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Introduction to Criminal Justice


Available in English only

Admission requirements

Students should be in their second or third year of legal studies or of other disciplines affiliated with social sciences.


Criminal Justice is a rapidly expanding field of academic study central to the research programme and mission of The Institute for Criminal Law & Criminology at Leiden University. The concept of Criminal Justice alludes to the system of principles, rules, practices and institutions through which the state administers sanctions against socially undesirable behavior. At the same time, the concept addresses the soundness of the relationship between that system and the social reality in which it is called to operate. Therewith, the content of Criminal Justice is intrinsically – and complexly – inter- and multidisciplinary, which in turn means that the study of Criminal Justice requires a convoluted approach. This LLC will provide an introduction into both the content and methodology of Criminal Justice, therewith deploying the concepts of legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness as important leading concepts. As such, this LLC is well-aligned with the Criminal Justice Master (MSc) offered by the Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology.

The orientation of the course will be comparative and ‘transnational’. This will allow for the development of not only insight into the themes which may be attached to Criminal Justice in the context of the national state, but also into the peculiar issues of the mobility of Criminal Justice problems and resolutions. I.e. why would a particular system or response to socially undesirable behavior ‘work’ in one country but not in another or on an international level? What determines the parameters of what is deemed to be socially undesirable behavior in a certain time or place? How can shared issues of Criminal Justice in the context of globalization – with a focus on ‘Europe’ – such as the phenomenon of ‘crimmigation’, be understood and resolved? Contemporary issues of Criminal Justice will feature as illustrations of theoretical and methodological difficulties. In that regard, taking advantage of ‘location’, the history, structure, and performance of the unique aspects of the Dutch Criminal Justice system will also be deployed in analytical and comparative exercises. This will include themes such as (de)criminalisation choices in law and policy (euthanasia, narcotics and prostitution), choices for procedural justice systems (common law vs. civil law), sanctioning, sentencing and correctional system strategies and the sustainability and workability of those choices, from legal and extra-legal perspectives. From a legal perspective, this LLC will further be oriented on not only criminal and criminal procedural law, but also the interface between this field of law and other fields of law involved in Criminal Justice, i.e. Human Rights and Constitutional Law, other forms of ordering and sanctioning systems (administrative and civil), as well as legal and political theory. The orientation of the course will further be ‘integral’, i.e. will look at the Criminal Justice system as a whole, addressing at the same time issues of legislation and policy from theoretical perspectives (such as the theme of emerging risk society and the culture of control), as well as issues of adjudication and execution.

The Course will consists of 5 lectures and 5 clinics. During the clinics, students will be asked to analyze a certain issue pertaining to ‘Criminal Justice’ and, in the time of the session, address that issue by designing a response which is adequate from the perspective of legitimacy, effectiveness and accountability. The aim is to develop competencies in recognizing legal and extra-legal issues and designing resolutions which are suited to a particular Criminal Justice system. In doing so, students will receive instruction in and utilize various types of legal and social scientific methodologies.

Course objectives

The aim of the LLC Introduction to Criminal Justice is to equip students with a sound understanding of Criminal Justice by providing an inter- and multidisciplinary programme addressing key institutions, processes and cross-national issues on crime (prevention), law and policy. A unique feature of the programme is its international comparative perspective, which involves an in-depth analysis of differences in Criminal Justice systems, legislation, and policies between various legal systems.

Achievement levels

The following achievement levels apply for this course:

  • Students will develop insight in themes and issues attached to Criminal Justice

  • Students will gain insight in relationships between legal structures and societal contexts in which they are to operate

  • Students will develop competencies in multi- and interdisciplinary scientific analysis

  • Students will develop competencies in developing and deploying suitable methodology in analyzing issues and successfully embedding responses and resolutions.


The timetable for this course will be made available at uSis.

Mode of Instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Prof. J.P. van der Leun, Dr. F.P. Ölçer, Dr. M.A.H. van der Woude

  • Required preparation by students: Students will read relevant articles in academic journals. Students must submit a short summary of the materials before the lecture, as well as formulate two questions which they will ask during the lecture about the material.


  • Number of (2 hour) clinics: 5

  • Names of instructors: Prof. J.P. van der Leun, Dr. F.P. Ölçer, Dr. M.A.H. van der Woude

  • Required preparation by students: Conducting research, designing resolutions and presenting findings in academic writing

Assessment Method

Examination form(s)

  • Written essay exam (90% of final grade)

  • Weekly assignments (10% of final grade): 1 full point of the final grade will be represented by the grade for the weekly assignments.

  • In the event that the number of participants so requires, the written essay exam may be replaced with an oral exam. Students will be informed of such a decision in a timely fashion.

Submission procedures
Via Blackboard

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature and case law) for the course, the course information guide and the content of the lectures and clinics.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials


  • Selected academic articles pertaining to the content and methodology of Criminal Justice, course book.

Course information guide:

  • Will be made available on Blackboard.


  • All reading materials will be placed on Blackboard.


Students must register for courses and exams through uSis.
Students enrolled at another Dutch university than Leiden may obtain access to uSis, by first submitting the form Inschrijven als bijvak/gaststudent (only available in Dutch).

Contact information

  • Coordinators: Prof. J.P. van der Leun, Dr. F.P. Ölçer, Dr. M.A.H. van der Woude

  • Work address: KOG, rooms C113, C115, C116.

  • Contact information: Secretariat of the Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, Ms. P. Noordeloos

  • Telephone number: 00 31 71 527 3506

  • Email:


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Room number secretary: C 1.02

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00


The language of this course is English.


Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.