European criminal law

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Students will learn about the evolution and the current framework of both European Union law and Human Rights law in criminal responsibility matters. Besides basics and principles of the subject matter, the course will also provide insights into some outstanding problems related to European criminal justice system (including for example immigration law, environmental law and the fight against hate-speech). Students who will successfully attend the course will thus achieve those instruments, in terms of knowledge and capacities, that any lawyer currently needs in order to operate in the fields of criminal law and related fundamental rights protection. The course in entirely taught in English.
Expected learning outcomes
The course aims at providing students with the following competences (according to "Dublin descriptors"):
1) A thorough knowledge of both European Criminal law and Human Rights law in the field of criminal justice;
2) A comprehensive understanding of the legal issues underlying the current evolution of the European criminal justice system;
3) Interpreting and understanding legal provisions belonging to EU and International legal systems;
4) Analysing case-law of different supranational courts and extracting rules related to the accused persons' or the victims' fundamental rights and guarantees;
5) Performing competent legal analysis, reasoning, and problem solving, also with regard to issues which are still unsettled in European legal doctrine and courts;
6) Arguing for a thesis during group discussion in English;
7) Communicating legal concepts orally and in writing in English;
8) Independently understanding future developments of European criminal justice system and human rights related issues.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The course explores the "European criminal justice system" from the twofold perspective of European Union law and Human Rights protection in Europe. Students will learn about the impact of EU law and Human Rights law on Member States' Criminal law, from the historical roots of the European Communities and the Council of Europe, until the most recent developments in the fields of criminal law and criminal procedure. Lectures will offer a case-focused account of such evolution, through the analysis of leading judgments delivered by the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Topics addressed will include: the concept of European criminal law, historical evolution and post-Lisbon framework; the protection of fundamental rights in the context of criminal law; Europeanised substantive criminal law; Europeanised procedural criminal law; the role of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights in the criminal law area. Particular emphasis will be given to key-subjects and areas related to matters of pressing societal concern in Europe, such as: smuggling of migrants and humanitarian assistance in the context of the refugee crisis; labor exploitation and abuse of workers; freedom of expression and hate-speech offences; the protection of the environment through Criminal law.
Prerequisites for admission
For students enrolled at University of Milano, general provisions on "propedeuticità" apply (i.e. they shall have passed the exams of Constitutional law and Institutions of Private law); this does not apply to Erasmus students. An intermediate level of English is sufficient to attend, as this course is also meant as an opportunity for students to enhance their English skills in legal issues.
Teaching methods
For students who will regularly attend the classes, the course is based on lectures and discussions between the students and the teacher, mainly addressing slides and materials (judgments, legal acts, articles) previously uploaded on the course dedicated Arial webpage. The course is entirely taught in English.
Teaching Resources
For students who will regularly attend classes (who will take EXAM A), slides, text and materials for class discussions and individual study will be uploaded on the Arial webpage of the course. The reading list below can be helpful as auxiliary instrument, but it is not mandatory.
For students who will not regularly attend classes (who will take EXAM B), the reading list below (both bullets) is mandatory to take the exam:
o Kai Ambos, European Criminal Law, Cambridge, 2018, only the following pages: 1 to 27; 74 to 84; 103 to 117; 135 to 162; 317 to 347; 411-451.
o Harris, O'Boyle, Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford, 2018, only the following pages: 205 to 280; 373 to 381; 460 to 467; 491 to 500; 962 to 968.
Assessment methods and Criteria
There are two different ways to take the exam, depending on whether the student has regularly attended classes or not.
EXAM A): Students who regularly attended classes will be evaluated on the following cumulative grounds: (i) midterm written exam (2 open questions); (ii) final written exam (3 open questions); (iii) active participation in discussions during lectures. The exams will exclusively deal with the topics addressed during lectures.
EXAM B): Students who will not attend classes regularly will only take a final written exam (5 open questions), which will exclusively deal with the topics covered by the reading list below.
For all students who will pass the final written exam, there will be the opportunity (facultative) of a final oral question. Evaluations will be expressed in thirtieths.
All the exams will be taken in English; mere linguistic mistakes will not be relevant for the evaluation.
IUS/17 - CRIMINAL LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Zirulia Stefano
Educational website(s)
Wednesday at 2.30 p.m. (on appointment only)
Microsoft Teams or Department of Law "Cesare Beccaria", Criminal law section (Via Festa del Perdono 3, 2nd floor)