09646 - Comparative Criminal Law

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

This course aims to provide students with a general understanding of the comparative method in the framework of the criminal law, as developed, in particular, through the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The course will also familiarise students with the general principles relating to the criminal liability of natural persons as well as legal entities as applied in the main European national systems, within the framework of the European Union.

Course contents

It is necessary for students to be familiar with the basic notions of the Italian system of criminal law in order to meaningfully participate in the classes.

The course is divided into two modules assigned to Professor Emanuela Fronza and Professor Paolo Lobba respectively.

Following a preliminary analysis of the history, method, actors and goals of the comparative method in the criminal law domain, the course will centre on fundamental notions that will guide students through both the civil law and the common law systems.

The second part will focus on the comparative examination of a number of specific topics, including hate speech, fake news and role of social networks, multi-layered notion of torture (Daschner case, ticking bomb scenario, torture Memos), sexual violence and attendant issues of consent, (de)criminalisation of homosexual intercourse, and victims participation in criminal proceedings. Some classes will be devoted to the criminal law system of the United States.

The course will analyse national and international leading cases, in order to show empirical examples of the various issues related to the criminal law, particularly its use in the protection of human rights.


The compulsory syllabus and the reading list will be published on the Alma DL website.

Texts and materials of the cases discussed during the course will be also uploaded on the AlmaDL website, along with potential additional readings that will be identified during classes.

Teaching methods

The course will be held in lectures and additional seminars and activities to further analyse some topics and encourage students’ involvement. In the lectures, the syllabus will be systematically explained, together with the examination of the case law relevant to each topic.

Attending students will be encouraged to take part in the discussion and, individually or in small groups, carry on research and present their results during the lecture.

The teaching will be carried on using the comparative approach and the analysis of the domestic and international case law. This methodology allows the students to understand the bigger picture, consider the plurality of mechanisms – contentious or not – to redress and the importance of the legal, historical and political contexts.

The course requires students to actively participate in the classes, in order to develop critical thinking skills. Professionals and academics with extensive experience in international and European criminal law will be invited to teach individual seminars or classes. Moreover, documentaries and movies may be employed to illustrate some the most crucial aspects concerning the internationalisation of criminal law and justice.

The main purpose of the course is to provide students with suitable tools for the interpretation and application of the main normative provisions of national and European criminal law, the ability to conduct effective legal research and to solve cases that involve fundamental issues of national and European criminal law.

Assessment methods


Attending students:

The final exam consists of an individual take-home paper of at least 6,000 and not exceeding 7,000 words on a topic among those addressed in class or one that is agreed upon with the lecturers. In the alternative, students may combine an in-class individual presentation with a short paper on the same topic of the presentation. In any event, the bibliographic research is an essential part of the grading, and falls thus fully within the responsibility of students. Online sources are accepted provided that they be not the main sources and that they be of legal nature (e.g. avoid using Wikipedia).

The lecturer has discretion to adjust the grade to reflect active participation demonstrated during classes.

Students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders (DSA) can ask to the Professor adaptations for their specific needs.

Enrolment in the final exam shall be done through the online system ‘Almaesami’ on https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm.

Teaching tools

To facilitate the comprehension and learning of the syllabus, the course will be presented with the support of PowerPoint slides.

Students with disabilities or learning disabilities (DSA) who need additional support will be able to refer to the professor to discuss their needs and be directed to the relevant personnel and agree on specific assistance.

Office hours

See the website of Emanuela Fronza

See the website of Paolo Lobba