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
Other Teachers:
Dr Ronan Mcrea
Mr Colm O'Cinneide
Prof Piet Eeckhout
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 20 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students, Other UCL Masters students
Prerequisites: None

Barred module combinations:

It cannot be combined 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 specialism: European Union Law, Human Rights Law, Public Law
Practice Assessment: to be confirmed
Assessment method for Masters students: 2x 3,000 word coursework essay
Module Overview

Module summary

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 very 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. These raise conflicts between social rights and economic freedoms, as well as more general questions on interpretation of rights such as privacy, religion and family life, which are analysed. The role of rights in the external relations of the EU is also assessed. In terms of the monitoring, the course examines the role of courts and new methods of governance. It also looks at the issue of the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. This part of the module looks at 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.

Module syllabus

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 evolutive interpretation
5. The margin of appreciation
6. Proportionality and balancing
7. Social rights and the integrated approach
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. Monitoring human rights I: The role of the European Court of Justice
4. Monitoring human rights II: The EU Fundamental Rights Agency
5. The Council of Europe and the European Union
6. Social rights v economic freedoms
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

Recommended materials

There is no set text for the module. Various articles and book chapters will be assigned for each seminar and posted on Moodle (virtual learning environment).

Preliminary reading

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

Other information: N/A
Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.