Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration


The Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration of the University of Lausanne has the unique feature in Switzerland of bringing together fields of study and research as varied as law, forensics, criminology and public administration.

This diversity is also reflected in the Faculty's research activities. The School of Law is developing an intense research activity in the main fields of law. The research carried out by the School of Criminal Justice is developed around strong scientific axes and through transdisciplinary work that integrates the criminal phenomenon as a common denominator. Finally, the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration conducts interdisciplinary, fundamental and applied research, which is valued both within the academic community and by public administration professionals.

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Faculty website (in french)

Research in Law

Research is mainly carried out within the School diverse researchcentres: the Centre for Private Law, the Centre forPublic Law, the Centre for Comparative, European andInternational Law and the Centre of Criminal Law.

The research carried out by the School distinguishes itselfdue to its scientific rigour, its originality and its openness:

  • to the world - by paying particular attention to foreign legislationand comparative, European and international law;
  • to the future - by investing in emerging themes, such as environmentallaw, information and communication law, etc;
  • to related fields - by reflecting on complex transversalquestions within the framework of interdisciplinary researchprojects.

The School’s dynamism in the field of research is exemplifiedby the number and quality of the doctoral theses presentedeach year, as well as the participation of its young researchersin various conferences and meetings and their collaborationin significant publications. The School strives to putits research at the service of legal practice and society as awhole. It also contributes to advanced training by organisingnumerous meetings and conferences as well as study daysand meetings for specialists.

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School website (in french)


Research in Criminology

The School of Criminal Justice (ESC) offers a multidisciplinary education par excellence. Research fuels this diversity with interests in criminal activity, its traces and definition, criminal behaviour and the consequences of crime, its investigation, law and procedure, its consequences in terms of security and prevention, demonstration of proof, and finally the consequences for the criminal, their punishment and rehabilitation. This multidisciplinarity is an integral part of the study of crime, together with its natural science and human science components.

Research follows 7 distinct themes:

Detection, reconstruction, association and evaluation, investigation, understanding crime, decision-making, and the development and validation of strategies:

1) Detection and recognition: aim to improve simultaneously the ability to detect the presence of latent traces and to recognise what best explains a presence or an action. They necessarily combine the development of new techniques and integration of the latter in a global approach to the field of investigation, the basis of which is yet to be consolidated.

2) Reconstruction: through reasoning that is essentially abductive at the outset, traces make it possible to imagine what happened. This attempt at reconstruction is generally part of a hypothetical-deductive approach involving the development and testing of scenarios. However it also entails a multitude of cognitive pitfalls which can be overcome by adopting a scientific approach.

3) Association and evaluation: the legal expert is responsible for evaluating and combining clues, or interpreting possible activities in the light of collected evidence. One dominant and cohesive movement advocates the use of probabilities (Bayes’ theorum) to carry out this evaluation, making it possible within a formal framework to express the uncertainties inherent in this type of question.

4) Investigation: The criminal investigation seeks to understand singular events, identify those involved, and outline their roles in accordance with a set of rules. Reasoning leads in two directions. Evidence gathered at the scene indicates what happened and helps to describe the relevant entities, or points directly to a series of individuals and objects. Conversely, reasoning often starts with groups of people, seeks to understand the relations between them and examines potential links with activities. The quantities of information that need to be managed and interpreted are sometimes large, requiring the construction of databases and the development of means to visualise complex information.

5) Understanding: Material traces are elementary units of information relating to an activity that takes place in an immediate physical and social environment, and are primarily concerned with security. Hypothetically, their use should therefore extend beyond the legal system, to the realm of information in general and the study of phenomena. It is here that forensic science and criminology come together to study security problems in the light of new information sets. The constitution of relevant databases is moreover a major feature of research in criminology.

6) Decisions: Those who work in the legal system take decisions at different levels. The distribution of roles and responsibilities follows procedures and forms of organisation which sometimes vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. Wrong choices can ultimately lead to judicial errors. Since decisions are made on the basis of uncertain and incomplete information, the risk of error must be evaluated within well-regulated formal frameworks.

7) Development and testing of strategies: Strategies used to prevent danger or fight crime are constantly being revised according to new knowledge, assessments of their effectiveness, and sensibilities and perceptions within particular contexts. For example, munitions issued to police officers or the trust that can be placed in biometric identity controls are the subject of heated arguments that systematic research can place on a more rational level. Similarly, in a context often fraught with emotion, research in the field of the police and justice offers the means to adapt systems, to evaluate their results and how they work, and also to reflect on their underlying purpose.

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School website (in french)


Research in Public Administration

Whether primary or applied, the research developed at IDHEAP is oriented towards innovation.

We cultivate an interdisciplinary approach. We take up this challenge thanks to solid disciplinary anchors coupled with a collaborative approach. This is why we often conduct our research with partners from Swiss or international universities. The themes addressed cover the major challenges and issues to which the public administration must answer:

Public Administration per se

  • The standards and the strategy which form the basis of the action of the public administration in the long term; and more specifically law, ethics, strategy, tactics, governance and leadership;
  • The organization and the processes which, in the short and medium term, play a capital role in the deployment of the strategy; and more specifically organizational techniques and specific processes such as human resource management, communication or finance;
  • The change management that underlies most of the actions and projects undertaken within the public administration, whether it involves changing the public administration itself, changing its environment or more fundamentally responding to society’s expectations regarding state interventions; and this through organizational learning, evaluation, innovation, digitization, or even project management.

The Environment of Public Administration

The environment in which the public administration operates and deploys its action is also a subject of research. This environment, this research object, covers both societal values (liberalism, democracy, responsibility) and expectations vis-à-vis the State (efficiency, redistribution, macroeconomic stabilization), but also stakeholders (citizen, political parties, NGOs, media, etc.) and political institutions (separation of powers, federalism, direct democracy, militia).

Public Policies

Finally, several public policies are among our research subjects. These include the sustainability policy, the training policy, the integration policy and even the social policy. In the study of these public policies, our research integrates the different dimensions of public administration and its environment, as mentioned above.

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Swiss Graduate School website

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Research in Law

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School of Law website (in french)



Research in Criminology

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School of Criminal Sciences website (in french)


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