Universiteit Leiden

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Law and Society (MSc)

Law and Society: Governance and Global Development (MSc) is a one-year master’s degree at the internationally renowned Leiden Law School of Leiden University. The programme brings together students from law and social sciences to examine the dynamic relationship between legal norms and social reality. Its global orientation, interdisciplinary approach, and focus on social justice make this master’s programme unique in its field.

Maartje van der Woude

Professor of Law & Society

Maartje van der Woude

"Is the law a useful tool for (social) change? That depends. In this unique master we will explore the functioning and the dysfunctioning of the law in the real world."

"The program thus closely combines and connects theory with practice and "real" case studies. An understanding about how rules are made, for whom, by whom and the messiness of the real world in which these rules need to be applied, is necessary to make founded criticisms of current arrangements and put forward alternatives for (social) change. Due to the small classes and extensive network of the Van Vollenhoven Institute, students will get to intensively engage with the teaching staff as well as with a broad range of practitioners also involved in the program."

Adriaan Bedner

Professor of Law and Society in Indonesia

Adriaan Bedner

"This programme offers exactly what all those who work with law need: a thorough understanding of how law interacts with society and what this means for justice."

Janine Ubink

Professor of Law, Governance and Development

Janine Ubink

"This master program moves beyond the conventional Global North and Global South dichotomy, and instead pursues a holistic global orientation."

"Issues of social justice and development are not confined to any particular geographical region, and careful analysis of case studies and theories from different regions leads to a comprehensive understanding of the functioning of law and its relationship to society, including context specific similarities and differences."  

Scope of Law and Society

Law and legal institutions play an important role in the organisation of society. They can be used to address and regulate social problems ranging from migration and terrorism to corruption, and from pollution and climate change to social and gender equality. But laws and institutions, and the way in which they operate in practice, can also preserve and deepen societal problems and lead to injustice.

In this programme, you will focus on the different ways in which laws and legal institutions affect society and, vice versa, how society influences the formation and functioning of law. Combining various fields of law and diverse methods, it will give you the necessary knowledge and tools to critically understand law’s role in addressing current social, political, and economic challenges.

International atmosphere

This programme provides you with in-depth academic knowledge and equips you with the professional skills needed in your (global) career. To achieve this, students are taught in small, seminar-style classes. Our programme attracts students from inside and outside the EU, which, combined with our diverse teaching staff makes for a truly international atmosphere.

More about admission and application

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