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Criminal Justice Policy Evaluation


Admission requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the Criminal Justice master’s program (Crime and Criminal Justice).


This course addresses the ultimate goal in criminal justice policy strategies: crime reduction. But to what extent and why are strategies effective? Criminal Justice Policy Evaluation aims to provide an overview of the theory, methodology, practice and usage of program and policy evaluation. This course trains you in evaluating theories behind Criminal Justice policies and programs in order to make informed decisions on whether programs should be continued or not, and to provide information on how policies can be improved. During this course, various types of evaluation research are discussed: such as ex ante (or plan-) evaluation (what results may be expected based on program theory and design), process evaluation (is a program conducted in practice as it was intended in theory and design) and impact evaluation (is a program effective in reaching its aims, for whom, and under what circumstances?).
We discuss the difficulties in determining causality in impact evaluation by paying attention to the methodological standards developed by the Campbell Collaboration (also known as the The Scientific Maryland Scale). Furthermore, we address important criticism to these standards. In order to understand how to conduct theory-based evaluation research, we will immerse ourselves in the methodology proposed by the proponents of Realistic Evaluation. In addition, we discuss meta-analysis, systematic review and realist synthesis as instruments to determine the evidence-base of Criminal Justice policies. Furthermore, we scrutinize the relation between evaluation research and policies in order to analyze the potential role of evaluation research in evidence-based policy-making.

Course objectives

Upon completing this course, students will be able to

  • Distinguish between three main types of evaluation: ex ante (or plan), process and impact evaluation;

  • Assess in which circumstances it is best to apply each type;

  • Distinguish between meta-analysis, systematic reviews and realist synthesis

  • Assess in which circumstances it is best to apply each type;

  • Distinguish between the traditional experimental approach to evaluation and theory-based evaluation research;

  • Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each approach in their ability to answer different types of questions;

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

  • Compare the different options available for evaluation of a policy or intervention and to choose an optimal solution given the resources at hand;

  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation research options 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


  • 5


  • 4

  • All participants are required to attend and actively participate in lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written examination, open questions (70%)

  • Portfolio (individual) consisting of the four assignments (30%)

  • Active participation in lectures and seminars: If a student misses 1 or 2 sessions (lectures and or seminars), an extra assignment follows. Because the course contains a practical exercise, Ffailure to participate in 3 or more sessions (lectures and or seminars) implies you cannot complete the course successfully. Students turn in (four) weekly assignments: If you miss 1 assignment, an extra assignment follows. Missing 2 or more assignments implies that you cannot complete the course.

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

  • There will be a retake for both the written examination and the portfolio requirement.

  • Depending on the number of participants, the course coordinator can decide that the retake for the written examination mentioned above will be an oral retake. In that case, you will be notified in time.

Submission procedures

  • All assignments must be admitted via SafeAssign (Blackboard)


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Barton & Johns, N. (latest edition) The Policy-making Process in the Criminal Justice System, London: Routledge

  • A series of articles and chapters that will be distributed either through Blackboard or in a reader

Recommended course materials

  • Bachman, R. and Schutt, R.K. (latest edition) Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Los Angeles: Sage, or equivalent

  • Field, A. (latest edition) Discovering Statistics using SPSS. Los Angeles: Sage, or equivalent

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: A.Q. Bosma, MSc

  • Availability: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, through the secretariat.

  • Telephone: 071 – 527 74 62 (secretariat)

  • E-mail:

  • Consultation hour: If you have any questions or problems you can send an email to the course coordinator ( or you can come by during the consultation hour, the time and location of which will be announced through Blackboard at the start of the course. If you want to make use of this option, please send an email in advance to notify that you are coming. It is not possible to schedule an appointment at another time.


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminology

  • Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30

  • Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail: