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ILS – Global law: legal reasoning in International, EU and national law


Please note: the digital learning environment of this course can be found in Brightspace. For enrolment information, click here.

Admission requirements

Admission to the Masters programme (see the Course and Examination Regulations). This course is only available for the Dutch students, not for the international students enrolled in both programmes.


This course considers aspects of the interaction between international, European Union, and domestic law. In examening these different areas of law, and the interaction between them, an emphasis is placed on legal reasoning. Legal reasoning is a basic legal skill, and there are important differences and similarities in legal reasoning across the different areas of international law, European law, and national law. This course also fulfils a practical need, as we know that students struggle in the beginning of the masters when dealing with often long and complex judgments from a different legal tradition than the one they are used to.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The course will contribute to the research skills of students via the weekly assignments and the final paper which will require them to formulate a research question on the topic of one of the weeks. In addition, the materials and topics will be presented in a research-oriented style, i.e. critically approaching and reflecting on different forms and uses of legal reasoning.
The course centres around the close reading of one seminal case of a different legal order each week. Judgments or advisory opinions are selected from, for example, the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.

Accross 5 lectures, students will first be informed about the context and the background surrounding a particular case, including the different challenges/tensions/interests/views involved, and therefore the choices and dilemma’s facing the judges. Subsequently, in the working groups, the judgment and its consequences will be discussed. Students will first look at the general structural features of the different case law (for example which sections are legally most relevant). Subsequently, students will close read the case, or part of the case, and discuss the different forms of legal reasoning used, also comparing it to the other weeks. Particular attention will be payed to alternative outcomes. One option for the research paper, for example, might be to suggest an alternative outcome based on different methods / applications of legal reasoning.

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

  • The student is able to illustrate the differences in legal reasoning from the national / international / European law perspective and the interaction between these three;

  • The student is able to formulate legal research question;

  • The student is able to write a good legal research plan;

  • The student is able to write good legal argumentation;

  • The student is able to form an opinion and/or choose a well-motivated position and express a point of view empowered by arguments;

  • The student has developed a self-reflective attitude towards his/her learning outcomes.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of instructors: Prof. Ramses Wessel

  • Required preparation by students: to be announced


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 5

  • Names of instructors: Prof. Ramses Wessel, Dr. Melanie Fink, and Dr. Emma Irving

  • Required preparation by students: readings to be announced via Brightspace. Each week there will be a short assignment that students must prepare before attending the working groups. These short assignments will require the students to develop research questions using a pre-determined format and build upon these questions throughout the course. Feedback on these assignments will be given every week during the class and/or via Turnitin (Brightspace).

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Practical assignment: completing the weekly assignments (see the required preparation for the seminars) and following the related feedback process is mandatory to participate in the written assignment.

  • Written assignment: 100% of the final grade.
    Students who received a fail mark are entitled to retake the written assignment. Admission to the retake is dependent on the student having submitted a first attempt of the written assignment by the original deadline.

If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, a pass for the practical assignment is no longer valid.

Submission procedures
Paper: via Turnitin on Brightspace

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 Brightspace. For enrolment information, click here.

Reading list

The digital sources of the obligatory literature will be posted on Brightspace. Student are expected to collect the literature themselves.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Dr. Emma Irving

  • Work address: Kamerlingh Onnes Building, Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden

  • Contact information: Room number C1.16

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 1390

  • E-mail: