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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 methods of socio-legal research. To start with, we will look at the difference between methodology (why do you do your research in a certain way and how does this relate to different theoretical approaches) and methods (how do you do your research)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 methods of data collection, including interviewing, participant observation, archival research, and focus groups. Students will learn how to analyze such data, making use of qualitative data analysis software. Students will practice some of these methods by carrying out short assignments themselves. 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

  • Describe the strengths and weakness of the application of a qualitative approach;

  • Understand how question design relates to a particular data collection method;

  • Explain and conduct basic qualitative data collections techniques;

  • 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.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 10

  • Names of instructors: Amalia Campos Delgado and Matthew Canfield

  • 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 the operationalisation of research questions (10%), a Portfolio (50%) of the various research methods studied, and the Methodology Addendum to the Thesis Proposal (40%).

  • Students who fail the course can do a retake of the portfolio, on the condition they have partaken in all examination forms and have a pass grade for the Methodology Addendum.

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

  • All students are required to attend and actively participate during seminars.

Submission procedures
All assignments must be submitted via TurnitIn (BrightSpace).

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

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


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.  



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

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

  • Room number secretary: KOG (Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden), room B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday and Friday morning

  • Telephone number secretary: 071-5278890

  • Email: