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Elective: Current Issues in Law and Society


Admission requirements

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


Doing Socio-Legal Fieldwork Research: The Case of Justice in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Block 4 of the Law & Society Master, you learn about the different phases of socio-legal research (research design; collecting data; analysis of data; writing your results) and the different methods you can use for this in the Researching Law and Society course. Do you want to know how it works in practice? And experiment with different research methods, such as interviewing, photo elicitation, and (participant) observation? Are you interested in issues pertaining to justice in post-conflict societies? Then this course will offer you the opportunity to do actual fieldwork and explore the various meanings of justice by using different research methods. We will explore these themes during preparations in the Netherlands, followed by fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). If you want, you can use your research question and the data you collected in BiH for your master thesis.

In this course, we focus on armed conflicts that led to the worst massacres in Europe after World War II: the Bosnian war of 1992-1995. We specifically focus on the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995 during which more than 8000 Muslim men and boys were massacred, despite the presence of the UN Dutch battalion troops (Dutchbat) responsible for safeguarding the enclave Srebrenica. In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (established in 1993) determined that the Srebrenica massacres constituted genocide, and it prosecuted and passed judgement on these crimes. Do these judgements bring justice and rule of law? And, who decides this? International actors? You? A Bosnian war/genocide survivor? In this course, you will reflect on the meaning of justice and rule of law by analysing written and audio-visual materials, but also, and most importantly, by meeting with and interviewing Bosnian war and genocide survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina during a period of fieldwork of approximately 7 days.

For this course, you have to write a paper. But remember, the aim of your paper is not to provide a perfect answer to your research question but to critically reflect on the research process and how this, the fieldwork in particular, has influenced the way you were able to answer the research question.

Course objectives

The aims of the course are:

1—To enhance your socio-legal fieldwork skills, including project development skills (e.g. planning a short-term project; recruiting respondents; storage of data); research skills (e.g. different forms of interviewing, observation, photo elicitation, data analysis); and soft skills (e.g. how do you secure informed consent, how do you work with an interpreter?).
2—To enhance the skills to critically reflect on the research process. What went according to plan? What did not go according to plan? Why? What practical and ethical challenges did you encounter? How did that impact you? How did that impact your findings, and the ability to provide an answer to your research question?
3--To reflect critically on your own understandings of justice and rule of law, in general, and in the specific context of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
4--To compare your own visions of justice to those of survivors as well as civil society actors, humanitarian aid workers, legal professionals, and academic scholars working in the field of justice and rule of law in BiH. What does justice mean to you? What do they mean to a Bosnian war/genocide survivor?


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Interactive Lectures

  • Number of (3 hour) classes: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Nadia Sonneveld and guest speakers

  • Required preparation by students:
    --In the first half of each class we focus on topics, such as the history of BiH; accountability of perpetrators and peace-keepers; education and reconciliation; and missing persons. You are recommended to use the guiding questions on Brightspace to study the (written and audio-visual) preparation materials in a structured manner;
    --In the second half of each class we discuss your different fieldwork plans, and focus on different aspects of the research process, such as formulating a simple and concrete research question, constructing interview questions, approaching respondents, designing a data management plan, and making a realistic timetable.

Fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Duration: approximately 7 days, commencing after the last classes of block 5

  • Name of instructor: Nadia Sonneveld

  • The fieldwork will involve costs for the students. More information on this will be shared with the students before they have to choose their optional courses.

  • Required preparation by students:
    --Completed fieldwork plan;
    --Confirmed appointments with at least 1-2 respondents.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Completed fieldwork plan (20%); fieldwork in BiH (including digitialisation of fieldnotes and interview notes in the field) (30%); and a final paper (50%).

  • Partial grades can be compensated.

  • Students who fail the course can do a retake of the final paper, on condition they have participated in the other assessments.

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

Areas to be tested within the exam
The required readings and audio-visual materials for the course, the subjects taught in the classes, the fieldwork preparation and performance in the field, and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Submission procedures
To be announced.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Course materials will be posted on Brightspace.

  • If you’re keen to get started, the following book and documentary provide important ideas for our class to draw on: Sudetic, Chuck. 1998. Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia, and the BBC documentary series “The Death of Yugoslavia.”


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.  


  • Coordinator: Nadia Sonneveld

  • Contact information: Secretariat KOG (Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden), B1.14

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 6987

  • Email:


  • Institute: Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute

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

  • Opening hours: Monday till Friday

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

  • Email: