Methodology and Empirical Research


Course Objective

Learning objectives of the course:

(A) Subject-specific learning outcomes
Upon completion of the course, the student should have basic knowledge
- basic concepts of research and its methodologies
- several research methods and their corresponding strengths and
- several research designs
- probability and non-probability sampling procedures
- the process of measurement
- the ethical restrictions of empirical research

(B) Academic skills
Upon completion of the course, the student is able to:
- given a research question, make a motivated choice for a research
- given a research question, method and design, make a motivated choice
for a sampling procedure
- critically analyse research designs on strengths and limitations
- determine the quality of measurement in terms of validity and
- develop a questionnaire and critically analyse an existing
- conduct a small study
- enter collected data in SPSS

(C) Social and communicative skills
Upon completion of the course, the student is able to:
- interact with respondents to collect data for a small study

(D) Study skills and professional orientation
Upon completion of the course, the student is able to:
- work effectively in a group

Course Content

Are prison sentences effective? Do children of criminal parents have
greater chance of becoming criminals themselves? How do terrorist
attacks affect feelings of security?
Empirical research is required to answer these types of research
questions. In this course, the student is introduced to the basic
concepts of empirical research and its methodologies. The student will
learn all steps from the empirical cycle that are needed to answer a
research question or to understand what is done in existing research.
The student will learn different types of empirical research methods and
designs, as well as corresponding strengths and limitations in terms of
validity. For example, the student will learn what research design is
best suited to study the impact of new legislation and how to interpret
existing research on the effect of an intervention to predict crime.
Furthermore, the student will design a small survey study in which a
questionnaire will be developed and data will be collected.

Teaching Methods

Teaching on this course consists of lectures and interactive seminars.
Attendance of all interactive seminars is mandatory. Students who miss
more than one seminar are required to make an extra assignment to pass
the course.

Method of Assessment

Assessment for this course consists of two components:
1. Several assignments
2. Written exam


Ellis, L., Hartley, R.D., and Walsh, A. (2010). Research methods in
Criminal Justice and Criminology: An interdisciplinary approach. Rowman
& Littlefield Publishers.
This book is available as an e-book via the University Library of the
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

General Information

Course Code R_MER
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 100
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator dr. M.V. van Koppen
Examiner dr. M.V. van Koppen
Teaching Staff dr. M.V. van Koppen

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Seminar, Study Group, Lecture