Empirical Research Skills


Course Objective

Students have gained an overview of research methods for both
qualitative and quantitative empirical-legal research.

Course Content

This course is part of the Research Talent Track (see ‘additional
Through this course, students will gain an overview of research methods
for Empirical Legal Studies (ELS). The course covers the complete
empirical cycle, for both qualitative and quantitative studies; from the
formulation of research questions, to operationalisation, to research
design and data collection, to data analysis.
The first part of the course material covers research methodology up to
study design. The second part covers data analysis. As part of the
course, students will execute empirical-legal research in a group, and
individually write a report on this research.

Teaching Methods

This course will start in January from period 3 and will continue
through to period 4.
In January, four lectures and one seminar will be given. These lectures
will focus on the topic of research design. Towards the end we will
introduce the field work assignment.
In February, the students will carry out their field work and attend two
Five more lectures will follow in March, during which methods for
analysis will be discussed. The last seminar, in March, will focus on
the final individual assignment.

Method of Assessment

Assessment for this course is a combination of assessment types. The
theoretical content will be assessed through two multiple choice exams:
one in week 4 in January concerning the first part of the course
material (research design), and one in the last week of March about the
remaining course material.

Practical skills are assessed through the final assignment, in which
students present the analysis of their own empirical-legal research.
Field work for this assignment is mandatory.

The final grade therefore consists of three parts: the first mc-exam
(1/3), the second mc-exam (1/3), and the final assignment (1/3). All
grades account for one-third of the final grade.

This course is part of the Research Talent Track. For the assessment of
the whole Research Talent Track, please see ‘additional information’.


Catrien Bijleveld, Research methods for empirical legal studies. An
introduction, (will be published late 2019). Additional course material
may be posted on Canvas.

Target Audience

This course is a part of the selective Research Talent Track. This track
is aimed at talented Master-students that are interested in empirical
research. The RTT is open to students of the following programmes: Law,
Tax Law, Notary Law, Law and Politics of International Security, and
International Crimes and Criminology.

Selection for the Research Talent Track takes place during the autumn of
2019. Your application, including your CV, a recent grades-list and
motivation letter, must be sent via e-mail to
secretarisonderwijs.rechten@vu.nl before Friday November 15th 2019 at
noon. If applicable, please also indicate in your application which
major (‘afstudeerrichting’) you are following. You will then be invited
for an interview with the RTT-coordinator and the coordinator of your

If you have any questions, you can email the coordinators, Evelyne Groot
(e.f.groot@vu.nl) or Tanja Aalberts (t.e.aalberts@vu.nl).

Additional Information

The Research Talent Track is an extracurricular programme tailored for
motivated and talented students who want to further develop their
research skills and/or improve their position on the labour market.
You will learn and experience how academic research is executed. This
will help you in deciding whether a career in academia is something for
you. Our experience is that a Research Track broadens your labour market

The Research Talent Track (18 EC) consists of three courses: Empirical
Research Methods RTT (6 EC), Academic Research Skills RTT (6 EC) and a
portfolio-assignment (6 EC).

The Research Talent Track is an extracurricular programme. When all
components of the track have been completed successfully, the student
will receive a certificate and the Research Talent Track will be noted
on the master’s degree. This entails that the courses Empirical Research
Skills RTT (6 EC), Academic Research Skills RTT (6 EC) and the
portfolio-assignment have to be individually completed with at least a
6.0. Students will not receive a grade for the Research Talent Track as
a whole. The ECs cannot be used as elective credit in the regular Master

If international students apply for the Research Track, the courses will
be given in English.

General Information

Course Code R_EmpO
Credits 6 EC
Period P3+4
Course Level 600
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator prof. mr. A.J. Akkermans
Examiner prof. mr. A.J. Akkermans
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration