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The Rule of Man in the Rule of Law


Admission requirements

This course is open to students enrolled in the Master Law and Society.


Governance is often framed by rule of law. The rule of law however is an ambiguous term, with multiple definitions and usages. Additionally, rule of law and rule of man are intricately interwoven. While laws are made by lawmakers, it is civil servants who implement them vis-à-vis citizens. In applying the law, ‘street-level bureaucrats’ do not always treat similar cases in a similar manner.

This course shows how the ambiguity of legal rules, situations of legal pluralism (or the co-existence of multiple legal orders), and the allocation of discretion by lawmakers to bureaucrats allow for this kind of inequality to emerge. The course then explores the varied patterns of unequal treatment that arise and it considers explanations for this inequality. The course familiarizes students with explanations that operate at the level of institutions and individual decision-makers.

Case material will concentrate on different types of bureaucrats in different contexts, including social workers, court clerks and law enforcers –public and private. In addition, the course will address frames for explaining non-compliance with rules, shifting the lens to the perspective of the addressees of executive institutions.

The course combines more theoretical orientated lectures, on the contours and frames within which to consider the rule of man, with classes centering om specific case-studies. In the latter, guest lecturers are invited to offer an example from their research or practice.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

At the end of this course, student will be able to:

  • Distinguish the working of legal systems in practice, with regard to the principles of street-level application and enforcement of laws;

  • Evaluate institutional and organizational dynamics impacting the application and enforcement of laws;

  • Evaluate political and societal dynamics impacting the application and enforcement of laws;

  • Identify ‘rule of man in the rule of law’ issues in their own experience, information flows or cultural repertoire and analyze these issues with reference to the course materials;

  • Verbally and orally articulate an autonomous and substantiated opinion on the identified issues;

  • Participate in a role play consisting of a mock negotiation.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 4

  • Names of lecturers: dr. mr. Danielle Chevalier (FdR - VVI), dr. Nadine Raaphorst (FGGA) and guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: reading assigned literature, preparing reflection papers.


  • Number of (3 hour) seminars: 4

  • Names of instructors: dr. mr. Danielle Chevalier (FdR - VVI), dr. Nadine Raaphorst (FGGA)

  • Required preparation by students: reading assigned literature, preparing reflection papers and preparing a talking points exercise.

All students are required to attend and actively participate during lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Evaluation is based on two reflection papers (30%) and one essay (70%).

  • Students who fail the course, can do a retake of the reflection papers and/or the essay.

  • Grades remain valid for the academic year in which they were attained.

Areas to be tested within the exam

The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials


All information and reading materials will be distributed via Brightspace.


Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest students), look here (under the Law-tab) for more information on the registration procedure in your situation.


  • Coordinator: dr. mr. Danielle Chevalier

  • Work address: KOG (Steenschuur 25 Leiden), room B1.20

  • Telephone number: +31 71 5271039

  • Email:


  • Institute: The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society

  • Room number secretary: KOG (Steenschuur 25 Leiden), room B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday till Thursday and Friday morning

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 527 7260

  • Email: