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Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Law

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

M (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  IUS/21)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

It is strongly recommended that students have already taken exams in constitutional and European law.

Mission & Content Summary

Rights are examples of ‘Essentially contested concepts’. Their meaning, level of protection and the balance between competing rights and interests are open to debate. Understanding the contemporary dynamics of rights protection requires a closer look to the mechanisms envisaged for their protection not only at the national, but also at the supranational (EU) level. Starting from such premises, the aim of the course is to explore how civil liberties and human rights are protected in practice the European context.


The course starts with a historical outlook of the concepts of ‘civil liberties’ and ‘human rights’, to then focus on the protection mechanisms at both the national and supranational levels. The main topics of the course are:

  • Concepts and conceptualizations of rights from an historical and comparative perspective.
  • The protection of fundamental rights in the national context.
  • The protection of fundamental rights in the EU context.
  • The interplay between the EU and the ECHR.
  • The interplay between the EU, the ECHR and national systems as far as the protection of fundamental rights is concerned.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Understand fundamental rights and civil liberties in their historical and geographical context.
  • Identify the mechanisms envisaged by both domestic and European Union law for the protection of fundamental rights.
  • Understand the interplay between national and European case law on the protection of fundamental rights.
  • Critically assess the protection of rights in the context of the European multilevel legal orders.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Understand the basic concepts which characterise the European multilevel legal order in relation to fundamental rights.
  • Identify the instruments for the protection of rights in the European multilevel legal order.
  • Critically evaluate potential conflicts deriving from the interplay between national and European mechanisms for the protection of rights.
  • Combine (national and European) legal materials with a view to build legal arguments concerning the balancing between competing rights and conflicting interests. 

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)

The learning experience of this course includes, in addition to face-to-face lectures:

  • The discussion of case studies, which are developed throughout the course with a view to follow the development of the topics.
  • Group assignments, which stimulate students’ ability to build legal arguments in the context of the European multilevel legal system.
  • Moreover, students are encouraged to engage in class discussion, to bring their personal understanding of the topics and to share their insights on legal arguments.
  • The course also includes one or two guest lectures by practitioners and judges, aimed at providing students with an understanding of how norms concerning rights are concretely applied.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •     x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)
  • x    

    Attending students are given the possibility to present an original research/contribution in class in the form of a group-assignment. The final grade may be increased up to 3 points for the group assignment. 

    Teaching materials
    • T.R.S. ALLAN, The Sovereignty of Law: Freedom, Constitution and Common Law, OUP, 2013, chapter 8.
    • G. LETSAS, A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, OUP, 2009, chapters 1,2, and 4.
    • E. SPAVENTA, EU Fundamental Rights, in Barnard and Peers Eu Law, OUP second edition 2017, chapter 9.
    • E. SPAVENTA, A Very Fearful Court? The Protection of Fundamental Rights in the EU after Opinion 2/13, (2015) Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 35-56.
    • Case-studies discussed in class and uploaded on the Bboard platform.
    • Other teaching materials are announced before the start of the course and indicated into the Bboard platform.



    Last change 12/06/2019 08:36