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Asylum law in Europe: towards regional harmonisation of international protection


This module explores the legal and policy frameworks which apply to refugees and other displaced persons in and around Europe.

Topics covered

  • Refugee flows and asylum trends in Europe and the historical development of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) as well as its scope and objectives
  • The main provisions governing qualification for refugee status under the CEAS
  • The EU form of complementary protection, ‘subsidiary protection’, and its application to those fleeing armed conflict
  • Reception conditions for asylum seekers and asylum procedures under the CEAS
  • The EU’s responsibility-allocation system for the examination of asylum claims and the principle of intra-EU solidarity and fair-sharing of responsibility
  • The EU asylum system’s external dimension and the EU’s role as a global protection actor

Learning outcomes

The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of the key concepts, standards and mechanisms of the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe asylum systems. You will learn how to construct, advance and defend legal and policy arguments based on European asylum law and apply the relevant legal standards to factual case studies.


This elective module is assessed via a 4,000-word research essay, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and three online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Giulia Vicini, module convenor

Giulia Vicini - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Giulia is a Ph.D. candidate in International and European Law at the Université Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne. She is writing a thesis on the role of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees in the European asylum system.

Working as a teaching assistant in International and European Law at the University of Milan, she also runs a legal clinic on the protection of migrants and refugees in an LL.M. Programme on Sustainable Development. Giulia works as a barrister in Milan, primarily assisting asylum seekers before national courts, and often takes part in training programmes for professionals working in reception facilities.

She has authored a number of articles and book contributions in the field of EU asylum law, focusing in particular on the case law of the European Courts. Her publications include ‘The Dublin Regulation between Strasbourg and Luxembourg: Reshaping non-refoulement in the Name of Mutual Trust?’, in the European Journal of Legal Studies, 8(2) 2015 and ‘Conscientious Objection to Military Service and the Notion of Persecution in European Union Asylum Law: The Shepherd Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union’, in the Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13(4) 2015.

Mariana Gkliati, module convenor

Mariana Gkliati - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Mariana Gkliati is a PhD researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Immigration Law of Leiden University. Her doctoral research focuses on legal accountability and effective legal protection of individuals against human rights violations in the area of asylum and immigration attributed to the EU agency Frontex.

She lectures in MA and Bachelor programmes on European Asylum Law and Migration Law and Policy in Europe. She also holds an editorial board position at the Refugee Law Initiative Working Paper Series (University of London), and is an External Affiliate to Statewatch (Frontex Observatory).

Her work experience is shared among Vienna, Athens, and Leiden. She has previously worked at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in the area of asylum, migration, and borders and as a legal case reporter and commentator for Oxford Reports on International Law. She had an earlier career as a journalist, covering stories mainly on education and civil and social rights, and has voluntarily worked for the Greek NGO AITIMA, which provides legal and social aid to asylum seekers and refugees.