LAW40780 Law of the ECHR

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module involves a critical examination of key aspects of the operation and substantive law of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In particular this module focuses on the incorporation of the ECHR into domestic law, the individual complaint procedure as it is operated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), methods of interpretation by the ECtHR, as well as in-depth analysis and critical evaluation of the ECtHR's jurisprudence across a representative selection of ECHR rights.

This module fits within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, with SDG Number 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in particular.

Further instructions will be given in the annual Module Handbook which will be posted on Brightspace one week before the first due class.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, a diligent student should be able to:

a) Describe and evaluate the individual complaint procedure provided for in the ECHR;
b) Engage with debates on the challenges facing the ECtHR;
c) Consider the effect of the ECHR in the national legal system and at the international level;
d) Critically analyse the methodology and jurisprudence of the ECtHR in relation to a range of substantive rights; and,
e) Distinguish, apply and critique the case law of the ECtHR.

The diligent student should also be able to study using appropriate technological means including Brightspace.

Indicative Module Content:

• Introduction to the ECHR
[overview of the origins, history and content of the ECHR, review of the procedure by which cases are processed by the ECtHR]
• Aspects of the Right to Life (Article 2)
[How has the concept of ‘life’ been interpreted by the ECtHR? Since there is a right to life, does that extend to allowing a person choice over when their life will end? What responsibility, if any, does a contracting state have to protect individuals from other private actors [positive obligations? How has the ECtHR approached the interpretation of Article 2(2), as regards the limited situations whereby the deprivation of life is recognised?]
• Aspects of Freedom from Torture, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Article 3)
[Meaning of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; the absolute nature of Article 3 ECHR; positive obligations upon States to prevent Article 3 ECHR violations]
• The Right to Liberty and Security of the Person (Article 5) &to a Fair Trial (Article 6) [The scope of the protection under Article 5 ECHR, in particular the meaning of ‘deprivation of liberty’ and ‘arbitrary detention’; the scope of Art 6 (1); the different guarantees in criminal and non-criminal cases, including the right of access to court; special guarantees in criminal trials, the right to be presumed innocent in particular]
• Aspects of Freedom of Expression (Article 10) [Examining the scope of the protection under Article 10 ECHR in particular the different means of expression protected; and, through case studies, how the ECtHR has assessed the limitations on freedom of expression; examination of two particular areas: cases about hate speech, and cases about whistle-blowers]
• Aspects of Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion (Article 9) [Examining the scope of the protection under Article 9 ECHR, in particular : Who is protected? What is protected? (i.e., definition of religion or belief); through case studies, exploring the issues caused by manifesting religion or belief (i.e. proper v. improper proselytism)]
• Implementation of the ECHR in a comparative perspective [Reviewing aspects of international law (i.e., monism and dualism); examining the reception of the ECHR in various constitutional legal orders: Ireland (ECHR Act 2003); UK (HRA 1998); France (ratification of the ECHR in 1974); other jurisdictions; exploring the wider debate about the relevance of the ECHR system and the recent developments as regards the reform of the ECtHR in particular].

This module content is indicative and is susceptible to change depending on the size of the class and circumstances during the trimester. Also, guest speakers specialised in the ECHR system or in human rights generally may be invited to deliver a guest seminar as part of the trimester schedule.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The key teaching and learning approaches used on this module will include interactive seminars; critical writing, debates, and case-based learning. The teaching activities will take place in situ (face to face) or remotely (online) depending on the circumstances. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Multiple Choice Questionnaire (Short): Quiz on Brightspace to test basic knowledge of the ECHR in week 1. Week 1 n/a Graded No


Examination: Formal written task (2, 000 words per question, 2 questions, within a two-week period).
Coursework (End of Trimester) Yes Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire (Short): Quiz on Brightspace to test more advanced knowledge of the ECHR in week 12. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Individual oral presentation of a ECtHR case in class in weeks 9, 10 or 11. Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

- Post-examination feedback will be provided by means of group feedback posted on Brightspace by the release of the provisional results for this module. This will take the form of indicative feedback (i.e., not full model answers).

Name Role
Assoc Professor Marie-Luce Paris Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Fri 09:00 - 10:50