Legal clinic: Rule of Law and Democracy

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
IUS/09 IUS/21
Learning objectives
Aim of the course is to develop the knowledge of the Rule of law and Democracy.
Students will explore questions related to the debate over what are the fundamental elements of Democracy and the Rule of law. These questions include: How one can define the Rule of Law? Is the Rule of Law a necessary condition for Democracy? How can the Rule of Law advance Sustainable Development in the world?
In the first part, the clinic will offer a theoretical and historical overview of the Rule of Law and will examine the formal, procedural and substantive requirements of the Rule of Law.
In the second part, the clinic will help students to apply the four universal principles of the Rule of Law (Accountability, Just Law, Open Government; Accessible and impartial dispute resolution) and the relevant benchmarks to selected countries.
Expected learning outcomes
The course will lead to the following outcomes:
- students shall know the fundamental aspects of the Rule of Law and Democracy and the interaction between the two concepts.
- students shall be able to apply the acquired notions to different Countries.
- students shall be able to express notions and opinions correctly, using the appropriate terminology;
- students shall acquire good individual study skills
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The syllabus below indicates the key themes and issues discussed in this clinic:
- the Rule of Law: history, definition and requirements
- Democracy and the Rule of Law: definitions and distinctions
- how the rule of law can advance suistainable development
- how to "measure" the rule of law
- from theory to practice: analysis of selected countries
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
The first part of the clinic will be structured on lectures, but students will always have the possibility to have an open and interactive exchange of views with the Professor. Students may be required to read documents and legal materials to be discussed together with the Professor and other colleagues.
During the second part of the Clinic students will be asked to write a short essay and to discuss it in class.
Teaching Resources
This reading list is indicative - i.e. it provides an idea of texts that may be useful to students on this clinic, but it is not considered to be a compulsory reading list.
- Bingham, Tom (Lord), "The Rule of Law", London, Penguin, 2010;
- Fallon, Richard H., Jr. "'The Rule of Law' as a Concept in Constitutional Discourse." Columbia Law Review 97.1 (1997): 1-56;
- Tamanaha, Brian Z. On The Rule of Law: History, Politics, Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004;
- Jerg Gutmann, Stefan Voigt, "The rule of law: Measurement and deep roots", in European Journal of Political Economy, 54 (2018), 68-82;
- European Commission for Democracy through law (Venice Commission), RULE OF LAW CHECKLIST, Adopted in March 2016.
- Gowder, Paul A. The Rule of Law in the Real World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Credits will be based on attendance and partecipation to the clinic. In the second part of the clinic students are required to write a short essay (3/4 pages) and discuss it in class. Scope of the essay will be the application of the Rule of Law benchmarks to a single Country.
IUS/09 - PUBLIC LAW - University credits: 0
IUS/21 - COMPARATIVE PUBLIC LAW - University credits: 0
Lessons: 21 hours
Professor: Osti Alessandra
In order to schedule an appointment, please write at:
Until August 31th, all the appointements will be held on line on Teams