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European Non-Discrimination Law


Admission requirements

Students need to have successfully followed at least an introductory course in European Union law or in human rights law.


Since the 18th Century French and American Revolutions, equality has been one of the founding principles of modern democratic states. The idea that all citizens are equal before and in the law and that there should be no discrimination against them takes a central place in modern legal thinking. However, unfortunately, this does not mean that societies are free from discrimination. After World War II, the norm of equal treatment and/or non-discrimination has been laid down in a large number of international treaties and declarations (e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW, CERD, CRPD), in regional human rights conventions (e.g. the ECHR) and in the EU Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The right to equal treatment, and the prohibition of discrimination, have also been incorporated in numerous national constitutions and national civil and criminal laws.

In this course students will study European Union non-discrimination law on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race and ethnic origin, disability, religion or belief and age. They will examine how the foundational texts of the European Union as well as several EU Directives, as interpreted through the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), conceptualise the prohibition of discrimination, in what areas of social and economic life these norms are applicable and how they work in practice. To a minor extent, comparisons will be made with certain other (international) systems which offer protection against discrimination, most notably the ECHR and the case law of the ECtHR.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The aim of this course is to familiarise students with the basic principles and legislation of the European Union in the field of non-discrimination law, in relation to other existing international norms.

Achievement levels
At the end of this course, students are able to:

  • describe the history and human rights background of European Union non-discrimination law.

  • provide an overview of the legal instruments of the European Union in the area of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race and ethnic origin, disability, religion or belief and age, and of the relevant case law of the CJEU.

  • explain the extent of protection against discrimination by the system of European Union non-discrimination law.

  • compare the system of protection against discrimination offered by European Union non-discrimination law with other systems of protection against discrimination, most notably the ECHR system.

  • solve a fictional case concerning a topic related to EU non-discrimination law.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: to be announced (probably 5)

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. J. Mačkić plus a number of guest lecturers (to be determined).

  • Required preparation by students: reading EU and international non-discrimination instruments, case law of CJEU and ECtHR and relevant academic writing.


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: to be announced (probably 5)

  • Names of instructors: Dr. J. Mačkić

  • Required preparation by students: as indicated on Blackboard.

Other methods of instruction

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 a written or oral exam.

Submission procedures
To be confirmed in the reader

Areas to be tested within the exam
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 and 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

Course information guide
Will be placed on Blackboard

Recommended course materials

  • European Commission, Compilation of Case Law on the equality of treatment between women and men and on non-discrimination in the European Union, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union 2010, to be consulted online via:

  • E. Ellis and P. Watson, EU Anti-Discrimination Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012

  • S. Fredman, Discrimination Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011

  • D. Schiek et al. (eds.), Cases, Materials, Texts on National, Supranational and International Non-Discrimination Law, Oxford: Hart Publishing 2007


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 Steenschuur 25, kamer B2.29

  • Telephone number: 003171 527 7087

  • Email:


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Department: European Law

  • Room number secretary: B.1.21

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 – 17:00

  • Telephone number secretary: Ms. Petra van der Helm 0031 71 527 3596

  • Email:



Contractual programma

Anyone interested in registering for this course as part of a Contractual Programme (Contractonderwijs), which includes examination, will find further information regarding costs, application and registration, conditions etc. on the website of Juridisch PAO (Legal postgraduate education).