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Thesis Master of Law


Separate rules and guidelines per specialization concerning deadlines, introductory lectures, etc. are posted on the Brightspace environment for the respective specializations.

Admission prerequisites

Students with a minimum of 20 EC or three completed courses in their master’s program, can start their master’s thesis, i.e. are entitled to supervision by a lecturer.


The master’s thesis is the final assignment in the master’s program. You will perform, mostly independently, scientific research on a legal subject. You will show that you are capable – with supervision – to identify and sufficiently isolate and delineate a legal issue or problem, formulate a thesis question, critically interpret and analyze, and come to a well motived response and/or solution, substantiated by a legally and academically sound use of carefully selected sources, including legislation, jurisprudence, and literature. Knowledge, theory, insight and skills all need to be methodologically applied and expressed through a critical and well supported opinion in a clear scientific discourse of 10000 to 15000 words (including notes and references).

Learning goals master’s thesis

Upon completion of the master’s thesis, students should have gained the following qualifications:

Knowledge and insight:

  • The student has a thorough command of the legal issue he/she researched for his/her thesis and the legal (sub)field(s) this issue is situated in.

Applying knowledge and insight:

  • The student is able to formulate a relevant research question with the aid of knowledge gained from legislation, literature, jurisprudence and other sources and to structurally separate this question into well-formulated, and properly delineated sub-questions that jointly allow the main research question to be answered.

  • The student is able to create a suitable analytical framework for his/her research question, including where required a proper framework or benchmark to substantiate any conclusions reached or claims made.

  • The student is able to independently collect and select the relevant information and sources (including legislation, literature, jurisprudence, if applicable other materials like policy documents, research reports etc.) necessary to answer his/her thesis question(s).

  • The student is able to understand relevant legal sources and the academic literature discussing them (legislation, literature, jurisprudence), to thoroughly, critically and in a structured and focused manner analyze them, and to apply them to answering his/her thesis question(s).

Forming judgment:

  • The student is able to assess the worth and impact of scientific legal literature on the legal issue he/she researched for his/her thesis.

  • The student is able to judge and weigh the various facts and opinions formulated in the selected and analyzed materials, also understanding the relation between formal legal sources, academia, and other, non-expert forms of opinion.

  • The student is able to formulate a well-argued answer to his/her thesis question(s), and is able to do so on the basis of an independent, mature and where necessary creative-constructive reasoning supported by the relevant sources and interpretation methods allowed in the legal relevant legal field(s).

  • The student is able to formulate well-founded conclusions based on the results of his/her research and to present these in a broader (legal) spectrum. Based on this analysis, the student is able to draw broader conclusions from any specific legal conclusions reached, ideally linking these to societal challenges as well.

  • The student is able to distinguish legal questions and claims from empirical claims and statements, and, where empirical claims are made, refer to correct empirical sources and methods to support any empirical claims made.


  • The student is able to present his thesis as a clear, readable and structured discourse, which fulfils all requirements of scientific legal research.


Your thesis has to be submitted digitally. The digital version will be checked for plagiarism with designated software. Many thesis supervisors will appreciate a printed copy as well. You can find the full submission procedure on the Brightspace environment.


The master’s thesis is generally largely written in the second semester of the program (and in the first semester of the academic year for students who have started in February). In some specializations however, students will receive an introductory lecture on the thesis or will be asked to make a planning and thesis outline in the first semester. In any case it is advisable to start as soon as possible – during the first semester of the program – with your orientation on the master’s thesis, to prevent any possible study delay.


Two examinators will evaluate the master’s thesis independently.

More information on the master’s thesis

You can find more information on what is expected from you, as well as on what you might expect from your supervisor, in the thesis manual 2023-2024 (link follows asap). Additionally, most specializations have separate thesis guidelines and/or a dedicated Brightspace environment, please check the website and Brightspace environment of your specific specialization.

Additionally, there are some rules on the master’s thesis included in the 'Onderwijs- en examenregeling' (OER, see the relevant articles), as well as in the 'Regels & Richtlijnen Tentamens en Examens' (R&R, see the relevant articles).