Universiteit Leiden

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Quantitative Empirical Research Methods in Law

This course is designed to address the most important empirical research methods to law students, in a manner that will be fully accessible to those with no prior quantitative training or background in the subjects covered. No prior familiarity with statistics or empirical techniques is required.

Target group
PhD candidate
Koen Caminada  (Interim Dean)
Training course


Scholars recognize the value of quantitative empirical analysis in understanding the legal system and its role in society. Compared with just a decade ago, researchers today can easily access original data sets. However, quantitative empirical studies cover a range of techniques which are usually not sharply defined.

Empirical research methods can be characterized by the collection of data and data-analyses on which a theory, hypotheses or conclusion is based. Several simple empirical tests are available to confront the best available data with theory. In view of these developments, a working knowledge of empirical research methods ought to be among the professional tools of a well-trained attorney. Empirical training will also provide a better understanding of the statistical tools that experts will employ. Also, given the prevalence of empirical methods in the social sciences, anyone considering a career in academic research or in public interest or in policy work will be well served by acquiring some basic quantitative skills.

The emphasis in the course will be on equipping practitioners to be critical consumers of empirical material that may be used in legal cases and controversies and in the formation and evaluation of legislation. Another purpose of this course is to equip students with knowledge of various empirical research methods they could employ in their own research project. The knowledge will be both theoretical and practical.

The course will introduce students to such topics as reliability, validity, research methodology, data gathering and analysis through descriptive statistics, the use of (multiple) regression, why samples need to be taken in particular ways, how to perform simulations or cross-country data analyses, and more. Students will fulfill the course requirements by writing a paper, by class participation, by presentation of their research to the class, and by completing several exercises.


Undergraduate level in Law. No prior familiarity with statistics or empirical techniques is required, however, it is recommended to complete an Introduction to Statistical Analysis prior to taking this course. This course is not open for students with knowledge and skills in empirical research methods. It is recommended that these students participate in an individual track Empirical Research Design. 

Contact Koen Caminada prior to first class meeting: ++31 71 527 7858 or e-mail.


  • Please register here.
  • Due to the short duration of the course and the high intensity, late entry is not permitted.
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