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European Human Rights Law


This course intends to give students a thorough knowledge and understanding of the European human rights system. Together with the course on International Human Rights Law it provides the foundation for the rest of the programme.
The course covers human rights protection mechanisms within the Council of Europe as well as human rights protection under European Union law. In respect of the former the European Convention on Human Rights plays a central role. In addition attention will be paid to the European Social Charter and other human rights instruments the Council of Europe has developed, such as the European Committee for the Protection against Torture (CPT) and the Commissioner for human rights. As far as human rights protection under European Union law is concerned, the development of EU involvement with human rights and the position of the Charter of Fundamental Rights will play a central role. Of course, this will include the relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights.


  • Students have gain a profound knowledge and understanding the main features of the ECHR and the functioning of the ECHR supervisory mechanism. They can articulate and explain the way in which the ECHR rights are interpreted and applied in practice. They can predict the outcome of designated cases by applying the existing doctrines of the ECtHR.

  • Students can compare and evaluate the role of the co-existing human rights protection mechanisms within the Council of Europe. They can deduce their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Students acquire a good knowledge of the role human rights play within the EU. They can articulate and explain how the protection and promotion of human rights affects the integration within the EU and the position of the EU Court of Justice in relation to the other institutions of the EU and its Member States.

  • Students are able to analyse and evaluate decisions of a human rights body and present comments on these decisions, comparing it with other decisions of the same body or other bodies.

  • Student are able to relate a situation that is presented to them to the appropriate European human rights standards and can analyse whether or not this situation is in compliance with European human rights law.

Mode of Instruction

  • Number of lectures/seminars: 18 lectures/seminars. Most seminars take 2 hours each, some are scheduled as double seminars.

  • Names of lecturers: Prof. R.A. Lawson, Mr. Theo Tsomidis LLM .

  • Required preparation by students: read the compulsory course materials; prepare questions and cases; prepare group presentations or interventions during a debate; find and analyse additional materials to prepare for such assignments.

Assessment method
Please note that due to public health considerations it may be necessary to adapt the method of examination. Any such changes will be announced well in advance.

  • Written exam Part I (50% of the final mark).

  • Written exam Part II (30% of the final mark).

  • Joint paper (20% of the final mark).

Reading list
*This course is mainly based on case-law. No textbooks are prescribed. All reading materials will be indicated on Brightspace and can be freely downloaded from the internet.


  • Course reader is made available before the course starts and can downloaded from Brightspace

Recommended course materials
Jacobs, White, Ovey, The European Convention on Human Rights (8th ed., OUP 2021). Relevant chapters should preferably be read in preparation for each class.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Mr. Theo Tsomidis LLM

  • Contact information: Leiden University, Faculty of Law, Institute of Public Law
    Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw, Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden, Room number C-118
    *Tel. +31 71 527 5054
    *email: t.m.tsomidis


Institute: Public law
Administration advanced masters: BIO
Mrs. Mahshid Alizadeh (LL.M.):

Disclaimer: This course description has been updated to the best of our knowledge at the current time of publishing. Due to the evolving nature of the Covid 19 pandemic and possible changes in lockdown regulations, however, all information contained within this course description is subject to change up to 1 September 2021. Since it is uncertain how the Covid 19 pandemic will develop after 1 September 2021, further changes to the course description may be unavoidable. However, these can only be made in the event of strict necessity and only in the circumstances where the interests of the students are not impinged. Should there be a need for any change during the duration of the course, this will be notified to all students in a timely manner and will not be to the prejudice of students. Modifications after 1 September 2021 may only be done with the approval of the Faculty Board.