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The European Court of Justice and Other Famous Courts

Module Code: POU33132

Module Name: The European Court of Justice and Other Famous Courts 2019-20

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 2
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week; 1 tutorial per fortnight
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Prof Will Phelan
  • Office hours: TBA or by appointment

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course it is expected that students will have a detailed understanding of the politics, history and law of the European Court of Justice, one of the most remarkable institutions in contemporary international politics and without precedent in previous world history. It will be an interdisciplinary module drawing on political science, law, and history. Although the major focus of the module is on the European Court of Justice, the politics and law of other courts and international tribunals will also be discussed, certainly including the United States Supreme Court and the politics of the US constitution, but also perhaps including the Supreme Court of Ireland and the German Bundesverfassungsgericht as well as international dispute settlement tribunals such as the World Trade Organization, Investor-State Dispute Settlement systems, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

This module is supported by the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law and Politics which will enable talks by a variety of outside speakers including scholars, historians, and practicing lawyers

Module Learning Aims

This course is aimed at those wanting a comprehensive knowledge of the European Court of Justice as well as other prominent courts, tribunals and legal systems, national and international.


Module Content

Students will also have developed an understanding of alternative approaches to understanding and investigating court decision-making, including through a focus on legal texts, use of the comparative method, archival research, judicial biography, and quantitative approaches.

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Sample Reading List

Terpan, F. and S. Saurugger (2016). The Court of Justice of the European Union and the politics of law (Palgrave Macmillan).

A survey of the ‘famous cases’ of the European Court of Justice:
e.g. Rudden, B. and D. Rossa Phelan (1997). Basic Community Cases. Oxford, Oxford UP.

Davies, B. (2012). Resisting the European Court of Justice: West Germany's Confrontation with European law, 1949-1979. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Duranti, M. (2017). The Conservative Human Rights Revolution : European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention. Oxford, OUP.

Moyn, S. (2015). Christian Human Rights. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Finkelman, P. (2018). Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation's Highest Court. Cambridge, MA, Harvard UP

Assessment Details (TBC)

25% essay
10% tutorial attendance/ response papers
65% for 90 minute examination

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