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LouvainX: Asylum and Refugee Law

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What is asylum? What is the principle of non-refoulement? Who should be recognized and protected as a refugee? These notions are complex. Learn to understand and apply them!

14 weeks
6–8 hours per week
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Starts Dec 8

About this course

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What is asylum?
What is the principle of non-refoulement?
Who should be recognized and protected as a refugee?

These questions are both ancient and contemporary.

Whether you are a decision maker, a judge, a lawyer, a human rights activist, a student, a lawyer in the business law department of a private company that wants to hire or assist refugees, you will have to answer these questions. The answers are complex. They require precise theoretical and practical knowledge of national, regional and international law.

The 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees will enable you to master these questions. This Convention remains the cornerstone of international refugee protection. It is at the heart of this online course. You will analyze in detail the principle of non-refoulement, the definition of a refugee and the causes of persecution such as political opinion, race, nationality, religion or membership of a social group.

This definition will allow you to identify the people who, legally, should be recognized as beneficiaries of refugee status and international protection. Using a conceptual tool, the three-scale theory , you will analyze in a rigorous and structured manner each distinct element of the refugee definition (persecution, risk, proof) as well as, in a comprehensive approach, the definition as a whole.

By confronting theoretical analysis with practical situations, you will see that, if correctly interpreted, the Geneva Convention remains effective and still allows to this day the protection of many fugitives or refugees ( Flüchtling, réfugiés ).

Beyond law, you will understand the value of an interdisciplinary approach, in particular when measuring the credibility of an asylum seeker’s narrative.
You will examine the importance of regional, subsidiary or complementary protection in addressing armed conflict, events seriously disturbing public order or mass influxes of people in need of international protection. Regional protections find their source in European Law, African law or American Law.
Finally, you will look at future challenges, such as the issue of climate refugees.

Numerous sources will be provided throughout the course in order to help you understand the concepts such as relevant case-law, doctrine and guidelines of UNHCR and other international institutions on refugee issues and international human rights law (such as EASO).

In this course, Asylum and Refugee Law, you will learn whether or not migrants can be returned to another country, whether or not they should be included in or excluded from the refugee definition, and whether or not to challenge the decision on someone’s refugee status. You will do all of this by developing a rigorous legal reasoning.

At a glance

  • Institution: LouvainX
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    Having completed an undergraduate degree program in Law (Bachelor’s degree, license, LL.B.) or having completed an undergraduate degree program in a field other than Law and/or having practical experience in human rights (having been in regular contact with migrants, having worked in asylum rights organizations or collaborated with refugee aid associations, etc.).

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcripts: English, Français
  • Associated programs:
  • Associated skills: Public Order, Case Law, Decision Making, Refugee Issues

What you'll learn

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By the end of this course, you will be able to

  • formulate rigorous legal reasoning on the right to asylum and international protection of refugees.
  • define and apply the concepts of asylum and refugee status.
  • analyze case law decisions of international, regional and national courts and tribunals relating to asylum and refugee law.
  • criticize or justify the reasoning of an asylum authority (administrative or judicial) in order to develop arguments in a decision or appeal.
  • question and imagine the future challenges in the field of asylum.
  • ensure well-constructed advocacy on international refugee law.
  • analyze asylum claims in details.

Module 1: Context of asylum law and underlying texts

You will explore both the history and the current state of the right of asylum, illustrating the permanence of the debates related to asylum.

Module 2: Asylum Law and Principle of non-refoulement

You'll learn the concept of asylum, the principle of non-refoulement and the distribution mechanism of asylum seekers in Europe under the Dublin Regulation.

Module 3: Refugee definition

This module is devoted to international protection and, in particular, to the refugee definition under the Geneva Convention (1951 refugee Convention).

Module 4: Regional Protections

This module discusses regional protections that complement international protection and the refugee definition in the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Module 5: Asylum in Practice

You will explore the different components of an asylum procedure through the journey of asylum seekers from their country of origin to the country of destination.

Module 6: Contemporary Issues

You will explore some current challenges to migration, for example finding solutions in law to adapt to new realities, such as climate refugees, or question the future effects of the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact in Refugees.

Learner testimonials

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" I really enjoyed this course, made me think about obstacles and difficulties people in need of international protection pass throug during his journey; also learn about the protection mechanisms around the world. " A learner on ClassCentral

Frequently Asked Questions

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The content of the videos is in French, why?

The initial version of this course was made in French. We adapted everything (course material, quizzes etc) to create this English edition. The video audio is still in French, but you have English subtitles for every video.

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

This course is part of International Law MicroMasters Program

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Expert instruction
5 graduate-level courses
Progress at your own speed
1 year 3 months
6 - 9 hours per week

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