Law in Action


About this minor

Get introduced to different empirical methods as used in law, from small interviews to large-scale behavioral studies. No prior knowledge is required.

Take a look at the video and learn more about this minor.

How can we test the effects of sanctions on compliance? What affects judicial decision-making? Such questions, and more, can be addressed by employing empirical methods to law. Students will be introduced to different empirical methods, from small interviews to large-scale behavioral studies (e.g. nudges). No prior knowledge of methodology or law is required. This is not a statistics course, nor is it a law course which delves into specific legal cases. No overlap with bachelor 1 ELS.

Over the years, legal scholarship witnessed a rise in the incorporation of insights and methods from social sciences like sociology, economics and psychology. Interviews, case studies, surveys, experiments and statistics are no longer uncommon in legal research and have become the main ingredients of a new field of legal research - Empirical Legal Studies (ELS). For practicing lawyers and policy makers too, the importance of empirical data is continuously rising.

In this minor, students will:

  • Get acquainted with the field of ELS
  • Learn how to formulate empirical legal research questions themselves.
  • Become familiar with various methods and research designs that can be used to systematically investigate such questions (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Learn from invited experts about the practical application of ELS in national and international policy-making.

No prior knowledge of law, empirical methodology or statistics is required. The focus is on the design and application of empirical methods, statistical analysis will not be covered. The course is suitable for law students but can also be interesting for social sciences students who want to learn how empirical methods are applied in the legal context and by policy makers.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the relevance and importance of empirical methods to law and policy.
  • Formulate empirical legal research questions.
  • Describe which empirical methods are available to answer these questions.
  • Understand the different empirical methods
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.
  • Critically evaluate empirical findings.
  • Understand how empirical methods can be applied in legal practice.
  • Pinpoint how policy makers today apply empirical research in policy making at the national and international level.
  • Design your own empirical study.

Good to know

  • This course will be taught in English.
  • It is suitable for law students and students from social sciences.
  • No prior knowledge in law, methodology or statistics is required.
  • Aside from lectures, this course will include group work and class presentations to deepen the understanding of what empirical legal methods are and how they can be applied.
  • Students will have an opportunity to meet experts from national and international institutions and learn how they apply empirical methods to policy-making.
  • Open for students who attended the Empirical Legal Studies course in Bachelor 1, but also those
  • without any prior experience.
  • Suitable for part time students.
  • The course will be taught fully on campus but we will try to accommodate the needs of part time students.
  • Lecture attendance is not mandatory but highly recommended. Participation in the evaluation days (group presentations, individual presentations) and the guest lecture is mandatory.

Teaching method and examination

Teaching methods

  • Interactive lectures - bring the knowledge to the students.
  • Guest lectures by experts – understand the practical usefulness of the field/method.
  • Group assignments with feedback from the lecturers - teamwork and application of studied insights.
  • Individual presentations and peer feedback – apply independently the studies skills; develop own ideas; develop presentation skills; develop critical thinking.
  • Self and group study – reading materials to prepare for classes and meetings.
  • Participate in class experiments for a first-hand experience of the methods taught.

Teaching material

  • Presentation slides
  • Academic literature (textbooks and articles)
  • Policy reports
  • An online programme (can be easily and freely accessed via the internet) to conduct live experiments in class to illustrate the taught methods.

Method of examination
The method of examination in this minor will consists of 3 parts, in order to give due weight to all the elements of the course.

  • 3 Group assignments.
  • 1 Individual presentation & feedback.
  • 1 Final exam.

Composition final grade
The final grade consists of 3 parts.

  • Group assignments: 30% (10% per assignment).
  • Individual presentations & feedback: 30%.
  • Final exam: 40%.

To pass the course, the total grade should not be below 5.5.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Erasmus University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      8 November 2024
    • Term *
      Block MINOR
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      15 May, 13:00 - 15 Jul 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Erasmus University