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Over deze minor

Learn how empirical methods can be used in law & policy. Students will learn how empirical methods can be used in law & policy. Different methods will be covered, 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. It is also not a law course which delves into specific legal cases. No overlap with bachelor 1 ELS. How can we accurately predict judicial decisions? How can we test the effects of different sanction regimes on compliance with the law? How can policy makers know the effects of legal rules on people’s behavior – e.g., do longer prison sentences reduce crime? All these questions can be addressed by employing different empirical methods to law.

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

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 minors, students will:

Get acquainted with the field of ELS	Learn how to formulate empirical legal research questions themselves.	Become familiar with various methods that can be used to systematically investigate such questions (qualitative and quantitative)	Be introduced to important empirical findings in the legal domain.	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 also for social sciences students who want to learn how empirical methods are applied in the legal context and by policy makers.


  • 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.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.
  • Critically evaluate empirical findings.
  • Become acquainted with important findings obtained with different empirical research methods.
  • 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 own empirical study.

Onderwijsmethode en toetsing

  • 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.

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.

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.

Goed om te weten

  • 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.

Aanvullende informatie

  • Code
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    ECTS 15
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