International and European Refugee Law

Course Description: 

This course explores the legal and policy issues of forced migration. It is practice oriented, enabling the students to meet leading actors of the refugee scene. The course consists of five major blocks: the first sets the historic, conceptual and philosophical framework. The second reviews international refugee law, to be applied at the universal level. The third thoroughly investigates the European asylum acquis  and practice from its inception to the crisis of 2015-2016 and the paralysis thereafter.  The fourth block is rather empirical and introduces the actors, first and foremost the refugees, their psychological experience during flight and  in the asylum country and the major actors alleviating their plight. Personal encounter with  UNHCR officers, NGO case workers, psychologists treating vulnerable cases form part of this block. The last unit extends the view: it covers internal displacement and the debates about migration caused by environmental change.

 Knowledge of law in general or international law in particular is not a prerequisite of participation in the course.

Learning Outcomes: 

In terms of cognitive skills the course is designed to develop the students’ readiness to develop logical arguments supporting a predetermined outcome, in other words to represent interests from a toolbox of available and legitimate legal arguments. Seminar discussion helps refine the argumentative and rhetoric skills. The presentation by each student during the course  serves strengthening the research design capabilities, the skill of academic co-operation, and, at the same time the readiness for individual work. The historic and empirical aspects of the course enrich the personal motivation and enhance emotional identification, thereby openness to plurality. The link of theory with “field experience” will anchor the abstract scholarly knowledge in thick reality thereby preparing students to be effective agents if later they start to work in this field.


The final exam mobilises the analytical and critical skills and the ability to be productive under time pressure. Constant formal and informal  feed-back from the professor during the course creates  an iterative process leading to deeper insight. Finally, the whole spirit of the course (as of refugee law itself)  supports the idea of open society and the value of individual freedom and human rights.

 Grading:     Participation and presentation(s): 40%

                    Final exam: 60%