Law and Society (MSc)
The Master’s degree Law and Society offered by the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society at Leiden University, will provide you with the skills and knowledge that are necessary for a successful career in both the private and public sector.
Anupa Iman Ghosh (Canada)
"I thought it was a really interesting masters for bringing together diverse perspectives and the interplay of the two forces of law in society."
Why did you choose the master's in Law and Society?
When I was looking around for programs in Europe, I was really looking for something with an interdisciplinary focus, because my background is in Sociology and Gender Studies. I didn't really have any legal knowledge and I was looking for a way to be able to
gain that in a way that was also not a law degree. I thought it was a really interesting MSc. for bringing together diverse perspectives and the interplay of the two forces of law and society.
What was your background before you entered the masters?
I did a Bachelors with an Honors in Sociology and a minor in Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I think it is connected really well because it gave me a lot of the sociological foundations for what we talked about at the very beginning of the course. But there were a lot of gaps for sure, and it was really interesting to fill those gaps in the Master’s by learning about the structural force of law and legal systems.
Which courses do you think were most important to fill this gap you pointed out?
I can think of a couple of classes that come to mind right away. I think the most important thing I learned were about the alternative pathways towards justice, and the balanced and critical view of what the law can and cannot do, as well as the need to look beyond the formal legal system. Something that I became really interested in, which I worked on for my thesis, was looking at more effective ways to create structural and social change from a grassroots and local perspective.
Do you recommend this program and why?
I do recommend the program. I think that my experiences of it were very unique and that with my background in Sociology, I also got a chance to learn a lot. I was really looking to go into human rights and NGO-type work. So, then it really helped apply those new principles for me in a practical way.
What did you like most about studying the masters and studying in Leiden itself?
This Master’s is really unique in that it is both in The Hague and Leiden. In The Hague you’re in the political capital of the Netherlands, which is a really rich experience, and then being a part of the Law School in Leiden as well was a very valuable perspective. The interdisciplinary approach was also really unique. The Masters is also quite a small cohort, which is really great because that allowed us to critically engage each other, form a community and really support each other.
Where are you working right now?
During the second half of the Master's, I took on an internship at the Humanity Hub, which is a nonprofit that brings together NGOs, startups, other organizations working in peace and justice. Through there, I was able combine together my interest in working in this field with what I was studying. Now, I’m a Communications Officer at Impunity Watch, a victim-centered human rights NGO based in The Hague.
Camiel Raaijmakers (The Netherlands)
"You can give direction to the master in your courses and your papers. I had a strong interest in Asia, and I actually pursued those interests in my papers and exams."
Why did you choose the master’s in Law and Society?
During my first master’s I became interested in global perspectives on (human) rights. A master's of one year is a short period; I did not feel that I had adequately explored this newly found interest. In the Master’s Law & Society I understood I could further extend and deepen my experiences and that there was room for students to emulate own interests in this master's programme.
Would you recommend the master?
I would definitely recommend the Master. I found the Master’s quite some work in the beginning, with quite a few deadlines. But this might just be a good thing, as it sets you off for a good start of your working life.
What did you like most about the master's degree?
That the suspicion I had was also true - that you yourself can give direction to the master for your courses and your papers. I had a strong interest in Asia, and I actually pursued those interests in in my papers and exams. My fellow students had different (legal) interests, they were well enabled by this master to pursue their own interests.
Where do you work now, and how do you use your Master's for this?
I am a Rijkstrainee at the Government. I am not the only one of my year group, there are also two others who are also Rijkstrainees at different ministries. During the traineeship, you fill four positions at your designated ministry, including the possibility of secondment to another ministry.
Skills I have strengthened during this Master and that are definitely useful for my work are writing and analytical skills. The program also provides you the tools to expand your ideas on social reality and how that relates to legal norms. I am convinced that things in your work(life) are easier to understand when you are open to other perspectives.
Malou Beck (Germany)
"The most important takeaway from the Law and Society masters is definitely how to conduct socio-legal empirical research. The program puts a lot of emphasis on socio-legal research methods and on writing a good thesis."
Where are you working right now?
This Master's program manifested my passion for research, leading me to pursue a PhD at Tilburg University. I am now conducting socio-legal research on ‘Vulnerability in the Digital Administrative state’.
Why did you choose the masters in Law and Society?
A European Law course during my bachelor's first sparked my interest in law. When I then pursued a masters in Crisis and Security Management, I realized that when researching social or political issues, it is often beneficial to also apply a legal lens to it. This made me want to learn more about the rule of law and how legal tools work out in practice. Thus, I was looking for an interdisciplinary program in which I could acquire some legal knowledge without it being a pure law degree. When I came across the Law and Society program, I knew that it was the perfect fit for my interests.
What was your background before you entered the masters?
I have an interdisciplinary educational background, like many of us in the Law and Society cohort of 2021/2022. I hold a bachelor in European Studies (BA) from Maastricht University. Due to an internship during the 2019 Crisis in Chile, I decided to pursue a masters in Crisis and Security Management at Leiden University. However, as my interests in law and its practical implications on society remained, I chose to pursue a second master’s in Law and Society.
What was the most important thing that you learned in the masters?
The most important takeaway from the Law and Society masters is definitely how to conduct socio-legal empirical research. The program puts a lot of emphasis on socio-legal research methods and on writing a good thesis.
Do you recommend this programme and why?
I absolutely recommend the programme. The masters gave me a profound understanding of how the law works in practice, social and legal mobilization, legal pluralism, social justice, human rights, and lawmaking. Before starting the program, I was unaware that socio-legal research is so widely applicable. However, now I am convinced that we must begin exploring the socio-legal perspective on the big and small challenges of today’s complex world.
Additionally, I truly enjoyed that we were a small international cohort with about 30 students with different educational backgrounds. That meant that we were able to help each other out content-wise and contribute to topics with different perspectives. The class size also meant that we built great relationships with the teaching staff and felt like being a part of the Van Vollenhoven Institute.
The Master’s degree Law and Society was initiated in response to demands in the labour market: experts from the professional field expressed a need for students trained in an interdisciplinary, socio-legal approach to law, who possess an in-depth understanding of the formation and functioning of law. The Master’s degree Law and Society will offer you skills that are applicable to a wide range of different careers across government, civil society, and the private sector. These include experience with empirical research, policy analysis, proposal writing, regulatory analysis, and report writing.
Students that have left the program have pursued careers in:
- Intergovernmental organisations;
- Governmental positions such as Rijkstrainee;
- Non-governmental organisations in the Netherlands and abroad;
- National and European Union civil services;
- Lobby and consultancy firms;
- Small, medium and large-size firms.
Some students have also gone on to pursue PhDs in the Netherlands and abroad. See our student profiles to learn more about various careers our graduates have pursued.