Programme Structure

EDLE presents a combination of course work and research. The curriculum is devised to provide advanced and challenging education both to lawyers and economists. Where applicable/possible candidates will be able to choose between basic and advanced courses depending on their educational background.

EDLE Empirical Track
Empirical research is becoming more and more prevalent in legal scholarship. Although theory is important in the economic analysis of law, some questions require an evidence-based approach that would test the theories. The aim of the EDLE Empirical Track is to provide the PhD researchers with the necessary tools to understand empirical studies, to develop a critical perspective on such methods and finally, to conduct their own empirical research. This track is designed both for lawyers and for economists. Lawyers without prior background in statistical analysis will attend introductory courses before continuing to empirical studies. Economists, even with background in statistics, will benefit from this track by learning how to apply those methods to legal questions.

Research Topics
The EDLE network counts on a large faculty able to offer supervision on a very large set of topics. Depending on the academic background, the thesis can be more economically or legally oriented. Some theses are rather theoretically focused, others more policy-oriented and some are empirical. Research topics may be proposed by the candidate or by the faculty. More detailed information on research topics of interest to the Partner Universities can be found here.
From the first day onwards the candidates start working on their thesis, based upon the research proposal on the basis of which they were admitted to the EDLE programme. The candidate is assigned a (provisional) supervisor who will help to identify (and in many cases narrow down) a suitable thesis topic.

EDLE Academic Calendar (full cycle of the programme)


Time Location Programme  
September 1st year Bologna Arrival in Bologna and preparatory courses on a voluntary base
Upon arrival   The candidate is assigned a (provisional) supervisor who will help to identify a suitable thesis topic
October – March 1st year Bologna Research + taught courses
By December at the latest   The candidate has decided the thesis topic and is assigned two supervisors.
November 1st year Bologna

Introduction meeting with partner universities &

Attending 3rd year seminar

March 1st year Bologna Presentation final research proposal that includes a clearly defined research issue, research question, chosen methodology and a literature survey
April – July 1st year Hamburg Research + EDLE Empirical course + Summer School
June / July 1st year Hamburg Presentation introduction chapter (introduction, problem definition, research question, limitations, methodology, scientific and societal relevance, preliminary bibliography) + summary of each planned content chapter
September – March 2nd year Rotterdam Research + EDLE Empirical course + academic writing course + EDLE seminars + topical seminars (publication strategy and presentation skills) + BACT and other relevant seminars
October / December 2nd year Rotterdam Presentation (new) content chapter
January / March 2nd year Rotterdam Presentation (new) content chapter
March 2nd year   Attending joint seminar (Maastricht/Rotterdam/Paris)
From April 2nd year onwards Home university Research + presentation of research results
November 3rd year Bologna Presentation (new) content chapter at 3rd year seminar
March 3rd year   Presentation (new) content chapter at joint seminar (Maastricht/Rotterdam/Paris)
From October 3rd year onwards Rotterdam Defending thesis in Rotterdam



In their first semester, students attend advanced courses in Law & Economics at the University of Bologna.  The mandatory curriculum includes the following courses: Statistics, Game Theory, Modelling Private Law, Experimental Economics, and Behavioural Law and Economics. Candidates can choose to attend additional courses such as Mathematics, Microeconomics, European Competition Law, Econometrics, and Financial Economics.
The curriculum will be focused on the individual student’s needs. The EDLEs can, on a voluntary basis, take all courses offered by the School of Economics.


Candidates also attend Law & Economics seminars held by international scholars.


In the second semester, students attend the Introduction to Empirical Methods course. Following that, the University of Hamburg Summer School in Law & Economics introduces students to leading international researchers during an intense three to six weeks lecture programme. In addition to an introductory course on the German Legal system, the doctoral students will have the opportunity to attend specialised advanced courses focusing on methodology as well as on specific topics of Law & Economics.


In the third semester, the students attend seminars at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam to refine the methods and contents of their PhD theses. The format of these seminars at the Rotterdam Institute of Law & Economics (RILE) includes two presentations by each candidate, written peer feedback, and a discussion by a senior staff member
Further courses in the EDLE Empirical Track are taught, such as Advanced Empirical Methods: Research Designs.


After one and a half years, candidates will move to their home universities, depending on their field of specialization. The remaining time in the programme is spent in close contact with the supervisors in Bologna, Hamburg, Haifa or Rotterdam.  In consultation with the supervisors it is also possible to spend a one or two semesters at Haifa University.

As mentioned above, on top of the coursework, candidates start working on their thesis from the inception.
The defence procedure can take up to approx. six months after completion of the draft manuscript. The general timetable is provided below.


 Thesis defence – general timetable


  Thesis final draft manuscript + propositions and mandatory annexes sent to supervisors for approval
8 weeks later Thesis final manuscript (approved by the promotors) sent to inner committee
6 weeks later Deliberation deadline inner committee
Time for finalizing the manuscript before it’s sent to the printer
5 weeks later Thesis to printer & plenary committee
After approval of the thesis and the plenary committee and by the registrar a date for the defence can be set by the promotors in consultation with the defendant and the plenary committee
5 weeks later Thesis book ready (sent to committee members, registrar, etc)
5 weeks later Defence date in Rotterdam



The EDLE is a joint doctorate programme with joint supervision and close monitoring. Participants are asked to send bi-annual updates to their supervisors on their progress, activities undertaken during the past six months and the planning for the next six months. Furthermore, the general planning of the individual PhD trajectory is checked (on feasibility) and adjusted where necessary. The document for reporting the individual research progress will be completed gradually during the PhD.


Monitoring – yearly general timetable


December PhD Progress report
January Supervisors report
February Evaluation individual progress EDLE board meeting
June PhD Progress report
August/September Supervisors report
November Evaluation individual progress EDLE board meeting & admittance to the next year
After termination of the scholarship:
December Annual general (short) report
January Update by supervisors


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