Organization and examination rules

 International Master´s in the Sociology of Law

The IISL’s International Master’s in Sociology of Law consists of 2 components. Firstly, students attend intensive courses from generally the last week of September until last week of March (the exact dates for each course of the year you will be teaching in will be sent to you in a different document). Each course consists of 20 two hour-long sessions and lasts for 2 weeks.

The following guidelines provide information concerning the organization and actual teaching of the coursework component of the programme. Included in this document is also our travel reimbursement and honorarium policy. There are separate guidelines for Master theses supervisors and examiners, concerning the supervision of the thesis research and the grading of the thesis. There is also a more complete guideline for how to operate the IISL Zoom and Moodle (or equivalent) platforms, which we will also attach to our cover letter to you.


Please fill in important details concerning the title of your course, your academic affiliation, etc. via this link, if you have not already done so:  

Course Content

The IISL Master’s programme in the Sociology of Law aims to introduce students to the main themes of contemporary socio-legal / law & society studies. We welcome material relating to your own research. However, your course should also provide a general coverage of the topic. It is also important to include different perspectives, approaches, and debates which have had an important influence on the topic, even if you are critical of them.

Please also try to bear in mind what other courses may be covering. Once you have been officially selected as a member of the faculty, you will be given access to our Moodle or an equivalent platform in use by the institute, where you can find the detailed version of our course programme and the respective materials, so that your course does not overlap too much with those of other teachers.

Our students come from a wide range of geographical, cultural, academic, and professional backgrounds, and we ask that you bear in mind this experiential and disciplinary diversity when selecting material and preparing the didactics of your course. Many students are likely to have a first degree in law, but may have little knowledge of social science, while some may have studied little or no law, but have more grounding in social science.

Please, consider making use of the opportunity to turn one half of one of your sessions in the second week of your course into a public lecture, attended by students and advertised by the IISL to members of the IISL scholarly and professional network. While enabling the IISL to make its educational program available to a wider public, it also provides you with an opportunity to develop your thoughts through feedback, and to showcase your work.

One week before the beginning of the programme, there will be an online “meet & greet” event for faculty members and students, facilitated by the IISL through its Zoom platform. Each professor is expected to give a 3’ presentation of the respective course, and students will give a 1` presentation each of their background and interests.

Ethical Standards

Please, also bear in mind that the IISL is strongly committed to respect for and the protection of gender, religious, and cultural diversity. Any incident of inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour will be followed up by the IISL leadership, who will inform local authorities at their discretion. 

Please, fully commit to the Code of Ethics of the International Sociological Association ( in your teaching.

You will also find other relevant sources on ethical standards on the web which you might want to integrate into your course material at some point (see e.g., “Ethics on the Web – A Brief Guide to Resources” website by the Association of Social Anthropologists in the UK (

Students’ workload

Students are expected to complete 75 hours of work for each course. Courses usually run for 2 weeks, with teaching normally involving a 2 hour-long daily seminar, totalling for each course either 20 hours of face-to-face student participation in a presential format, or the same amount of student participation in live streaming classes in the case of an online format. In addition, teachers may schedule individual tutorials with students, in order to discuss students’ assignments and / or give advice for the development of students’ thesis proposals from the perspective of their expertise. The remaining 50-55 hours should be divided between reading and preparing for class (about 40 hours, or 4 hours per day), and coursework assignments (10-15 hours).

Reading assignments for each session should not exceed 40-45 pages (e.g., a chapter of a book, one long article, or two shorter ones)! The required readings shall be made available to both faculty and students on Moodle or an equivalent platform in use by the institute. Course teachers may also recommend additional readings. Students are not expected to have read these non-compulsory readings; however, these readings may be useful to students when they want to expand their knowledge on certain topics, or when they prepare for discussing certain topics in an assignment. Non-compulsory readings are also made available on Moodle or an equivalent platform used by the institute.

Further assignments may include oral presentations, short written responses to readings, preparation of individual questions for plenary discussions, preparation of an individual part in a debate or roleplay, etc. Please, feel free to get inspiration from course designs of colleagues available in Moodle or an equivalent platform used by the institute.

At the end of each course, students are supposed to submit an essay of 4.000 to 5,000 words to the respective section in Moodle or an equivalent platform in use by the institute on a subject agreed upon by the teacher of that course (see also further down below). The deadline for submitting these essays is always 23:00 (11:00 pm) o’clock of the Saturday following the conclusion of the respective course.

Thesis Research Colloquium

Parallel to the individual courses taught by visiting faculty members, the Scientific Director offers a weekly one hour-long thesis research colloquium, which provides students with the opportunity to reflect on research design and methodology, and to actively develop an inquiry for their thesis research. The colloquium is designed as a supplement to the individual courses and ends with the last course in March. By the time, students are expected to have written a thesis proposal. It will be assessed and graded by the Scientific Director. Individual supervisors will be selected by the Scientific Director in consultation with each student.

