JJUB55126U  Empirical Research Methods in Law - NOTE: THE COURSE IS CANCELLED IN THE AUTUMN SEMESTER 2018

Volume 2018/2019

The purpose of this course is to provide students with insight into the design and implementation of empirical research techniques. Due to what has been labelled an ‘empirical turn in legal scholarship,’ students and researchers within law are increasingly drawing on both quantitative and qualitative research methods in their research. In this wider context, empirical research methods, such as statistical inference and interviews, have played a pivotal role for new and emerging scholarship of a number of different legal fields. Therefore, it is crucial to enable students with the skills and competences to perform original studies that situate their research in current international scholarly currents and to address ongoing debates about the role of empirical work in legal science.

Moreover, law students and legal practitioners increasingly have to compete on a Danish market in which empirical methods have become increasingly prevalent, especially to communicate with the professions connected with the phenomenon of digitalization. In these regard, legal professionals must be able to recognize when empirical research its useful and needs to be applied in legal modern practice. For example, they are required to build evidence base that should be used to assist legislators in developing and ensuring well-founded public policies and to assist judges in the development of authoritative jurisprudence. Moreover, lawyers are increasingly required to review, understand, and employ empirical data in civil and criminal litigation, appellate practice, and governmental affairs. In the light of this developments in the profession, developing and analyzing evidence are critical skills to successful legal professionals (e.g. lawyers, judges, civil servants, etc.). As such, it is important to equip students with the necessary theoretical and practical tools in order to facilitate effective and coherent approaches to conducting empirical research.


The course is designed to provide the students the opportunity to work hands-on with their own BA thesis research question and how to plan and execute an original empirical based project on interview, survey and data analyses techniques. Students will receive feedback on their own research design and its implications. Moreover, the course will laid the basic theoretical foundations and offer the analytical tools the students and researches to participate in more advance methods courses at the MA and PhD level. As result, bachelor students will learn how to frame the theoretical foundation of their research project at the early stages of their BA studies, how to distinguish between methodologies, and how to identify and choose research methods relevant to their main subject(s) of research inquiry.


The course is divided into two parts; The first part introduces the students to the current debates on the use of empiric in legal research. It will also present the students the main concepts and definitions necessary for learning and discussion empirical legal methods, such as: dependent and independent variable, correlation and causation, complementarity and triangulation, etc. (sessions 1 and 2). These two sessions provide the students with the analytical tools to follow and develop discussions on legal methods. The second part of the course reviews and train the students on the most common empirical legal methods (sessions 2 to 9). Each method will comprise diverse sessions where the method is introduced and discussed. After that, the student will be trained on how to perform this specific technique at a basic level of research.

Learning Outcome

This course will contribute to the students’ competence profile in the following terms.


A) In terms of knowledge, the student will be able to recognize and critically evaluate the diversity of empirical research techniques (e.g. interviews, survyes, network analysis) and approaches for carrying legal research, their advantages and challenges.


B) Within this framework, the students in terms of skills will be able:

(1) To identify empirical methods and data approapriate to legal research;

(2) To collect and synthesize legal information and data and understand the ethical implication of data collection and analysis;

(3) To articulate and develop research design and protocols for legal research;

(4) To work independently at a basic level with different methods and collaborate with other peers in the development of these capabilities and skills in the framework of groups’ presentations and discussions.


C) Finally, based upon this knowledge and skills, the student will analyse, contrast and evaluate the advantages and difficulties of Empirical Legal Methods. As a result the student will be able:

(1) To critically reflect on the process of data collection and analysis;

(2) To present and write reseach findings in a systematic manner;

(3) To enable the student to carry out independent empirical legal research;

(4) To increase his/her analytical capacity to innovate and integrate data analysis into legal thinking;

(5) To improve students’ understanding of the relevance of empirical methods for understanding the law, affecting his/her ability to adapt and meet clients demands and to understand the necessities of the new players in the digitalization global network (e.g. lawyers, firms, policy-makers, civil society, etc.).

Proficient level in English
Knowledge and interest on legal methods and research writing is an advantage.
Students are expected to read the texts and participate actively in class. To improve the learning process, the course uses innovative pedagogical techniques for training on methods and techniques. The following instructional strategies combine theoretical discussion with training sessions, such as:
a) Methodological learning: The lecturer will train students in the application of these techniques in several methodological training session.
b) Evidence analysis exercises: The students will be asked to analyze diverse empirical evidence using the quantitative and qualitative instruments techniques learnt at the methodological sessions.
c) Research methods implementation with presentations and written papers: where the students reflect on the best method for investigating a specific legal object of study.
The course connects the students’ knowledge about legal methods and scientific writing learnt in other courses, by offering new insights and tools for improving their research design strategy. Specifically, the course deepens students’ knowledge on the research methods by offering new techniques for exploring facts and opinions. This knowledge complements and creates synergies with other methods courses offered in the Faculty at the BA and MA level (e.g. Seminarplan for Retsvidenskabelig forskning og skriftlig formidling, Retssystemet og juridisk metode). For example, in the case of the BA courses on ‘Retssystemet og juridisk metode’, the proposed course offers new methods for complementing the legal interpration masterd in that course.
In addition, the course will also improve the competences of our students for understanding and discuss in BA and MA courses with a strong research-based teaching demands and use of empirical materials as teaching materials (e.g. ‘Public International Law’, ‘Ret, Moral og Politik’, ‘International Dispute Resolution and International Courts’, ‘International Organizations’, ‘International Law and the Legalization of International Relations’, among others).
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Hand-in date: January 9, 2019


Hand-in date: February 13, 2019

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 69
  • Preparation
  • 343,5
  • Total
  • 412,5