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Privatissimum: European and International Human Rights Law in Comparative Perspective


Admission requirements

Master degree


The Privatissimum is a condensed, practical course. It is directed at making students research specific elements of the various human rights systems explored in the first two courses of the advanced master European and International Human Rights Law that lend themselves for a fruitful comparison. Differences and similarities; strong and weak aspects; overlap and (potential) interaction between different human rights mechanisms will be explored, keeping in mind the specific social, political and legal settings in which they operate.
Students have to get quickly acquainted with a specific human rights issue and how it is dealt with under different human rights mechanisms, look for relevant materials on the topic and write and present short papers on their findings.

Course objectives *train students in conducting comparative research on different human rights systems *increase their understanding of the working, overlap and (potential) interaction of different human rights mechanisms by having them delve into several concrete human rights issues in a comparative perspective *train students in finding relevant, academically sound information concerning human rights law issues and putting their findings in writing in a short time span *making students better aware of the type of research that will be needed for the final thesis.

Mode of instruction
In the first three weeks, the students address a different, topical human rights issue each week. They investigate how it is approached under the various global and regional human rights systems that have been explored in the previous courses. The teacher discusses the topic chosen for the week with the students. Starting point can be a specific case that has raised considerable discussion; an academic publication that addresses a subject worth investigating; a discussion posted on a human rights blog; etcetera. The students work in subgroups and each subgroup investigates how the topic is approached under a different human rights mechanism, assigned to them by the teacher.
To this end the students
-search for and collect relevant information through internet and/or the library
-discuss the results within their subgroup
-write a subgroup paper with their main findings and send it around to the other students and to the teacher.
At the end of the week the papers are presented and discussed in a small scale conference type seminar to explore in which ways the approaches differ or are similar, how this can be explained, which approaches seem to be most fruitful etcetera. (Students acting as chairpersons, presenters and discussants).

For the fourth and fifth week taken together students are assigned a topic on which they have to do similar research, but this time they write an individual paper in which they have to compare different human rights mechanisms. In fact this paper can be viewed as a mini-thesis.

  • Required preparation by students: see above

Assessment method

Examination form(s)
Assessment method(s) and the weighting of each form of assessment towards the final grade

  • 3 group papers and presentations in conference type seminars: 45%

  • individual paper: 55%

Submission procedures
-group papers hardcopy and/or via email
-individual paper via Blackboard (safe submission procedure; including plagiarism check)

Areas to be tested within the exam
See above.

Reading list
Given the character of this course, there is no fixed reading list. Students have to search for and collect relevant information themselves as part of the learning goals.

Contact information
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. T. Loenen
Work address: Kamerlingh Onnes Building, Steenschuur 25, Room B.1.14
Email: m.l.p.loenen@law,


  • Institute: Public law

  • Administration advanced masters: BIO

  • Mrs. Mahshid Alizadeh (LL.M.):