LAWSG152A Human Rights in Europe I: Theory and Practice of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Credit value: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS, 150 learning hours)
Convenor: George Letsas
Other Teachers: None
Teaching Delivery: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars, Term One
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: LAWSG152 Human Rights in Europe;
LAWSG152B Human Rights in Europe II: European Union and Human Rights
Qualifying module for: LLM in European Union Law
LLM in Human Rights Law
LLM in Jurisprudence and Legal Theory
LLM in Public Law
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay
Final Assessment: One 3,000-word essay (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

What is the point and purpose of international human rights treaties? How should the European Court of Human Rights interpret the ECHR? What grounds its legitimacy to expand the scope and meaning of the Convention rights? Under what conditions, if any, should the Court give states a margin of appreciation? This module explores both legal and philosophical questions about the interpretation of the ECHR and the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights. It also looks at the model of review that the European Court uses and explores the test of proportionality in the light of philosophical theories about the moral foundations of human rights.

The aim of this module is two-fold: First to explore the way in which the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted the ECHR and the model of judicial review that the Court applies. Second, to evaluate the Court’s approach in the light of concerns about the Court’s legitimacy as well as in the light of theories of human rights.

Module syllabus:

  1. The ECHR: Overview of the Convention Rights and the Approach of the Strasbourg Court
  2. The ECHR as a ‘Living Instrument’
  3. The Margin of Appreciation and Subsidiarity
  4. International Human Rights, Legality and Legitimacy
  5. The European Review Model Part I: The Nature and Scope of ECHR rights: Absolute Rights
  6. The European Review Model Part II: Proportionality
  7. Balancing and ‘Necessary in a Democratic Society’
  8. Foundations of Rights: Trumps or Scales?
  9. The Future of the European Court of Human Rights
Recommended materials:

  • Harris, O’Boyle & Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, 3rd edition (2014)
  • George Letsas, A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University Press, paperback edition (2009)
  • Stephen Greer, The European Convention on Human Rights: Achievements, Problems and Prospects, Cambridge University Press (2006)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading: