Students who wish to take this course must be admitted to the Criminal Justice master’s program.
Criminal Justice as a concept refers to the organisation and practice of (formal) penal responses to crime. Whereas this “definition” seems rather clear-cut, huge differences exist between juridisctions depending on legal, cultural, political and cultural differences. In order to create a thorough and common understanding of the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the concept of criminal justice, this opening course of the master’s programme in Criminal Justice provides an overview of the systems of criminal justice currently operating in common law and civil law countries. Legitimacy, Accountability and Effectiveness are introduced as core components that both constitute and bind criminal justice and its actors and processes. These components will be scrutinized from the perspectives of both criminal law and criminology. Following this overview of the core concepts, contemporary issues and controversies in criminal justice are introduced. For the latter, a cross-national comparative focus is used to empirically examine issues on crime volumes, crime control, and public opinion on safety-related issues.
Furthermore, on a topic of your own choice, you are invited to write a research paper on a specific subject involving either legitimacy, accountability or effectiveness of criminal justice practices. Apart from literature analysis on this topic, the research paper also involves analysis of global comparative data. For this, you will have a large range of cross-national comparative datasets at your disposal from which you can choose relevant datasets on your own topic (e.g. International Crime Victims Survey, World Values Survey, Transparency International Index, et cetera).
This course is embedded in the Criminal Justice research program of the Institute for Criminal Law & Criminology.
Upon completing this course, students will be able to:
scientifically reflect on comparative issues regarding crime and criminal justice, including both their embeddedness in the broader social fabric (historical background, governmental styles) and measurement problems;
explain and apply the three core components of this course (accountability, effectiveness and legitimacy) and their interconnectedness;
explain and criticize the differences between common law and civil law system countries;
perform a literature analysis on a topic involving cross-national comparison of criminal justice issues on legitimacy, accountability, or effectiveness, and formulate a relevant research question on that topic
analyze cross-national comparative data on that topic (made available by the teacher), using descriptive techniques of analysis and, upon request, multivariate techniques to draw adequate conclusions from the results and write a coherent research paper.
Choose bachelor and master.
Mode of instruction
Number of lectures: 10
The first element of this course is a series of traditional lectures during which various lecturers, including guest lecturers, will reflect upon and discuss the assigned reading material. Students are required to prepare for these lectures by reading the assigned literature and preparing questions.
Number of seminars: 10
By means of weekly assignments that will be discussed during the seminars, you are challenged to reflect critically on comparative aspects of criminal justice systems.
Furthermore, several seminars will be utilized to discuss progress of the writing assignment and address possible problems that you experience with this.
Finally, some seminars will be devoted to the empirical analysis of quantitative comparative data on crime and criminal justice. Depending on prior skills in this area, seminars will either focus on basic, descriptive techniques, or advanced types of analysis.
All participants are required to attend and actively participate during lectures and seminars.
Other methods of instruction
Description: Office hours
For this course, the teachers will hold office hours once a week. If you wish to make an appointment for this, please do so by using this email address: email@example.com
Weekly group assignments
Final written examination
Course grades are determined by:
Writing assignment / research paper (individual) (50%)
Final examination, open questions (50%)
All assignments must be submitted via SafeAssign (Blackboard)
All components should be at least 5,5 in order to complete the course successfully.
For fulltime students, all grades hold for the present and the subsequent academic year.
There will be a re-examination for both components.
Depending on the number of participants, the course coordinator can decide that the retake of the final examination mentioned above will be an oral examination. In that case, you will be notified in time.
Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. 220.127.116.11 and further of the Course and Examination Regulations), on the condition that this course is included in the compulsory components of the degree programme. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course. Please contact the Student Administration Office (OIC) for more information.
Employability and (academic) carreer
The following skills that play a central role during this course are directly transferrable to the labor market:
The use of Blackboard is required.
Obligatory course materials
Book, to be selected.
A series of articles and chapters that will be distributed through Blackboard.
Recommended course materials
Bachman, R. and Schutt, R.K. (latest edition) Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Los Angeles: Sage, or equivalent.
Field, A. (latest edition) Discovering Statistics using SPSS. Los Angeles: Sage, or
Brace, N., Kemp, R. and Snelgar, R. (latest edition) SPSS for Psychologists. Houndmills: MacMillan Publishers
MacCormick, N (latest edition) Institutions of Law: An Essay in Legal Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis
Course co-ordinator: Dr. J.A. van Wilsem
Availability: Tuesday till Friday, through the secretariat
Telephone: 071 – 527 74 62
Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology
Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30
Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62