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Researching Law in Society


Admission requirements:

This course is open to students enrolled in the Master Law and Society.


This module offers an introduction to qualitative and quantitative methods of socio-legal research. To start with, we will look at the difference between methods (how do you do your research) and methodology (why do you do your research in a certain way and how does this relate to different theoretical approaches). Students will be made familiar with some of the key methodologies that are used by socio-legal researchers. They will learn the basics of how to use qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection, including interviewing, participant observation, surveys, archival research, and the studying of court documents. Students will learn how to analyze such data, making use of qualitative and quantitative data analysis software. Students will practice some of these methods by carrying out short assignments themselves, but will also be working together in teams to enhance cross-fertilization: Students from law/legal background will be working together with students from a social-scientific background and students with a more quantitative background will be paired with students trained in a more qualitative/ethnographic tradition. In so doing, the students will naturally learn from each other and see how both perspectives complement each other in trying to understand and make sense of the development and the effects of law in society. The methods discussed and practiced during this course will be used during the assignments for the following courses. Throughout the course, lecturers will refer to concrete experiences of conducting empirical research and discuss the challenges they encountered.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students are able to

  • Carry out basic interviews, making use of structured, semi-structured and open-ended interview guides and take notes of interviews and observations;

  • Carry out basic qualitative analysis of interview transcripts, field notes and other texts with the use of support software ATLAS.ti and on the basis of their own coding schemes;

  • Understand the core subjects of research ethics;

  • Report on research findings based on own analysis.


The timetable of this course can be found here.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 10

  • Names of instructors: to be announced

  • Required preparation by students: study assigned materials, including reading texts and watching video lectures and knowledge clips.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Evaluation is based on a portfolio plus reflection paper (70%), an in-class presentation (20%) and providing peer feedback on the presentation of a fellow student (10%).

  • Students who fail the course can do a retake of the portfolio, on the condition they have partaken in all examination forms.

  • Grades remain valid for the academic year in which they were attained.

Submission procedures
To be announced.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

All mandatory and recommended reading materials will be distributed via Brightspace.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: Amalia Campos Delgado

  • Work address: KOG (Steenschuur 25 Leiden)

  • Telephone number: 071-5278890

  • Email:


  • Institute: Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law (Metajuridica)

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society

  • Room number secretary: KOG (Steenschuur 25 Leiden), room B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday

  • Telephone number secretary: 071-5278890

  • Email: