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European Union Law Foundations


Dutch students that have followed the 5 ECTS Course Introductie Europees Recht (BAI) will not receive credits for this course due to the material overlap.

Admission requirements

  • Background in law

  • Sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher)


European Union law is a vast and fascinating area of law, forming an integral part of the legal systems of its Member States. Almost seventy percent of all rules and regulations in force in the EU Member States have their origin in Brussels. Although one may doubt the exact figure, it is beyond doubt that EU law continues to grow, both in terms of its importance and the range of topics covers.
Many of you will have little or no prior knowledge of EU law. The course therefore starts off as an introductory course, giving you the basics of European integration and the EU legal order. While it is not possible to cover all areas of EU law, the course aims at giving a thorough basis in the nature of the EU legal order, the EU institutional framework and the general principles of EU law.

How did it all start more than 60 years ago? How has the EU developed from a 6-member Community of Coal and Steel towards the Union of 27 we know today, covering a very broad range of areas? What is the role of the European Commission and other EU institutions? How do national and EU courts cooperate? What are the sources of EU law and how is EU law made? Why is the EU legal order unique in its kind and can individuals rely on EU law against their own state? What can individuals do to challenge EU legislation?
These are just some of the issues which will be dealt with throughout this course.
Through assignments and class discussions, students will get a practical grasp of EU law and will learn to work with the EU treaties and secondary EU legislation. Students will learn to read and analyze cases from the European Court of Justice of the European Union and study some of its most important judgments.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

After this course the students will be able to:

  • present the institutions of the European Union and to explain their functions

  • consider the special nature of EU law and its unique characteristics compared to public international law

  • explain the constitutional framework of the EU legal order and the doctrines of direct effect and primacy/supremacy of EU law

  • identify the legal remedies of the EU legal order and to be able to advise on how individuals can rely on or challenge EU law and also how the institutions can enforce EU law;

  • find, interpret and apply the different sources of EU law, including primary law, secondary law, case law, and the general principles of EU law in concrete cases;

  • present a case in class.

In overall, to understand the development of the Union and EU law through the case law of the Court of Justice.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
At the end of this course, students should:

  • Have a thorough understanding of the EU integration process and EU institutions;

  • Have a clear understanding of the sources, nature and application of EU law;

  • Have a clear understanding of the legal review of rights at national and European level;

  • Be familiar with the landmark judgments of the Court of Justice;

  • Be able to apply EU law to practical cases.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of interactive (2 hour) lectures: 10
    The course will take place over five weeks with two classes per week. Each lecture lasts two hours and they are interactive. The lecturer will discuss with students the assigned reading materials and students will present cases which have been assigned previously.

  • Name of the lecturer: Dr. F. Behre

  • Required preparation by students:
    Students are expected to attend the classes. They are required to read carefully all assigned reading materials and cases. The students will also be required to prepare a short presentation in class.


Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam (two essay questions and two case studies)(90%)

  • Practical assignment: presentation of a case in class and active participation (10%)

If only a few students fail the exam at the first attempt, the retake may be an oral exam. In that case, you will be informed by the coordinator 10 days ahead of the scheduled retake date. The exam and the presentation together determine the final grade. Partial grades for the exam and the presentation will lose their validity at the end of the academic year for those of you who have not passed the course by then.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the mandatory reading materials (literature, Treaties and case law) of the course and all subjects discussed in class.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations). Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • P. Craig and G. De Búrca, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials (Seventh Edition, OUP 2020)

  • N. Foster, Blackstone’s EU Treaties & Legislation 2021-2022 (OUP 2021)

Course information guide:

  • On Brightspace.


Recommended course materials

  • Ch. Tobler and J. Beglinger. Essential EU Law in Charts (Fifth Edition, hvgorac 2020)

  • Ch. Tobler and J. Beglinger, Essential EU Law in Text (Fifth Edition, hvgorac 2020)

  • C. Barnard and S. Peers (eds), European Union Law (Third Edition, OUP 2020)


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.

Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Darinka Piqani

  • Work address: KOG building, room B1.37

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 1721

  • Email: [


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Department: European Law

  • Room number secretary: B. 1.11

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00

  • Telephone number secretary: 071 – 527 3596

  • Email:


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.