LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Dr George Letsas
Dr Virginia Mantouvalou
Other Teachers:
Mr Colm O'Cinneide
Prof Piet Eeckhout


Human rights law has acquired a central role in Europe. The Council of Europe, the main supranational human rights organisation in the region, is considered to be effective and paradigmatic at international level, primarily because of the role of the European Court of Human Rights that monitors compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Union, which was not traditionally a human rights organisation, has started to grant human rights a much more central role than it used to. The aim of the module is to investigate both jurisdictions, looking at the substantive law and its monitoring, philosophical issues on its interpretation, as well as the politics on matters such as immigration and social rights.

The first part of the module explores the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights. It examines key areas of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, regarding a) the procedure before the European Court b) general methods of interpretation and standards of review used by the European Court of Human Rights (margin of appreciation, proportionality, balancing, autonomous concepts) c) principles and policies on core rights of the Convention (right to life, freedom of expression and right not to be tortured). Although it does not cover the case law on all the rights of the Convention, reference will be made to cases that illustrate the use of general interpretive principles.

The second part focuses on the EU. It discusses the inclusion of human rights in the treaties of the EU, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in this context. The protection of civil and social rights in the EU gives rise to conflicts with economic freedoms, which the course examines. It also explores more general questions on interpretation of rights such as religion and the prohibition of slavery, servitude and forced labour. The role of rights in the external relations of the EU is also assessed. The course also looks at the issue of the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. This part of the module examines case law that illustrates the main tendencies, and emphasises the importance of philosophical analysis in assessing the possibilities and shortcomings of human rights principles in this supranational legal order.


Term 1

  1. Introduction to the Strasbourg system
  2. The monitoring system: the application process
  3. General principles of interpretation: an overview
  4. Intentionalism, textualism and the Convention as a ‘living instrument’
  5. The margin of appreciation
  6. Proportionality and balancing
  7. The legitimacy of international human rights institutions
  8. Positive obligations
  9. Freedom of expression
  10. Remedies, compliance and impact on national legal systems

Term 2:

  1. The constitutionalisation of human rights in the EU
  2. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  3. The Council of Europe and the European Union
  4. Social rights v economic freedoms
  5. Civil and political rights v economic freedoms
  6. Modern slavery
  7. Freedom of religion
  8. Human rights of migrants
  9. Human rights in the external relations of the EU
  10. Human rights and European Integration

Background Reading (optional):

  • P Craig, G de Burca, EU Law, OUP, 2011, 5th edition, Chapter 11
  • G Letsas, A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, 2nd edition, OUP, 2009
  • R McCrea, Religion and the Public Order of the European Union, OUP, 2010
  • S Greer, The European Convention on Human Rights: Achievements, Problems and Prospects, Cambridge University Press, 2006
  • C Gearty, V Mantouvalou, Debating Social Rights, Hart, 2011

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: Medium – 16-50 students
Who may enrol: LLM students, other UCL Masters students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: It cannot be taken with its components, which are half modules:

a) LAWSG152A Human Rights in Europe I: Theory and Practice of the European Convention on Human Rights
b) LAWSG152B Human Rights in Europe II: The European Union and Human Rights

Core Module for LLM specialism: European Union Law, Human Rights Law, Public Law
Final Assessment: 2 x 3,000 word coursework essay
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one practice essay per term

This page was last updated on 24 July, 2014


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.