Finally, students must submit a 15,000[1] word-long research thesis by 31st of July at 23:00 (11:00 pm) o’clock to the respective section in Moodle platform or an equivalent platform used by the institute.

 [1]  In exceptional cases, depending whether they need to get their Master’s degree recognized by their home universities that require a longer word size, Master students may be allowed to write longer theses.

Moodle or Equivalent Platform Used by the Institute

The IISL provides teachers and students access to all teaching materials via the learning platform Moodle or an equivalent platform in use by the institute. This will allow you to directly up- and download materials. We will of course tutor you how you can operate the platform (email All material you are going to use in your course should be available by the end of July.

Teaching Language and Formats

Teaching is done in English. Students will have a proficiency in English, but this can vary. In exceptional cases a professor may agree to accept a written assignment in another language. Such cases need to be discussed with the Scientific Director in advance.

Under the condition of the COVID pandemic, we follow the advice of the University of the Basque Country, where our Master programme is accredited, and put in place a dual format that consists of an integration of presential, or onsite, and online teaching. The dual teaching format also consists of 20 hours of seminars for each course, held every day from Monday to Friday. Sessions are generally scheduled from 13:30 to 15.45 CET. We recommend all teachers to comply with this time, as this enables our students across all time zones to attend the life streaming of the courses. If you are in Oñati, the seminar room is equipped with a laptop and projector, as well as a whiteboard and flip-chart, and other equipment may be available if needed. The e-teaching platform used for dual teaching is Zoom. In order for teachers and students not having to share their screens all the time, which constitutes a further hurdle to interaction in this blended format, we advise all teachers to submit the necessary material for each class to Moodle or an equivalent platform used by the institute before each session, and to use the chat function for interaction during class. All sessions of course will be recorded and will be uploaded to Microsoft Stream, so that each new recording will be available the following morning for both students and teachers.

In case of having to teach in the dual or blended format, combining presential and online teaching, as well as in cases, when faculty teaches solely online from abroad, each professor is requested to commit to one or two trial sessions two weeks before the start of the respective course. In addition, we will provide you with a manual how to operate the Zoom platform the latest two months before the beginning of the whole Master’s programme.

Evaluation of Your Teaching

Students will submit evaluation forms at the end of your course, and some suggestions for teachers from previous years include:

  • Required readings should be discussed in class so that students can understand how the reading links to the topic;
  • Class discussions should be managed in such a way that they are not by the most eloquent students. A suggested method is to include questions on the reading lists and assign specific students the day before to prepare answers. In this way, students not so fluent in English can prepare their interventions in class and thus gain confidence;
  • Use of PowerPoint slides is especially appreciated by students from non-English back­grounds. Students also appreciate the slides being made available prior to class.

Teachers are expected to be available for students. We ask that you set aside 1 hour per day from Monday to Friday for student consultation. Consultation can happen in person, i.e., on-site, when both the student and the teacher are in Oñati. Should one or both only be available online, then consultation can be arranged through the IISL Zoom account.

Student Assessment


The final deadline for assessments is, as was already mentioned above, 23:00 (11:00 pm) o’clock on the Saturday following the end of the course. Extensions can only be given in exceptional circumstances and must be agreed with the Scientific Director. The deadline allows students to start each course afresh, which is essential considering the intensive nature of the programme.


Coursework submission is done exclusively via Moodle or an equivalent platform used by the institute. Each professor can download the essays from there and is expected to finalise the grading within two weeks following the end of the course. Each professor is requested to upload the graded student essays with the teacher’s comments to Moodle or an equivalent platform used by the institute.

Types of assessment

There is no set template for assessment, and instead assessment should be appropriate to each individual course. Class participation must make up at least 10% of the total grade. Examples of some previous assessments include:

  • Class participation (10%), oral presentation (30%), essay of 2,500 words (60%);
  • Class participation (10%), learning diary consisting of notes on readings and class discus­sions (2000 words, 45%), essay of 2,000 words (45%);
  • Class participation (10%), group exercise, with all members of a group given the same grade (45%), essay of 2,000 words (45%);
  • Class participation (10%), oral presentation (25%), exam given on the last day of the course (65%);
  • Class participation (10%), essay of 4000 words (90%).

Teachers must clearly specify their assessment scheme in the course outline presented to the students in the first session of the course. It cannot then be changed during the course.

Grading of students’ essays

Grading the essays should be completed two weeks after the end of your course (as to the grading scheme for assessing students’ essays and their whole course performance, see also further down below). After grading the students’ essays, please upload them to Moodle. The students are asked to submit their essays in two formats: pdf and docx. You can either use the track changes for the docx files or the functions for editing in the pdf format to correct the students’ essays and insert your comments.

