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European Asylum law


Please note that the following description of the course is only provisional and therefore subject to change.

Admission requirements

  • Background in law

  • Sufficient command of English

  • Students should be familiar with the basics of international and European law.


In the Member States of the European Union asylum is governed by international human rights treaties and European Union Law. Human rights play a predominant role in asylum law. Important treaties such as the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Treaty Against Torture and the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child are the foundation of asylum practices. Increasingly, EU asylum law is shaping the asylum practices of EU member states.

The course program is, apart from an introductory lecture, divided into three parts each consisting of three sessions (two lectures and a seminar). In the introductory lecture the context of European asylum law and the instruments of relevant international refugee law and European asylum law will be discussed. The three following parts concern: 1. The qualification for international protection under the Refugee Convention and the EU Qualification Directive; 2. Access to Europe, reception conditions and detention; and 3. The Dublin system and asylum procedures.

This course can be followed in combination with European Migration Law or separately. The courses are organized in a similar manner.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to provide students with knowledge and insight into the relation between the various levels of international and European asylum law and their impact on individuals. Students learn to apply this knowledge to asylum cases.

Achievement levels:
After having completed this course students must be able:

  • To distinguish between EU law and international law and explain the relation between EU asylum law and the various instruments of international law and the way they interact in the abstract as well as in the context of a particular case.

  • To discuss and analyze, orally and in writing, key questions concerning who qualifies for international protection status under EU asylum law; access to the EU and its asylum procedures; reception conditions and detention; the Dublin system; and asylum procedures.

  • To solve complex individual cases on the basis of EU asylum law and international law. To approach the case both from the viewpoint of the asylum seeker and the viewpoint of the State. Students are expected to write three papers, containing a structured legal argumentation and independently research case-law and other relevant materials (for example country of origin information) and apply it to concrete cases or issues.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 7

  • Names of lecturers: Mark Klaassen and Jorrit Rijpma

  • Required preparation by students: reading the materials assigned in the prescribed literature.


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 3

  • Names of instructors: Mark Klaassen and Jorrit Rijpma

  • Required preparation by students: writing a paper (2x) and active oral participation in the discussions.

Group work sessions

  • Number of (2 hour) sessions: 3

  • The group work sessions are intended to facilitate the group work. During the group work sessions, the different groups can work together in preparing their contribution for the seminar.

This course contains a practical exercise: attendance to all the lectures, seminars and group work sessions is compulsory. Non-compliance can lead to the exclusion of the student from the course. The course coordinator should be informed about missing a meeting in advance.

Assessment method

  • Two papers of approximately 1.500 words (80% (40% each))

  • One oral presentation (20%)

The students have to write two papers of approximately 2.000 words and give one oral presentation. For both the papers and the presentation the students have to solve a complex case or write an essay. The oral presentation is a pleading statementin a moot court setting. The two papers count for 40% each of the final grade and the oral presentation for 20%.

Students with a final grade of 5 or lower, who have handed in all the two papers and gave the oral presentation, get the possibility to write one paper of approximately 5000 words. The topic of this paper will be decided by the instructor. The grade for this paper will replace the former grade for the course.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • P. Boeles, M. Den Heijer, G. Lodder & K. Wouter, ‘European Migration Law’, 2nd edition, Intersentia 2014.

  • Additional academic articles (on Brightspace)

  • Legal texts (on Brightspace)

  • Case Law (on Brightspace)

Recommended course materials:

  • To be announced


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 details

  • Coordinator: Dr. M.A.K. Klaassen

  • Work address: KOG, room C1.02

  • Contact information: Monday-Thursday

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7420

  • Email:


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Department: European Law

  • Room number secretary: B1.11

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 5273596

  • Email:


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