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Research Design (IJ)


Admission requirements

No required courses, but Legal Methods Lab and Qualitative Research Methods are recommended.

Note: second-year IJ students are strongly recommended to take this course in preparation for the writing of their Capstone during Year 3.


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 and sources.

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 and sources would allow you to develop arguments in response to them? How would you collect the data and evaluate the sources? 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 taking this course and engaging with its content, students should be able:

To gain certain skills, in particular those of writing a proposal for a research project that could be carried out on a question in one of the fields covered by the IJ major. This includes the skills of:

  • formulating research questions,

  • finding and classifying existing research and other sources that are relevant for the research question(s),

  • relating the research question(s) to relevant theories and methods,

  • devising strategies for (i) gathering relevant data and/or sources, and (ii) identifying relevant cases to study; and

To gain knowledge, as manifested in the ability:

  • to explain the distinction between doctrinal and empirical research on law,

  • to discuss theories and concepts in research design, and the opportunities and limitations that come with different research design strategies,

  • to evaluate research designs critically.


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

Mode of instruction

The course will be interactive and allow for discussing how questions related to law and justice can be done research on, and for applying these ideas. Students will be expected to participate by raising questions and sharing remarks based on course material, during class meetings and on a discussion forum, and by writing an individual journal.

The core assignment is a research proposal, the aim of which is to flesh out ideas about how research could be conducted on a question having to do with law. The outline of this proposal will be due in Week 4. In Week 5 or 6, workshops will take place where each student will present their outline and get feedback from peers and the instructor. Each student will then be expected to further develop the research ideas including the methodology, and submit a final research proposal by the end of the course.

Assessment Method

  • Research proposal outline: 25%

  • Journal: 19%

  • Discussion forum: 16%

  • Research proposal: 40%

Reading list

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


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 Ingrid Samset, i.samset@luc.leidenuniv.nl
Dr Angela van der Berg, a.van.der.berg@luc.leidenuniv.nl