EU Asylum and Migration Law


This module seeks to provide a critical examination of the contemporary issues in European migration and asylum law and policy. It will focus on the main EU rules and institutions that are relevant for understanding how migration and asylum issues are governed on the EU level. At the same time, drawing from both legal scholarship and interdisciplinary migration studies, it will give the necessary tools to critically reflect on some of the most important issues and tensions that define the European legal order today. These include: the assumptions on migration that define the European integration project, the security rationales of EU migration governance, the tensions and shortcomings of the EU approach to search and rescue operations, the assumptions and contradictions that animate discourses on migration 'crises', the externalisation of migration control, the fallacies and shortcomings of the idea of fighting against irregular immigration.

The course has the following general learning outcomes:

1. Know the main policies and legal instruments that define the governance of international migration to Europe.

2. Critically assess these policies and legal instruments, especially by questioning their objectives and effects. 

3. Critically approach the securitisation of these policies and legal instruments, as well as the externalisation of border controls.

4. Gain a deeper understanding on the interrelationship between EU law on migration and asylum, international refugee law, and international and regional human rights law.

5. Know and reflect on the main challenges that conflicts in Middle Eastern and African countries have posed for migrants seeking to reach Europe, and how these have been approached differently in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

6. Understand and analyse some of the main decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU, and a few European Court of Human Rights decisions, in relation to the governance of migration to Europe.


General characterization





Responsible teacher

Veronica Corcodel


Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language



Not Applicable


Cathryn Costello, The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law (Oxford University Press 2016).

P. Boeles, M. den Heijer, G. Lodder & K. Wouters, European Migration Law (Intersentia, 2014).

Sergio Carrera, Juan Santos Vara, and Tineke Strik (eds) Constitutionalising the external dimensions of EU migration policies in times of crisis (Edward Elgar Publishing 2019).

Violeta Moreno-Lax, Accessing Asylum in Europe: Extraterritorial Border Controls and Refugee Rights under EU Law (Oxford University Press 2017)

Nicholas De Genova et al., The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (Duke University Press, 2010)

Cecilia Menjívar, Daniel Kanstroom (eds) Constructing immigrant "illegality": critiques, experiences, and responses (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Loïc Azoulai and Karin De Vries (eds) EU migration law: legal complexities and political rationales (Oxford University Press 2014).

Benedita Menezes Queiroz, Illegally staying in the EU: an analysis of illegality in EU migration law (Bloomsbury Publishing 2018).

Anna Liguori, Migration law and the externalization of border controls: European state responsibility (Routledge 2019).

Teaching method

The class will be taught mainly on the basis of PowerPoint slides and discussions on the mandatory readings given for each topic. For some classes, students will be also given the opportunity of discussing in groups selected excerpts from the mandatory readings. When relevant, short videos will be showed in class. 

Evaluation method

The assessment method for this course is based on continuous evaluation. Students however retain the right to take the exam if they do not wish to be assessed on the basis of continuous evaluation or if they are not happy with their grade for continuous assessments.

There are two assignments within continuous assessment:

1. Event Analysis - 30% 

2. Essay - 70%

Relevant participation during class can lead to an increase of the final grade (up to 1 point added to the final grade).

The first assignment will be a group exercise in the form of an Event Analysis and will make up 30% of the final grade. Groups of 2 to 4 students (depending on the size of the class) will present their analysis of a recent event chosen by them and related to the topic of the previous week. During the presentation, students are expected to provide an analysis of the chosen event and not a mere restatement of it. At least two aspects must be included in the analysis:

- Context: how did 'we' get here? What are the policy and legal developments that led to the event? Examples of 'events': a new case decided by European or national courts, events happening in the Mediterranean, new projects discussed or adopted by EU institutions or national political figures (such as the New Pact on Migration and Asylum), new reports issued by NGOs, events related to the treatment of migrants during the pandemic etc.

- European human rights law: Can European human rights law be used in some way to analyse this event? Are European human rights law part of the problem or part of the solution to the problem?

The second assignment (70%) will take the form of an essay on an agreed topic. Students must choose a topic related to one of the themes studied in this module. A list of broad potential themes will be provided during week 3.  The essay length must be between 2200 and 3000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography). 

Subject matter

I. Historical and Theoretical Considerations

1. Introduction and Historical Overview

2. Sovereignty, Migration and EU Law: Theoretical Reflections

3. Civil Society and EU Migration Law

II. Accessing the EU:

4. Legal and Illegal Migration to the EU

5. Border Controls in EU Law 

6. Search and Rescue in EU Law

7. The Externalisation of EU Migration Policies

III. Seeking Protection in the EU:

8. The Common European Asylum System and its Procedural Aspects

9. The Dublin Regulation: 'Secondary Migration' of Protection Seekers in Europe

10. The Qualification of Protection Seekers under EU Law and their Rights

11. Temporary Protection in EU Law

12. Vulnerability and the CEAS