Universiteit Leiden

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Comparative Criminal Justice (MSc)

About the programme

Criminal Justice as a concept refers to the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. While the definition seems rather clear-cut, the practical reality is incredibly complex, with ever-changing demands on many different actors, including supra-national institutions and private companies.

International Focus

Students are encouraged to adopt a focus that extends beyond Western Europe and the US, as it is important to consider how well concepts ‘travel' like effectiveness, accountability and legitimacy. This will provide a holistic view of unique challenges in the light of different sociopolitical contexts. Students will gain insight into differences between countries in terms of legal frameworks, policy and law in action. There is also generous attention to the differential national impact of supranational institutions and law-making, including EU criminal law and human rights law.

For a detailed programme for Criminal Justice, see the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Theoretical and Practical

During the Comparative Criminal Justice Master’s programme at Leiden University, subjects offer both a theoretical and a practical insight into criminal justice. Empirical and legal research methods are used to inform teaching and students are encouraged to apply these methods in an original research project that culminates in the master thesis. Apart from the following lectures, you will also participate in visits to Dutch and international institutions such as a prison, Eurojust and the European Parliament.

Law in action

Topics that will be covered include the local and national effects of globalisation, the transformation of policing, the expectations of citizens about what is fair and how decisions are made at different stages of the criminal justice process. Each course will take a comparative approach and examine issues through different (legal and criminological) lenses. Students will also be taught comparative criminal justice research skills.

Contemporary challenges

Students will explore the social and legal dilemmas that political and legal institutions face while governing security, guaranteeing safety and handling (inter)national crises. While the course devotes attention to all traditional actors in the criminal justice process, it also considers how crime control is shaped by other (non-state) actors and outside the criminal justice process. Students will, for example, examine the legitimacy of private policing and private prisons, as well as the blurring of boundaries between crime control and migration control (‘crimmigration’).

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