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Theoretical Perspectives on Human Rights Law - Privatissimum


Admission requirements



In this course we will investigate and discuss fundamental developments in the theoretical foundations of international law and human rights law. The objective of the course is to engage students in a critical reflection at a theoretical level. The whole course relies on students’ own research. The research must be carried out within the theoretical framework that is provided. The background materials are not self-sufficient. Their only aim is to provide students with some preliminary information about the topic in which they must delve. Student must prepare the background materials for each class. Each week they must also submit a research paper. At the end of the course, students must submit a final paper.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The course has the following objectives: The objective of the course is to engage students in a critical reflection at a theoretical level on the system of human rights and international law and on fundamental developments in this area.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
After a successful completion of this course, the student has gained a thorough knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of fundamental developments in current international law and human rights law and a good picture of contemporary theoretical debates in legal scholarship and institutions.
Academic skills and attitute:
After a successful completion of this course, the student:

  • is able to write high quality papers on the theoretical aspects of complex legal issues;

  • is able to present and defend his findings, and to critically appraise the findings of other students;

  • is able to moderate a legal debate on particular issues.


The schedule will be made available at the start of the semester.

Mode of instruction

1 Introductory lecture in the first week.


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 4 (1 per week, starting from the second week of the course)

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. E de Brabandere

  • Required preparation by students: Students are required to submit a research paper for each seminar starting on the second week (4 research papers in total). Each week, students will be randomly picked up in class to present the outcome of their research as well as their critical assessment of the background reading. Each student will at least make one short presentation in the course of the 5 seminars, and is expected to actively participate in the seminar. Presentation and participation counts for 12.5% of the final grade.

    *The first research paper is not marked. It will be re-distributed among the students, and each student will thus be required to review the research paper of a fellow student, and to give comments to the author of that paper. The subsequent three research papers will be reviewed and marked by the lecturer in charge of that seminar. The marks for these research papers will each count for 12.5 % of the total mark of the course. See details in the section ‘Assessment method’. - Research papers must be submitted in class. As they constitute the groundwork for the discussion, papers not submitted in class will not be considered.

  • Attendance is mandatory. Missing one seminar is allowed for a valid reason ; missing two seminars – whatever the reason may be – means in principle that students are excluded from the course (there is no retake until next year’s course).

Other methods of instruction

Assessment method

Examination form(s)
3 research papers (37,5 ): each research paper thus has a weight of 12,5
Presentation and participation (12,5 %)
Final paper (50%)
There is no exam.

  • Research papers (4) to be handed in before each class (37,5 % of the grade). The research paper aims at pinpointing one aspect of the sub-theme that is raised for each class. It should indicate the reasons why the aspect chosen by the student is relevant and deserves examination. The general state of the literature of that aspect should also be appraised. The research paper must examine whether the existing literature correctly addresses the problems identified by the student. The research paper must not exceed 500 words (/- 1 page) and must contain a bibliography (/- 1 page).

  • The submission date of the final paper in hard copy will be announced in class and on Blackboard (50pc of the grade). The final paper must relate to one of the sub-themes that it will thoroughly examine. It boils down to a critical analysis of the sub-theme in question and requires appropriate research. It should not be longer than 2500 words including footnotes, and excluding bibliography.

Submission procedures
Will be announced in class and on Blackboard .

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.


More information on this course is offered in “Blackboard”:

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

Course information guide:

  • Outline as posted on Blackboard


Recommended course materials
To be announced on Blackboard


Registration on Blackboard.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Dr. E. De Brabandere

  • Work address: KOG, Office B1.26

  • Contact information: Appointments to be made via mail

  • Telephone number:

  • E-mail:


  • Institution: Public Law

  • Division: Public International Law

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, Office B1.21

  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071-5277578

  • E-mail:




Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.