Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

Protection of Human Rights in Europe


Please note that the following description of the course is only provisional and therefore subject to change.

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 initially 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 on the relationship between the ECHR and the EU. Given that the envisaged EU accession to the ECHR is to constitute a major step in the development of human rights protection in Europe, 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. In the second part of the course we will trace fundamental rights protection in the EU legal system, with a view to examine the position that the Convention has assumed in the EU as well as trends of divergence and convergence in the levels of protection provided. We will also discuss the process of accession and the implications (both institutional and substantive) that may results from this for both legal orders.

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.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

The course will provide an overview of human rights protection in Europe, by focusing on the one hand on background and contents of the ECHR, and on the other hand on fundamental rights protection in the EU legal order. 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, students will have a good understanding of the nature, selected contents, and procedure before the ECHR; they will also be acquainted with the basics of fundamental rights protection in the EU .

  • Students will also become familiar with leading cases from both legal orders.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: None

  • Names of lecturers:

  • Required preparation by students:

Seminars- Number of (2 hour) seminars: 10

  • Names of instructors: Vasiliki Kosta, LL.M.; Nelleke Koffeman, LL.M.

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

Other methods of instruction

  • Description: None

  • Number of (2 hour) instructions:

  • Names of instructors:

  • Required preparation by students:

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam

If only a few students fail the exam at the first attempt, the resit may be an oral exam. In that case, students will be informed by the coordinator 10 days ahead of the scheduled re-sit date.

Submission procedures
Not applicable

Areas to be tested within the exam

  • Knowledge of ECHR and EU 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 (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

  • P. van Dijk & G.J.H. van Hoof, Theory and practice of the European Convention (Intersentia, 2006)

  • R.C.A. White & C. Ovey The European Convention on Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2010)

  • P. Craig and G. De Búrca, EU Law – Text, Cases and Materials, (OUP 2011, 5th ed.)

Course information guide:
See reader.


  • The reader will contain all practical information

  • The reader is available on Blackboard

Recommended course materials

  • None


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Vasiliki Kosta, LL.M

  • Work address: KOG, room B2.31

  • Contact information: By appointment through email

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 8540

  • Email: “v.kosta@law.leidenuniv.nl”:mailto:v.kosta@law.leidenuniv.nl


  • 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 8837

  • Email: “w.h.rodger@law.leidenuniv.nl”:mailto:w.h.rodger@law.leidenuniv.nl

Remarks None