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Privatissimum: European and International Human Rights Law in Comparative Perspective


The Privatissimum is a short, intense, course. The aim of the course is to (further) develop a range of professional skills students need if they want to work in the field of human rights while at the same time deepening their comparative knowledge of the global and regional human rights systems.
In order to achieve these aims, students have to research specific elements of the various human rights systems explored in the first two courses of the advanced master European and International Human Rights Law that lend themselves for fruitful comparison. Differences and similarities, strong and weak aspects, and overlap and (potential) interaction between different human rights mechanisms are explored, keeping in mind the specific social, political and legal settings in which they operate.
Students are required to quickly acquaint themselves with a specific human rights issue and how it is dealt with under different human rights mechanisms, look for relevant materials on the topic and write and present short papers on their findings. As in real life professional situations, this has to be done under tight time constraints. Also, students have to work both in groups as well as individually. In addition, the final individual assignment will give them a taste of the type of research that is expected for the thesis.


  • students can conduct sound comparative research on different human rights systems

  • students can find relevant, academically sound information concerning human rights law issues

  • students can discuss and evaluate the working, overlap and (potential) interaction of different human rights mechanisms by delving into several concrete human rights issues from a comparative perspective

  • students develop their ability to write a clear, informative and well-structured, well-written paper covering their research findings

  • students can carry out research and present their findings by working both individually and in groups

  • students can cope with working under tight time constraints

  • students have gained a better grasp of the type of research that will be needed for the final thesis

Mode of instruction

In the first three sessions, the students address a different, topical human rights issues. They investigate how these issues are approached under the various global and regional human rights systems that have been explored in the previous courses. The teacher introduces the topic chosen for the session with the students. The students work in subgroups and each subgroup investigates how the topic is approached under different human rights mechanisms, assigned to them by the teacher.
To this end the students

  • search for and collect relevant information through internet and/or the library

  • discuss the results within their subgroup

  • write subgroup papers (and one small individual paper) with their main findings and send it around to the other students and to the teacher by the end of the week.
    At the next session, several of the papers are presented and discussed in a small-scale conference type seminar to explore in which ways the approaches differ or are similar, how this can be explained, which approaches seem to be most fruitful etcetera. In addition, students receive collective feed-back on their papers and how to improve them.

In the final session, the final, individual assignment will be handed out. This assignment requires students to write a more extensive individual paper in which they have to compare different human rights systems in relation to a particular topic.

Assessment method

Assessment method(s) and the weighting of each form of assessment towards the final grade

  • two group papers and one individual paper and presentations in conference type seminars: 3x 15% = 45%

  • one final individual paper: 55%

Reading list

Given the character of this course, there is no fixed reading list. Students have to search for and collect relevant information themselves as part of the learning goals.


  • Seminar reader with course information.

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.