Please, note that your comments are vital for the students to improve their performance and understand your grading criteria! In order to support you in this important part of your teaching, the IISL provides you with grading sheets for oral and written performance.

Non-Attendance and Lateness

Students are expected to attend the seminars and other sessions, submit coursework and participate in all courses. Students are expected to attend classes on time, and course teachers are entitled to impose a penalty for persistent late attendance. This regulation also applies to the dual teaching format, that is, online participation. Any absence for any reason must be explained to the course teacher or the Scientific Director and the Master’s coordinator, preferably in advance (e.g., by email). A course teacher can penalise any student who fails to attend or participate in a course, including giving a Fail grade.


Occasionally, students do commit plagiarism consciously or carelessly. In order to prevent pla­giarism committed because of insufficient training in academic writing, IISL Publication Officer Leire Kortabarria offers an extra-curricular class on “Methodology: Academic and Technical Writing” at the beginning of each IISL Master programme.

We cannot prevent rare occasions of plagiarism voluntarily committed, though. It is the responsi­bility of each IISL Faculty member to discourage and detect plagiarism. We recommend the use of anti-plagiarism software. Gratuitous software is available, for instance, at:

If there is clear evidence that a student has committed plagiarism, the assignment (essay or Master thesis) becomes invalid. The student has the right, though, to once more submit a new assignment. That is to say, the respective student has the right to submit a newly written essay or Master thesis for the second time. The deadline for this second call will be determined by the teacher in con­sultation with the Scientific Director, and on the basis of the regulations of the University of the Basque Country, where the IISL International Master’s is accredited.

Publication Opportunities for Students

In the interest of neutrality, please do not invite students to participate in any publication project of yours. Excellent essays should be recommended for publication in the journal Sortuz, published by the IISL (please contact Leire Kortabarria at:

Informal Online Meeting of All Faculty and Students Two Weeks Prior to the Start of the Programme

We request you to participate in an online meeting of all faculty and students prior to the beginning of the programme. This meeting shall be facilitated through the IISL Zoom platform. It will provide both faculty and students with the opportunity to exchange about mutual expectations and backgrounds.

We also offer a one-on-one meeting with the Scientific Director and the Administrative Programme Coordination Officer for each professor prior to the start of the programme. The meeting is designed to provide professors with the opportunity to pose detailed questions concerning course design, and – should the dual teaching format still apply – have personal trials in ZOOM (or equivalent platforms provided by the IISL), in order to feel more secure in navigating their course.

Grading of Courses and Master´s Theses

The mark awarded to each student for a course, as well as the thesis, should be a numerical grade out of 10. This corresponds to a 4-band scale (apart from Fail). As an international Institute, we need to ensure comparability of grades with systems used in various different countries. To en­sure this, we apply the European Credit Transfer System´s methodology for grade comparability, explained in the Guidelines issued by the European Commission in 2009.

This requires each institution to analyse the grades awarded over a number of years (minimum of 2), according to the 4 bands suggested by the ECTS: top 10% (A), next 25% (B), next 30% (C), next 25% (D). On the basis of our analysis in 2009 of 18 years of examination of theses, and the previous years of coursework, the 4 bands which have been used in the Institute do correspond, broadly speaking, to this distribution.

IISL Grading Scheme and ECTS Equivalence




ECTS equivalent


Excellent, outstanding,
of publishable quality

Matrícula de honor

A top 10%


Very Good, only minor limitations or errors


B next 25%


Good, above average standard, some limitations or errors


C next 30%


Satisfactory, generally sound, a number of limitations or errors


D next 25%


Inadequate research, significant limitations and errors




Examiners are asked to award grades bearing in mind the normal distribution. This means that when deciding which grade to award, you should ask yourself where, in your experience of this type of a one-year Master´s, you would place this particular piece of coursework or thesis. Thus, it is irrelevant whether in your own system you would never award even the best student a mark of 100%, you should give a mark between 9.6 and 10 to a piece of work which you rate in the top 10% for this type of work. Similarly, even if in your system a D (or a mark below 6/10) would normally be considered a Fail, you should award a 5 or 5.5 for a piece of work or a thesis which you rate as a Pass but in the bottom range. Normally, grades should be a whole or half integer (i.e., 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; or 5.5, 6.5 etc), unless there is a very good reason for a more subtle variation (e.g., 6.8).

For more information: 

Master Coordination Team

IISL Master Coordination Team
Avenida de la Universidad, 8
Apartado 28
20560 Oñati (Gipuzkoa) - Spain
T.: +34 943 78... Ver teléfono