Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


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Legal Methods Lab


Admission requirements


  • Completion of at least one of the 100-level courses of the International Justice Major.


When reading any contract, statute, treaty, or other legal document, it becomes evident that lawyers, judges, and legal scholars have a unique way of writing and making arguments marked by a particular style and framed by a range of specific conventions. With a view to familiarizing students with legal methods, this course focuses on legal research, reasoning, writing, and contestation.

As the name ‘lab’ indicates this course is really about learning skills. Each week will be dedicated to developing a specific skill. Students will learn to locate, select, and properly cite legal sources in accordance with the most widely used styles. They will further learn how to write a literature review appropriate to legal scholarship; how to formulate legal arguments; how to read and assess cases and how to plead like a lawyer.

The different assignments correspond to the different skills to be learned in the framework of this “lab”. They will be carried out individually as well as in small groups and will allow students to learn the basics for legal research as well as to grasp the subtilties of both written and oral legal argumentation.

Course Objectives


  • Conduct legal research, including the location, selection, and classification of primary and secondary sources;

  • Properly cite and format legal sources, both secondary and primary;

  • Interpret, compare, and analyze legal sources;

  • Present, defend, and comment on legal arguments.

  • Write a literature review and a case note


  • Define core legal concepts and terms;

  • Use legal sources and formulate well-written legal arguments supported by appropriate sources.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each week will be dedicated to a specific theme.

Week 1: Exploration of legal sources and referencing
Week 2: Writing a literature review
Week 3: Legal argumentation
Week 4: The assessment of case-law and pointers for writing a case note
Week 5: Tips and tricks for becoming a good pleader
Week 6-7: Moot courts

During the first session of the week the specific theme will be outlined. This theme will then be further discussed during the second session of the week, including through practical exercises. The two big written exercises (the literature review and the case note) will both be preceded by the submission of an outline/draft in order to allow for maximum feedback before the handing in of the final version. The last two weeks are reserved for the moot court sessions.

Assessment Method

  • General participation, ongoing (10%)

  • Literature review (individual), including outline week 3 and full note week 5 (35%)

  • Mini-moot court (in small groups), weeks 6-7 (15%)

  • Case note (individual), including outline week 6 and full note week 8 (40%)

Reading list

Students have to acquire the following book for this course:

  • M. Snel and J. De Moraes, Doing a systematic literature review in legal scholarship (Eleven International Publishing, 2019).

The following book is highly recommended:

  • Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner, Making your case: The Art of Persuading Judges, 1st Edition (Thomson West, 2008)

Links to other compulsory readings will be provided on Brightspace.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Hanne Cuyckens, h.cuyckens@luc.leidenuniv.nl


For the course as offered in block 2, the exact way in which it will be organized will depend on the covid19 restrictions but ideally it would take at least some kind of hybrid form allowing for the discussion sessions as well as the moot court exercise to be run in class in smaller groups where possible.