Universiteit Leiden

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Legal Methodology

For the first lecture the students are asked to go and find an exemplary method paragraph in a PhD thesis that is available in the faculty library.

Training course


Students are also asked to prepare for the course by writing a method paragraph for a (fictional) legal research project for reference during the course. During the first lecture we will discuss these paragraphs in the context of a general discussion of the standard model of (natural and social) science and its methods and techniques. The main question that will be addressed in this course on Law & Science is: How does the regular, doctrinal method of legal research compare to the research methods in other disciplines?

In the first lecture on legal sources we discuss the quest for objectivity in legal research. In the second lecture we will discuss the standard model of scientific practice: the ‘empirical cycle’. We will inquire into the kind of research questions require empirical research methods and techniques. Most legal research is doctrinal research; in the third lecture we will examine how this practice compares to empirical research in the natural or social sciences. In lecture 4 we discuss methods of moral and political philosophy and in lecture 5 we inquire into the traditional method of the human sciences, both are also relevant for legal research. And so may so-called critical theory, which is popular both in the humanities and in the social and political sciences presently. In the last lecture we will discuss reflexivity as a peculiarity of both social and legal science in the context of the importance of scientific integrity.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of six or seven obligatory lectures and several assignments.


Information about the lectures on the method of legal research

Start date and Registration

The course will be given in the period April 3rd until May 15th from 13.00-15.00 hrs.
Registration for PhD-candidates is possible from December 15th by this form.

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