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Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, Effectiveness, Accountability


Entry Requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the master’s programme in Criminal Justice.

Brief course description

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. Whereas this “definition” seems rather clear-cut, depending on an individual’s culture, nationality and disciplinary background, the definition will be explained differently and, accordingly, there will be different areas of emphasis and theoretical underpinnings.

In order to create a thorough and common understanding of the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the concept of criminal justice, this opening course of the master’s programme in Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, accountability, effectiveness aims to provide an introduction to and overview of the systems of criminal justice currently operated in common law and civil law countries. The core components that both constitute and bind criminal justice and its actors and processes despite continental boundaries – legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness – are introduced and explained as important leading components, before students are introduced to contemporary issues and controversies in criminal justice.

Beginning with an overview of law in society, the lectures will be structured following the chronology of the criminal justice policy cycle. During the lectures, emphasis will be placed upon contemporary challenges in the definition of laws and policies, the enforcement of law, (strategies of) policing, judicial systems, sentencing strategies, correctional practices, and emerging forms of justice. While the focus will be on practices in the Netherlands, the course also looks at other cultures and their criminal justice systems, although this comparative element will be further elaborated upon in the other courses of the curriculum.

Learning objectives

  • Students are familiar with the fundamental theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of criminal justice

  • Students can explain and problematise the three core components of criminal justice and their interconnectedness

  • Students gain a broad knowledge of the central and contemporary themes and challenges in criminal justice
    Students are able to view criminal justice from a interdisciplinary perspective


Kies voor bachelor en master.


10 Lectures:
The first element of this course is a series of traditional lectures during which various lecturers, including guest lecturers, will reflect upon and discuss the assigned reading material. Students are required to prepare for these lectures by reading the assigned literature and preparing questions.

10 Seminars
By means of weekly assignments that will be discussed during the seminars, students are challenged to reflect critically on comparative aspects of criminal justice systems.
The seminars demand that students develop a critical orientation to the material in the course beyond the required readings.

Examination & grading requirements

  • Attend and actively participate in mandatory weekly lectures – Weekly group assignments* – Final written examination

Course grades are determined by:
Weekly assignments and class participation (30%)
Final examination (70%)

  • All assignments must be submitted via safe assign (Blackboard)


Bij dit vak wordt gebruik gemaakt van Blackboard.

Reading requirements

  1. F.J. Pakes (2010) Comparative Criminal Justice 2nd edition, Devon: Willan Publishing
    1. M. Maguire, R. Morgan, R. Reiner (eds.) (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 5th edition, Oxford: OUP
    2. A series of articles and chapters that will be distributed either through Blackboard or in a reader


Students can enroll for this course via uSis:




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.