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Legal Methods Lab


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Completion of at least one of the 100-level courses of the International Justice Major.


When reading any contract, statute, treaty, or other legal document, it becomes evident that lawyers, judges, and legal scholars have a unique way of writing and making arguments marked by a particular style and framed by a range of specific conventions. With a view to familiarizing students with legal methods, this course focuses on legal research, reasoning, writing, and contestation.

As the name ‘lab’ indicates this course is really about learning skills. Each week will be dedicated to developing a specific skill. Students will learn to locate, select, and properly cite legal sources in accordance with the most widely used styles. They will further learn how to write a literature review appropriate to legal scholarship; how to formulate legal arguments; and how to read and assess cases and how to plead like a lawyer.

The different assignments correspond to the different skills to be learned in the framework of this “lab”. They will be carried out individually as well as in small groups and will allow students to learn the basics for legal research as well as to grasp the subtleties of both written and oral legal argumentation.

Course Objectives


  • Conduct legal research, including the location, selection, and classification of primary and secondary sources;

  • Properly cite and format legal sources, both secondary and primary;

  • Interpret, compare, and analyze legal sources;

  • Present, defend, and comment on legal arguments;

  • Write a literature review and a case note


  • Define core legal concepts and terms;

  • Use legal sources and formulate well-written legal arguments supported by appropriate sources.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each week will focus on a specific theme and is aimed at developing particular skill though lectures and several interactive exercises (individual and in small groups), including a moot court exercise.

The course will explore the following themes:

  • Legal sources and referencing

  • Writing a literature review

  • Legal argumentation

  • The assessment of case-law and pointers for writing a case note

  • Tips and tricks for becoming a good pleader

  • Oral pleadings (in the moot court exercise)

Assessment Method

General participation (10%)

  • Literature review (individual), including outline (35%)

  • Mini-moot court (in small groups) (15%)

  • Case note (individual), including outline (40%)

The two larger written exercises (the literature review and the case note) will both be preceded by the submission of an outline/draft in order to allow for detailed feedback before the handing in of the final version. The final part of the course will be devoted to the moot court exercise.

Reading list

Students have to acquire the following book for this course:

  • M. Snel and J. De Moraes, Doing a systematic literature review in legal scholarship (Eleven International Publishing, 2019).

Links to other compulsory readings will be provided on Brightspace.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. H. Cuyckens:
Dr. J.E. Larik:


Note that it is strongly recommend that all students majoring in IJ take Legal Methods Lab as it offers foundational skills for the major.