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European Protection of Human Rights


Admission requirements

Admission to the Masters programme (European Law specialisation).


What are human rights, what is their scope, how are they balanced against public policy aims, by which means are they protected? Do we have common standards throughout Europe? In seeking an answer to these questions – and many others – we will focus on the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. We will also pay special attention to the relationship between the ECHR and the EU, and we will examine the degree to which an integrated system of human rights protection is emerging in Europe.
The course will commence with the ECHR. It is impossible to discuss all the details of the vast amount of Strasbourg case law. We have therefore selected a few ‘hot topics’ and some of the most important cases that have come before the Court. These leading cases will illustrate how the Court approaches human rights, what principles have been developed in its case-law, and what their impact on the legal order of the states can be. At the same time, the discussion of the cases will make you familiar with the procedure followed under the Convention. As the course progresses we will trace fundamental rights protection in the EU legal system, with a view to examining the position that the Convention has assumed in the EU as well as trends of divergence and convergence in the levels of protection provided. Selected cases from the Court of Justice of the EU will be read in parallel to Strasbourg case law in order to explore the relationship between the two legal orders. We will also discuss the process of accession and the implications (both institutional and substantive) that may results from this for both legal orders.
There are at least three specific reasons to address human rights in the context of the Master in European Law. Firstly, the significance of human rights – both for the legitimacy of public authority and for the day-to-day functioning of the legal order – has only increased since World War II. Secondly, the case-law of the Court in Strasbourg adds considerably to the process of European integration. Common standards are identified and reinforced, even if the Court is often prepared to take into account national values and traditions. Thirdly, the EU itself is paying ever more attention to fundamental rights and the Treaty of Lisbon prescribes the EU’s accession to the ECHR. In addition, the course fits in with other elements within the Masters programme, such as EU Institutional law and General Principles of EU Law.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The course “European Protection of Human Rights” has three aims. First it will explore the background and contents of the European Convention on Human Rights; second it will provide an overview of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights , and third, it will track the way in which the ECHR contributes to the process of European integration, thereby paying special attention to its relationship with the EU legal order and the envisaged EU accession to the ECHR.

Achievement levels
At the end of this course, students will have a good understanding of the nature and contents of the ECHR and the procedure before the ECtHR. In addition they will be familiar with a number of leading cases decided by the Strasbourg Court, as well as general principles of its case-law, and key ruling on fundamental rights by the Court of Justice of the EU. They will also have insights into the relationship between this and the EU legal order.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction

The course will extend over five weeks, with two classes per week. The first two classes will be of an introductory nature. Each of the remaining sessions will address individual rights protected by the ECHR (the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for private life and so on). The classes will be very interactive: the lecturer will discuss the assigned cases with students and will ask them to comment on cases which are handed out during class.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam
    Students who fail the exam are entitled to a re-sit examination. Depending on the number of students failing the exam, the re-sit may take the form of an oral or written exam.

Submission procedures
For all practical information see the reader and the Blackboard site.

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 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
Literature: None

Course information guide:
The reader (below) will contain all practical information, which will also be posted on the Blackboard site.

European Protection of Human Rights

Recommended course materials

  • Jacobs, White & Ovey: The European Convention on Human Rights, edition 5 (Oxford University Press 2010)

  • P. van Dijk a.o., Theory and practice of the European Convention (3rd ed., Intersentia, 2006);

  • D.J. Harris, M. O’Boyle & C. Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (2nd ed., Oxford, 2009).

For more references see the extensive reading list in the reader.


Via uSis

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Ms. Nelleke Koffeman LL.M

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25

  • Contact information: Room B 2.33

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 751

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Division: European Law

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, B 1.19

  • Opening hours: 9-17h

  • Telephone number secretariat: +31 (0)71 527 8837

  • E-mail:


Enrollment in uSis is compulsory for this class


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.