/or have library privileges suspended or withdrawn and/or face disciplinary proceedings.



What if I can't find it in the library?

If you are struggling to find a resource - come and see one of the reference librarians (situated behind the circulation desk).

If your resource isn't in the library, you can also contact Interlibrary Loans to try to get the resource for you. You can access interlibrary loans by clicking on the following icon on the home screen.

Simply fill out the relevant form (choose between book or journal) - try to put in as much detail as possible!