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Legal Methods Lab


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Completion of at least one of the 100-level courses of the International Justice (IJ) Major.


When reading any judgment, 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 oral advocacy.

As the name ‘lab’ indicates this course is really about learning skills. Seminars will be dedicated to developing a specific skill or skills. Students will learn to locate, select, and properly cite legal sources in accordance with the most widely used styles. Furthermore, they will learn how to write a literature review containing primary legal sources as well as legal scholarship; how to formulate legal arguments; how to read and assess cases and how to design arguments 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 subtleties of both written and oral legal advocacy.

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 legal literature review and a case note using both primary and secondary sources.


  • Understand core legal concepts and terms;

  • Understand how to use primary and secondary legal sources to formulate well-written and oral legal arguments.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each seminar will focus on a specific theme and is aimed at developing particular skill though lectures and several interactive exercises (individual and in small groups), including moot court exercises.

The course will explore the following themes:

  • Legal sources and referencing

  • Writing a legal literature review

  • Legal argumentation

  • The assessment of case-law

  • Preparation and design of oral arguments (in the moot court exercise)

Assessment Method

  • General participation (10%)

  • Legal literature review (individual), (31%)

  • Moot court (in small groups) (19% each)

  • Case Note (40%)

The written exercises (the legal literature review and the Case Note) will be preceded by the submission of an ungraded outline/draft in order to allow for detailed feedback before the handing in of the final version.

Reading list

Students must 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).

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,


Dr. Dan Saxon, (Block 1, Block 3)
Dr. Joris Larik, (Block 4)


Note that it is strongly recommend that all students majoring in IJ take Legal Methods Lab as it offers foundational skills for the major.