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Criminal Justice Policy Evaluation


Admission requirements

Students who want to attend this course, should have been admitted to the Masters Crime and Criminal Justice (Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving).


This course addresses the ultimate goal in justice policy strategies: crime reduction. But to what extent and why are strategies effective? Policy evaluation concerns the analysis, interpretation and communication of how crime-reduction programs are set up and why they work out the way they do. This course trains students in evaluating whether programs should be continued and how programs could be improved. We discuss various types of evaluation research: ex ante evaluation, process evaluation and impact evaluation. Ex ante evaluations are done prior to the implementation of the program and focus on the program’s theoretical basis: why would this program work and what, if any, unintended side-effects can be expected? Process evaluation focuses on the implementation stage: is the program implemented as planned (e.g. uniform treatment of subjects in the experimental group)? Impact evaluation focuses on the program’s effect: did it work out the way as planned, how large is the policy effect, does it offer value for money (cost-benefit analysis), and are there any unintended side-effects (e.g. crime displacement, offender stigmatization)?

We address the difficulties in determining causality in impact evaluation by paying close attention to the methodological standards developed by the Campbell Collaboration. In addition, we discuss meta-analysis and systematic reviews as instruments to determine the evidence-base of criminal justice policies.
Students familiarize themselves with evaluation research through literature study and by writing a research proposal for evaluation of a specified criminal justice policy program, and elaborating on their choices in a presentation

Course objectives

Upon completing this course, students will be able to…

  • Distinguish between and apply three main types of evaluation: ex ante, process and impact evaluation;

  • Advise on the steps needed to allow for sound evaluation;

  • Compare the different options available for ex-post evaluation of an intervention’s program impact and to choose an optimal solution given the resources at hand;

  • Use suitable statistical evaluation methods (in SPSS) to assess program impact in (quasi-)experimental studies and meta-analytical studies;

  • Write an individual research proposal for evaluation research pertaining to a criminal justice problem, to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the different research options they choose and to assess the quality of research design choices of other scholars.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction



Other methods of instruction
1x presentation rounds of research proposals

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Paper on research proposal for evaluation of a specified criminal justice program (70%)

  • Presentation of the proposal (30%)

Submission procedures
All assignments must be admitted via SafeAssign (Blackboard)

All components should be at least 5,5 in order to complete the course successfully. All grades only hold for the present academic year.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

C.H. Weiss – Evaluation (2nd edition).

Course information guide:
A series of articles and chapters that will be distributed either through Blackboard or in a reader

Contact information

  • Course: to be announced

  • Available: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, through the secretariat

  • Phone: 071-5277462

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminology

  • Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30

  • Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail:


Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO