cod. 1010813

Academic year 2023/24
5° year of course - Second semester
- Francesco MAZZACUVA
Academic discipline
Diritto penale (IUS/17)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
36 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with the acquisition of the necessary tools for knowledge and research in the field of fundamental rights relevant to criminal matters, through the analysis of case law and doctrinal opinions on the most relevant topics. At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to understand the arguments of fundamental rights judgments, to grasp their evolutions and possible contradictions, to recognize the forms of 'dialogue' between the Courts in this field and to express themselves using the appropriate legal language.


In order to take the exam, Italian students must have the following language skills: English Language B1, and have passed the following exams: Institutions of Private Law, Institutions of Roman Law Constitutional Law and Criminal Law 1.

Course unit content

The course aims to explore the current role of human rights in criminal justice. In particular, this topic will be addressed by analyzing the most important judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and of some national courts (from the Supreme Courts of the United States and Canada to European Constitutional Courts). Among the issues that will be considered are: (a) the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, with particular reference to the rights of prisoners and the debate on the legitimacy of life imprisonment; (b) the problem of defining the concepts of “crime” and “penalty” for the purposes of applying the main substantive and procedural criminal law guarantees; (c) the limits of criminalization with respect to conduct constituting the exercise of fundamental rights, especially in the fields of sexual freedom, freedom of expression and end-of-life matters (and thus, for example, the problem of the legitimacy of the criminal regulation of voluntary prostitution, negationism and assisted suicide).

Full programme

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For attending students, the bibliography consists of the case law pronouncements that will be addressed during the course (only the paragraphs analyzed in the lectures), which will be published on the Elly platform. For non-attending students, the bibliography consists of a selection of articles published in law journals (approximately 250 pages overall).

Teaching methods

Teaching will be delivered through face-to-face lectures and audiovisual materials will also be made available online via the Elly platform. Lectures will be structured to encourage active student participation and critical analysis of relevant case law material.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final summative assessment, with a mark out of thirty, consists of an oral exam in English that includes at least three questions. The questions will aim to test the correct understanding of the syllabus and the learning of the fundamental concepts of the subject. There are no intermediate exams.

Other information

The students may contact the professor by email or during the office hours.