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History of European Public Law


Admission requirements

Substantial requirements: none (open to all third-year students); a sufficient level of English (oral and written, min. B2+) is required. Some acquaitance with European political history may prove useful.


The course reflects some of the aims of the research project Sovereignty, International Governance and Global Values.

The course is divided into Part I and II. All students have to attend both parts.

The General Part (Part I) offers an outline of the history of constitutional law in several Western countries, from the late Middle Ages until current developments. Special attention is given, in a comparative-historical perspective, to England and the UK, France, Germany, and (if time allows) the Low Countries. References are also made to supra-territorial systems, organisations and projects, which may contribute to understand to what extent different national European legal developments are related to each other. In this general part, the student will be made familiar with the main historical developments of Western constitutional traditions. The first part shows how distinct national traditions still play today a role in a European context.

In the second part of the paper (Part II, which runs parallel to the General Part during the paper’s five weeks’ time-slot), special topics drawn from the history of international law will be discussed. The emphasis is usually on topics which reflect more general and fundamental developments of international relations and international law, e.g. the changing shape and perception of the ‘international community’. That second part of the course is to some degree taught in the way of practical interactive classes, which require the student to read primary and/or secondary historical sources beforehand.

Course objectives

Purpose of the course
At the end of the course, the student should have acquired a better knowledge and understanding of historical facts and long-term developments as regards how constitutional principles, concepts and institutions have evolved.

Achievement levels
Upon successful completion of the course, the student should be able to view current constitutional law and international issues, especially within a Western European context, in a broad historical and comparative perspective.


The timetable of this course can be found on uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5 (Part I)

  • Names of lecturers: TBA

  • Required preparation by students: TBA

Other methods of instruction

  • Description: practicals, discussing historical sources in context (Part II)

  • Number of (2 hour) instructions: 5

  • Names of instructors: TBA

  • Required preparation by students: TBA

Both Part I and Part II have to be attended during the same academic year; they cannot be split.

Assessment method

Evaluation method Written examination in English (2,5 hours)

Information on the format of the examination will be posted on Brightspace at the beginning of the course.

Course materials Course materials will include texts (provided either on Brightspace or in a paper version), PowerPoint slides of the lectures provided on Brightspace, and any other documentation presented as compulsory materials for the examination during the lectures.


Compulsory reading material
A compulsory reading list will be posted on Brightspace course.


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

Contact information


  • Institute: Metajuridica

  • Department: Rechtsgeschiedenis (Legal History)

  • Opening hours: Monday and Thursday 9.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m. and Tuesday 9.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.

  • Telephone number secretary: (0031) 071 527 7442

  • Email:


The language of this course is English.