European Court of Human Rights

Course content

The European Court of Human Rights is entrusted with the task of interpreting and applying the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court's judgments are binding for more than 40 European states and its enforcement machinery offers, undeniably, the most effective international Human Rights protection in the world.

This course gives an introduction to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The main focus will be on the Court's own judgments, a selection of which will be analyzed in-depth. However, in order to fully understand the Court's practice, the legal context of the Convention is of importance. Thus issues of public international law and international human rights, as well as the peculiarities of major European legal systems, will be referred to and discussed in class. It goes without saying that, this process greatly benefits from the contributions made by students coming from different legal cultures.

The ultimate aim of the course is to enhance students' understanding of the Court's legal reasoning, thereby enabling them to conduct independent studies of the Court's case-law.

Learning outcome

The learning outcomes for the course are fundamental to the understanding of the subject and therefore generally apply to BA students. All students will be expected to contribute positively to class-room discussions, regardless of degree level.

Bachelor level:

- Understand the basic rights contained in the ECHR and the role of the ECtHR in their development,
- Explain the ECtHR’s principles of interpretation and their effect on Convention rights,
- Discuss - orally or in writing - the quality of a judgment or a line in case law of the ECtHR on the basis of existing case law and the general principles of interpretation, 
- Identify the legal issues involved in real or hypothetical cases, and explain the relevance of of ECtHR jurisprudence to them,
- Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a way that is structured and coherent.


This is a discussion-led course – there are no lectures. Students will be expected to have read all assignments for each class and be prepared to discuss them orally. Preparation is therefore essential for the operation of the course.

In line with the learning principles of the Faculty of Law, this course will examine general principles of law from the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights by focusing on case decisions. Occasionally, fact patterns posing specific legal problems may be used, so that students learn to recognize legal issues. Discussion in smaller working groups and presentations may be required for this purpose. Students will also be encouraged to think spontaneously and improve their articulation of legal problems in English through active oral participation in class. For this purpose, the instructor may call on students to discuss topics and the readings of the day. Attendance is therefore necessary to successfully complete the course, ensure a “pass” on the mid-term obligatory element, and prepare for the final examination.

Selected judgments and other materials, ca. 500 pp

Students must have basic knowledge of public international law and have a reasonable command of English.

This course and the courses "International Human Rights Law" are mutually exclusive.

Type of assessment
Written examination, 1 day
Assigned individual written assignment, 1 day
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 46
  • Preparation
  • 229
  • English
  • 275