Netherlands, Amsterdam

Empirical Legal Studies: An Introduction to Social Science Research Methods

when 8 July 2017 - 22 July 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

Empirical legal questions are increasingly pressing for society and academics alike. Covering the law in action, victims, governmental accountability, police investigation, reporting and so on, the study of these questions is at the core of a blossoming field of academic endeavour in the US. But until now Europe has lagged behind. Law students here generally receive little training in empirical methods, and most social scientists are unversed in law.

This course seeks to redress the imbalance by introducing students and scholars of law – in all branches – to the basics of social science research methodology. It covers all relevant material whilst assuming little or no prior knowledge of research methods or statistics. Topics include problem specification, the empirical research cycle, literature searches and analysis, hypothesis identification, research design at the micro, meso and macro levels, research ethics, sampling, measurement strategies, data analysis, statistics and reporting. We discuss the subject matter in an accessible format with a minimum of formulas. You also gain hands-on know-how and training by conducting your own field study

Your course leader, Catrien Bijleveld, holds degrees in Research Methods and Law. She is Professor of Research Methods in Criminology at VU Amsterdam. She also has a well-deserved reputation for translating complicated material into easily digestible language.

Course leader

Prof. Catrien Bijleveld

Target group

(Advanced) students of Law, Sociology, Criminology and Conflict Studies, and junior researchers in these fields.

Course aim

You will be able to formulate empirical research questions and hypotheses.
You will be able to distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research methods.
You will know how to choose a research design for a specific question.
You will be aware of research ethics with human subjects.
You will know how to draw a representative sample.
You will know how to choose a measurement method.
You will know how to design an interview plan and to conduct an interview.
You will know the basics of data analysis, including descriptive and inferential statistics.
You will be able to distinguish between the strengths and weaknesses of different types of samples, measurement methods and analysis techniques.
You will be able to present empirical research findings.

Credits info

45 contact hours

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes an airport pick-up service, welcome goodiebag, orientation programme, on-site support, 24/7 emergency assistance, and a transcript of records after completion of the course.

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


The Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition fee of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the website.

Register for this course
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