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Protection of Human Rights in Europe


Admission requirements

Background in law and sufficient command of English. Preferably students are familiar with the basics of International Law and EU Law.


The main purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. 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 (ECHR) and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). We will also pay attention to the relationship between the ECHR and the EU. 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.

This course is intended for law students. Students from other backgrounds who take an interest in human rights are welcome to attend, but they should realise that the emphasis will be on legal questions and procedure rather than on philosophical or sociological aspects.

Objectives of the course
The course will provide an overview of human rights protection in Europe, by focusing on the background and the contents of the ECHR and the case law of the ECtHR. It will also explore the degree of integration achieved in human rights protection in Europe.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

At the end of this course, and on the basis of the assigned materials, students can:

  • explain the procedure before the ECtHR;

  • solve a fictional case concerning human rights issues addressed during this course;

  • answer an essay question reflecting on (elements of) the ECtHR case law and/or pertinent human rights issues in the Council of Europe, while showing critical thinking.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction

  • 5 lectures and 5 seminars (2 hours each)

  • Required preparation by students: Preparation of the assigned reading materials

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam, consisting of essay questions and problem questions

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

Submission procedures
Not applicable

Areas to be tested within the exam

  • Knowledge of ECHR protection mechanisms, knowledge and understanding of cases and procedures discussed and ability to critically assess evolutions and new cases.

  • The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (case law and 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
Case law and journal articles as assigned in the reader. Students are expected to collect all the course materials themselves (these should be easily accessible online).

Course information guide:
See reader.


  • The reader will contain all practical information

  • The reader is available on Blackboard

Recommended course materials
See the reader for an extensive list of recommended reading.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: Dr. J. Mačkić

  • Work address: KOG, room B2.29

  • Contact information: By appointment through e-mail

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7087

  • Email:


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Department: European Law

  • Room number secretary: KOG, B.1.21

  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 527 3596

  • Email:

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