LL468      Half Unit
European Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Kai Möller


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Human Rights and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

The course will offer a theoretically informed introduction to the law of the European Convention on Human Rights. It will focus on both the doctrinal framework that the European Court of Human Rights has developed – in particular: proportionality, the margin of appreciation, negative and positive obligations, the living instrument doctrine, and the emerging consensus doctrine – and the substantive questions of what the values underlying human rights are and what these values require in specific contexts. With regard to the latter, more philosophical, aspect, we will pay special attention to the idea of human dignity, exploring in some depth the Court’s view that respect for human dignity [and human freedom] is the ‘very essence’ of the Convention.

Topics include: An introduction to the European Convention. Basic concepts of European Convention law: proportionality, the margin of appreciation, living instrument, emerging consensus. Human dignity - ‘the very essence’ of the Convention? Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the role of religious arguments in human rights law. The right to freedom of expression and the protection of offensive expression. Militant democracy and democratic backsliding in Europe. The right to private life and the enforcement of morality. The right to freedom of religion and religious pluralism in Europe.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term, either in the form of a two hour seminar or an online lecture and one hour class. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

There will be a formative assessment; its format will be confirmed at the start of the course.

Indicative reading

There is no single text covering the course and required readings will be uploaded to Moodle before the seminars.

The readings will consist of a mixture of cases and theoretical materials. The following are useful textbooks:

• Jacobs, White and Ovey, The European Convention on Human Rights, 8th edn (OUP 2020) 

• Harris, O'Boyle and Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, 4th edn (OUP 2018).

A strong European perspective is to be found in:

• van Dijk, van Hoof, van Rijn and Zwaak (eds), Theory and Practice of the European Convention on Human Rights 5th edn (Intersentia, 2018)

Very good edited books include:

• Brems and Gerards (eds), Shaping Rights in the ECHR (CUP 2013)

• Follesdal, Peters and Ulfstein (eds), Constituting Europe (CUP 2013)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2020/21: 28

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills