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Qualitative Empirical Research Methods in Law | Introductory Course for PPP-students

This introductory course aims to provide PPP-students with an understanding of the purpose and appropriate use of the major qualitative research methods. It will help participants to identify research methods that are suitable for their concrete research questions.

Judith van Uden  (PhD Candidate) Joanne van der Leun  (Professor of Criminology) Katrien Klep  (Assistant Professor) Janine Ubink  (Interim Vice-Dean Research / Professor of Law, Governance and Development) Danielle Chevalier  (Assistant Professor)
Training course

Although qualitative research methods are often identified with the social sciences more generally than with the discipline of law in particular, also lawyers and legal scholars do make use of qualitative research methods. Examples of this type of research are studies that examine people's perception of law and justice, the interactions between different courts, effects of gender, or legal aid and access to justice. This introductory course will discuss different qualitative methods. It aims to provide PhD-candidates with an understanding of the purpose and appropriate use of the major qualitative research methods, and to equip researchers with the skills to decide whether their research topic requires the use of qualitative research methods, to select the most appropriate research methods and to know how to report on them.

Mode of instruction

The full course consists of six lectures. The course starts on Monday 13 March and lasts until Monday 17 April. A total of 84 hours (3 ECTS) will be recorded if you chose to participate in the lectures. In all instances, you are expected to actively participate in class and fulfil the assignments. The lectures only take place physically in class.

See complete schedule.

Course objectives

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Develop a solid research design that suits the research question at hand;
  • Distinguish between qualitative interviewing, focus groups, discourse analysis and case study research;
  • Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each qualitative research strategy in its ability to answer different types of questions;
  • Assess in which circumstances it is best to apply different qualitative research strategies;
  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses of different qualitative research options and to assess the quality of research design choices of other scholars;
  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses of different tools for qualitative analysis and to assess in which circumstances it is best to use each tool;
  • Write a methodology section and to reflect on methodological choices in a PhD thesis.

Compulsory literature

You can find the compulsory literature in the syllabus.


All assignments are to be handed in through brightspace.


Please register via email.


Presence in class is mandatory. If you are unable to attend one of the lectures, please send an email beforehand.

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