Amsterdam, Netherlands

Crime in Numbers: From Correlation to Causation

when 28 July 2018 - 11 August 2018
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1000

Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for causal inference. Using an experimental and a control group, double-blind and with a placebo, the effect of an intervention can be neatly determined. But this ideal scenario is not always practicable, or even ethically desirable. What if we want to know how effective sex-offender treatments are? Or whether employment makes people happier? In such cases, special methods have to be used to be able to make causal statements.

This course details five such methods: propensity score matching, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity design, fixed effects methods and trajectory analysis. After a brief refresher on regression models, you analyse a real-life dataset to assess whether various “remedies” (therapy, employment, marriage, punitive sanctions) are effective in reducing criminal recidivism. The techniques are explained in a conceptual manner, and the course provides you with numerous hands-on exercises using SPSS and Stata. You also practise reporting on the findings from such analyses, in scientific article format, as well as in conference-type presentation.

This course is taught by experienced lecturers from the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and VU Amsterdam

Course leader

Dr Steve van de Weijer

Target group

Students and professionals in the field of Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Education, Political Science, Policing and Conflict Studies. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Course aim

At the end of this course, you will be able to:
•Choose an appropriate technique for causal analysis of observational data.
•Use SPSS and Stata to analyse that data.
•Determine the effect of an intervention.
•Summarize the findings for an academic journal.
•Present research findings.

Credits info

3 EC
Contact Hours: 45
If you want to earn more credits you can take courses in our other sessions to create a 4 or 6 week programme.

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes:
• Airport pick-up service
• Welcome goodie bag
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• Emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply and pay 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.

There are also discounts for students who attend multiple sessions, combine 2 courses and receive a €200 discount and combine 3 to receive a €300 discount. 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 VU Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition and housing fees of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

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