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Law, Governance and Development (LAW)


Admission requirements

This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences (anthropology, sociology of development, public administration), and Humanities (history, area studies, arts). Non-law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with the outlines of law, whereas law students should be willing to engage in subjects beyond the rules of black letter law. For this course, a sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher) is required.


Serious efforts to meet global challenges will sooner or later encounter the limits of law in developing countries. About 125 states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are generally referred to as ‘developing’ or sometimes ‘non-western’ countries or ‘the Global South’. This course addresses the formation and functioning of the legal systems of these countries, notably in their relation to development. At the interface between state and society, it should be the function of law and legal institutions to regulate people’s security, economic advancement, social justice and environmental protection, to mention just a few goals of development. This raises several important socio-legal questions. To what extent are developing countries’ legal systems able to implement standards set by international law, to provide access and remedies to justice-seekers, and to support good governance and the development of society at large? To understand the capacities of these systems to make laws, implement them, and adjudicate conflicts, we will have to know what they look like, whether they consist of legal transplants from the West, or perhaps are based on other conceptions of law like customary law, divine Islamic law, or other traditions? How does state law relate to ‘non-state law’? We also need to understand how legal systems operate in a heterogeneous and rapidly changing society. Economic, political and social problems have their impact on the effectiveness of legal and governance institutions. This begs the overarching question of this course. In as far as legal systems do not operate pro-poor, is there anything to be done about that? In other words, what is the scope for strengthening legal systems and promoting the rule of law and human rights in the developing world? This course addresses issues of access to justice for the common man and pays particular attention to different notions of justice at international, national and local arenas.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Identify the interrelationships between law, governance, and development

  • Identify and compare the formal features of law and governance prevalent in many developing countries and the actual working of these formal systems

  • debate the prevailing conceptual frameworks in this field (rule of law, legal pluralism, (good) governance, access to justice, etc.)

  • explain the complicated relationship between law and development

  • evaluate the feasibility of external interventions aimed at making the systems more effective


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 2 × 2 hours for 6 weeks

  • Names of lecturers: Janine Ubink and guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: reading of two to three English academic articles before each session.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Three short assignments (pass/fail) – you need to pass a minimum of two of these assignments to be allowed to write the exam.

  • Written exam (100%)

If the exam grade is lower than 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. Pass grades for examination components lapse at the end of the academic year if a student does not pass the course.

Submission procedures
Not applicable

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination matter consists of the required reading for the course, additional lecture notes (mainly slides) as put on Brightspace, and the subject matter actually taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations) on the condition that this course is not part of the minor. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials Literature:

  • None

Course information guide:

  • Not applicable



Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest students), look here (under the Law-tab) for more information on the registration procedure in your situation.

Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.


  • Coordinator: Nada Heddane MA

  • Work address: KOG, room A.1.53.

  • Contact information: via secretariat,

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7493

  • Email:


  • Institute: Metajuridica

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law

  • Room number secretary: KOG, room B1.14

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0) 527 7260

  • Email: