Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Honours College Law expansion: inclusive, personal, collaborative

The Honours College Law (HC Law) is soon going to look very different. What does the HC Law currently do, and what’s going to change? Why should you apply for it? To answer these questions, we spoke to Maartje van der Woude, Designated Professor at the HC Law. She’s designing the new programme in collaboration with her colleagues Claudia Bouteligier and Kirsten Penders.

A more in-depth programme

‘The HC Law gives students who are looking for more of a challenge opportunities to delve deeper into topics related to law and criminology,’ Maartje explains. ‘We do that in smaller groups than in the regular bachelor's programmes. Students have the chance to immerse themselves in the interdisciplinary topics we offer relating to law and criminology and develop both practical and personal skills. We also teach students social responsibility by helping them develop the communicative thinking skills they need in order to deal with the complex situations and issues that lawyers and criminologists face.’

A broader programme

The HC Law programme has had a reboot. Whereas the programme was initially seen and presented as an exclusive, select club, Maartje and her colleagues are now actually looking to design a broader, more inclusive programme. ‘Students still have to achieve an average grade of 7 or above in order to participate, but we will also look at their motivation to participate. We want students who are intrinsically motivated. This new approach to selecting students for the programme has shown us that HC Law students are becoming increasingly diverse. We consider that diversity extremely important within the Honours College Law, as it can only have a positive impact on the education we provide.’

Personal, collective development

In the new programme, Maartje and her colleagues focus more on personal development and community building. Examples include drama workshops and workshops on feedback, public speaking and producing podcasts. The workshops give students and teaching staff the opportunity to get to know each other and learn to work together. ‘'That collaborative aspect is very important to us as the Honours programme is taught in small groups and collaboration is therefore a key part of it,’ explains Maartje. It’s also why students no longer receive grades and a pass/fail system has been introduced instead. ‘The pass/fail system decreases the competition between students, who also learn to formulate their own ideas.’

Practical experience

The programme covers topics that are not – or are only minimally – covered in regular bachelor’s programmes.We offer modules on race, gender, intersectionality and law, legal psychology and law and rhetoric. Students can do internships at law firms, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service or in the business world. The 'Research assistant’ module also gives them research experience. The 'Trust in Institutions' module involves conducting field research, as students engage in discussions with debt relief workers, youth court judges and young people.’ Maartje says, ‘That link with legal practice and interdisciplinary education is a key aspect of the HC Law. We always connect the theory with legal practice and society as a whole.’

Student Joshua Wegman discusses the HC Law

Joshua Wegman is a student who has benefited from the HC Law programme. I really enjoyed it! he says. Thanks to the small class sizes, there was lots of time for group discussions. That was something I don’t get so much from my regular degree programme. I gained lots of knowledge and skills that’s very useful in my bachelor's degree as well.

Quite manageable

Joshua says that the HC Law aligns very well with the university's regular undergraduate programme. In each study block, there is usually just one extra study group per week. ‘I never had any problems meeting the HC Law deadlines or my bachelor’s deadlines as the exams for the two programmes were scheduled at different times. And so the workload for my HC Law modules was quite manageable.’

Community spirit

It was the community spirit and opportunity to work together that appealed most to Joshua. ‘It's a great opportunity to meet others who also want to get more from their degrees. Everyone has a different perspective on law and sharing those experiences is hugely valuable. When you’re admitted to the HC Law, you automatically become a member of Themis, the Legal Honours study association, which prepares you for a career after you've completed your studies. The association organises group visits to law firms and lectures, and it also runs lots of great social events.’

Interested in what the HC Law has to offer?

If you meet the requirements, you will be invited to an HC Law orientation session. This session will give you an idea of the content and time commitment that the programme requires. ‘It’s a good way to find out whether it’s for you. You can also speak to a Student Ambassador,’ Maartje says with enthusiasm. ‘I really want students to give themselves a healthy challenge and benefit from the challenge that the HC Law offers!

More information

For more information on the Honours College Law, please visit the Honours education page.

This website uses cookies.  More information.