Legal Research: Elements (5 ec)

This course is designed to facilitate the framing of a research proposal that might serve as starting point for a PhD-thesis.

Course Description

Legal research (including Criminology) takes place in an academic and social context. It is preceded by decisions and presuppositions. The decisions concern, among others, the type of research (descriptive, explicative, normative) and research methods (doctrinal, empirical). The presuppositions concern the pre-scientific assumptions regarding the alleged character and purpose(s) of the law and the research paradigms that are intimately connected with. Finally, the institutional context of legal research has constitutive effects on the research’s relevance, the relationship to other research, and the mode of presentation and type of publication (article in peer reviewed journal, book, annotation etc.). Scientific research demands that one is aware of the interplay between the type of research, the research methods, the pre-scientific assumptions and the institutional context of the research.

In this course, we will address topics such as:

  • the connection between subject matter, research question(s) and research objective(s) on the one hand and the research method(s) on the other;
  • the choice and handling of source material;
  • the analysis and interpretation of data;
  • the position of the research in the context of the research programme and/or other relevant research;
  • the (relative) validity and significance of the research.


Course Requirements

Students are expected to do the assigned reading and to attend all the class sessions. Prior to each class session each student should submit a paper of approximately 500 words to the course email list. Students have to develop a relevant and challenging research question and design a feasible research plan during the course, as well as to account for the meta-theoretical aspects of the proposed research and the intended research methods.

Last Modified: 12-02-2013