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Research Design (International Justice)




Admissions requirements

Legal Methods Lab
At least two of the following three courses: Introduction to Socio-Legal Studies; Principles of Public International Law; Sovereignty and Statehood.


In the International Justice major at LUC, students learn about international law, human rights and society, and statehood and integration. Courses in these tracks introduce core concepts and theories, while often shedding less light on how the studies have reached their conclusions — and what difference it would have made for their findings had the authors, for example, phrased their question differently or drawn on other data.

If a student were to conduct your own research on a theme addressed in the IJ major, how would you do it? How would you identify gaps in the literature, and translate that into a good research question? What kinds of question could be addressed, and what data would allow you to develop arguments in response to them? How would you collect those data, and which ethical considerations might that imply?

This course introduces students to various strategies for research that are used in legal and socio-legal studies. The course provides hands-on training in research design for IJ students, so as to give you a solid foundation for your Capstone.

Course objectives

By completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Formulate research questions in their chosen field, relating these to relevant theories and methods;

  • Write a proposal for a research project that could be carried out on a question within one of the fields covered by the International Justice major.

By completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Discuss philosophy, theories and concepts in research design;

  • Explain the distinction between doctrinal and empirical legal research;

  • Identify strategies for collecting relevant data, and discuss opportunities and limitations that come with different such strategies;

  • Critically evaluate research designs.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The 14 two-hour seminars will be interactive and give opportunities to discuss how questions related to law, justice and rights can be done research on, and to apply these ideas. Students will be expected to participate by raising questions based on course material, discussing readings in plenary and smaller groups, taking part in a presentation, and by writing an individual journal.

For one of the journal posts, students will be expected go out of the College to observe an ongoing process that involves questions about law, justice and/or rights. Such a process or event may be, for example, an ongoing trial at the International Criminal Court, a street demonstration by activists who make claims about specific rights or justice, or a public debate about immigration policy. Students will be asked to reflect, in the journal post; about what you observed during that excursion and the kinds of questions what you observed might raise.

Students will further be expected to write a research proposal, the aim of which is to flesh out ideas about how research could be conducted on a relevant question. The first version of this proposal will be due in Week 3. In Week 5, classes will consist of workshops where each student will present their proposal and get feedback from peers and the lecturer. On this basis, an expanded and revised version of the proposal will be due in Week 6. Finally an essay, due in Week 8, will allow students to discuss questions related to objectivity vs. inter-subjectivity in legal and socio-legal studies, research ethics, and/or doctrinal vs. empirical legal research.


  • Group presentation: 15%

  • Journal (3 entries, one of which based on observations during excursion): 15%

  • Research proposal, version 1: 15%, version 2: 30%

  • Essay: 25%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The reading list will be available upon commencement of the course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ingrid Samset

Dr. M. Pichou