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 acquire a basic understanding of legal scholarship, 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 is required (IELTS 6.5 or higher).
This course explores the relationship between law and culture – a topic that has become increasingly relevant through globalisation, a perceived ‘clash of civilizations’, and the problems of an effectively multicultural society. How should criminal law deal with the cultural background of those who have committed a crime? Is law itself a ‘codification’ of cultural norms and values, or can law be used to change culture? To what extent can law facilitate multiculturalism?
We will address such questions by combining legal with social science approaches. ‘Real life’ cases – taken from both western and developing countries – will be used throughout the course to clarify the theoretical issues raised.
Students are expected to prepare well and participate actively in the classes, which combine lecturing, presentations, and discussions.
Objective(s) of the course
After having taken this course students will understand the main distinctions between legal and socio-scientific approaches to social problems and disputes. They will have become familiar with the answers to the question how law and culture are related one to the other. This will enable them to better understand and participate in debates about rule of law, human rights, and cultural defence, both orally and in writing
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
Student is able to give the anthropological definition of culture and explain critiques of the culture concept.
Student is able to give arguments for and against the different ways modern legal systems deal with cultural difference and can use examples to substantiate his/her argument.
Student is able to differentiate between different understandings of the relationship between law, culture and society and to draw on these understandings in his/her own work.
Student is able to differentiate between socio-legal approaches and other approaches to law, can apply the socio-legal lens and can distinguish between different theoretical approaches within the field of socio-legal studies (in particular with reference to culture)
Student is able to explain the concept of legal pluralism and to explain different conceptions of what law is.
Within the course topic, student is able to choose his/her own topic of interest, design a research question and scope of research and write a literature-based research paper
The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.
Mode of instruction
Number of (2 hour) lectures: 14
Name(s) of lecturer(s): Dr. Carolien Jacobs
Required preparation by students: readings
Written exam (50%)
Class participation, including one presentation and one reaction paper (10%)
2 written assignments (15% and 25%)
If the overall grade is lower the 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, the scores on the assignments and the exam are no longer valid.
Will be announced on Blackboard
Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide, the contents of the lectures and seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.
More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.
Obligatory course materials
Course information guide:
- Reader will be made available via Blackboard
Recommended course materials
Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
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.
Co-ordinator: mw. Dr.ir. C.I.M. Jacobs
Work address: KOG, room B3.18
Contact information: by appointment via email
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 5274698
Institute: Meta Juridica
Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute
Room number secretary: KOG, room B3.13
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 16.00 h.
Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 5277260