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Digital Justice


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled for the specialisation ‘Cybersecurity Governance’, can take this course.


We are stating the obvious when we say that the digitalisation of many aspects of society has a profound impact on governance, on processes, and on decision-making. The area of justice being traditionally laid down in old laws, norms and paper files, is particularly affected. In fact, we could say that in the past years we have redefined – and still are redefining – the way that justice is delivered and is received. The course Digital Justice zooms in on the security-related effects of digitalisation on the two larger components of justice: the institutions of justice and the systems they use on the one hand and the content or the substantive aspects of justice on the other hand.

More specifically, during the course we will study the questions that arise from redefining the components of justice in a digital context and their effect on security, without losing sight of the appropriate and effective delivering and receiving of justice. We will use current cases and questions as well as lessons learned from the past in order to gain a better understanding of this complex area of interest.

Central to this course will be the research skill of analysis. With the purpose of gaining in depth understanding of digital justice, the questions that emerge from it and the consequences thereof, this course will train students how to analyse information from a diverse range of relevant sources including policy documents, judgments and scholarly findings. Acquiring the research skill of analysis means that you learn to identify what the precise problem is as well as the different aspects of it. You learn to identify and critically assess what the relevant data are that are essential for finding a solution. Finally, you learn to identify and assess possible different avenues for solutions. Acquiring and training this skill means that you learn to critically reflect on any information, gain perspective and distinguish essentials from details. In a society where technological and security-related developments emerge quickly and widely, the ability to properly analyse what you see, hear and read is a vital instrument.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyse in a timely manner new developments and phenomena in the digitalisation of law (including law-making and law enforcement), justice, human rights and the rule of law that create security-related issues.
  2. Understand, based on advanced knowledge, the body of literature/state of the art of studies in the field of law (including law-making and law enforcement), justice, human rights and the rule of law with regard to the security-related effects that digitalisation has on these fields.
  3. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge on the positive and negative questions that digitalisation produces for law (including law-making and law enforcement), justice, human rights and the rule of law.
  4. Understand, based on advanced knowledge, the principles of academic research related to digitalisation and its security-related effects on the institutional and substantive aspects of justice with awareness about the main designs and methodological approaches commonly used in cyber security governance.
  5. Identify and apply, based on advanced academic knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, relevant theoretical or analytical frameworks and methodologies to analyse real life (complex, multilevel, or so-called ‘wicked’) security-related problems and cases produced by the digitalisation of justice in a conceptually and methodologically rigorous manner.
  6. Reflect on relevant normative and ethical issues produced by the digitalisation of justice, and on side effects and unintended consequences of the governance and management of crisis and security issues, within the framework of democracy and the rule of law.
  7. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

A combination of interactive lectures and activating workgroups (two sessions per week). In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research, and the relevant concepts and methodologies. In the workgroups, students will practise research design and methods by applying the concepts, testing theories, and analysing empirical material. The workgroups will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several compulsory formative (non-graded) assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is not mandatory, but highly recommended in order to pass the course. Active participation during the sessions therefore is strongly recommended to pass this course.

Study load:
42 contact hours (lectures and spoc) and 238 hours of self-study and preparation of assessments.

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection paper as preparation for the final reflection paper. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Assessment method

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

  1. SPOC, Pass/Fail
    Passing the SPOC is required to pass the course

  2. Individual mid-term paper assignment, counts for 30% of the final grade
    Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  3. Group presentation, counts 20% of the final grade
    Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  4. Final paper, counts for 50% of the final grade.
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

Additional, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 50% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrolment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


dr. Els de Busser