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Law and Culture


Please note that the following description of the course is only provisional and therefore subject to change.

Admission requirements

This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences, Public Administration, History, Arts. Non-Law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with some legal basics.


This course explores the relationship between law and culture – a topic that through globalisation, a perceived ‘clash of civilizations’, and the problems of an effectively multicultural society has become increasingly relevant. How should criminal law deal with the cultural background of those who have committed a crime? Is law itself a ‘codification’ of cultural norms and values, or can law be used to change culture? To what extent can law facilitate multiculturalism?
We will address such questions by combining legal with social science approaches. ‘Real life’ cases – taken from both western and developing countries – will be used throughout the course to clarify the theoretical issues raised.
Students are expected to prepare well and participate actively in the classes, which combine lecturing, discussions and assignments.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

  • to gain an understanding of different concepts of law and culture and how they relate;

  • to acquire knowledge of how modern legal systems deal with cultural issues and to understand what the pros and cons of various such approaches are;

  • to gain an understanding of the different ways in which law can influence society and the other way round.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
After having taken this course students will understand the main distinctions between legal and socio-scientific approaches to social problems and disputes. They will have become familiar with the answers to the question how law and culture are related one to the other. This will enable them to better understand and participate in debates about rule of law, human rights, cultural defence, both orally and in writing.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. Adriaan Bedner and others

  • Required preparation by students: readings


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 5

  • Names of instructors: Dr. Adriaan Bedner and others

  • Required preparation by students: readings and preparation for one group presentation

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam

  • Class participation, including one presentation

  • Two written assignments

Submission procedures
Will be announced on Blackboard

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide, the contents of the lectures and seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

Course information guide:

Reader will be made available via Blackboard

Recommended course materials:


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Dr. Adriaan Bedner

  • Work address: KOG, room B3.16

  • Contact informationby appointment via email

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 5277252

  • Email:


  • Institute: Meta Juridica

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute

  • Room number secretary: KOG, room B3.13

  • Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 16.00 h.

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 5277260

  • Email: