Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The protection of minorities represents one of the major challenges of modern and plural societies, and therefore it should be an integral part of the expertise of contemporary jurists. The Course aims to demonstrate that the legal basis of a peaceful coexistence consists in the constant research of an equilibrium between equality and diversity, and that its achievement can be ensured only providing flexible and adequate instruments, depending on the context in which they operate. The students will learn about the notion of group or minority, taking into consideration standard categories such as ethnicity, nationality, culture, language, religion, or gender. Then, the Course will discuss the variety of instruments that a multilevel regulation offers to social systems regarding the discipline of groups and minorities. The theoretical content of the Course will be supported by the analysis of case studies to better appreciate the application of the different approaches regarding diversity management. This will contribute to clarify that the mere protection of minorities is an essential prerequisite, but it is not sufficient to guarantee a peaceful coexistence among groups in contemporary societies. In fact, it will become evident that it is necessary to come to a "rule of diversity", founded on the principle of subsidiarity and achieved through the cooperation among institutional subjects (national and sovra-national).

Course contents

The topics of the Course are:

- comparative methodology;

- the meaning of human dignity and of the principles of equality and non-discrimination which govern the Italian constitutional system and others;

- the classification of the minority phenomenon and the concept of minority;

- the international and supranational protection of minorities;

- constitutional models of minority protection;

- areas and instruments of protection: political representation; territorial and non-territorial self-government; linguistic rights; religious rights.


F. Palermo, J. Woelk, Diritto costituzionale comparato dei gruppi e delle minoranze, Padova, CEDAM, 2021.

Additional teaching resources (case law, docs, etc.) will be available on the IOL platform.

Erasmus and Overseas students may define alternative reading materials with Professor Elena Ferioli.

Teaching methods

The Course will be held in the II semester.

The first session runs through lectures about both the theoretical and comparative framework of the main topics of the Course.

The second part runs through the active participation of the Class, based on working groups engaged with the presentation of paradigmatic case studies with respect to the topics addressed during the previous phase. Group presentations will be held as a way of verifying learning for the final evaluation.

Whoever needs alternative and compensatory measures and/or dispensative tools due to disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), should communicate it to the Professor in order to settle a proper approach to the Course.


Assessment methods

The exam can take form in two alternative modalities (by choice of the students):

1) Oral exam. The exam will cover the topics discussed during the Course. The evaluation will be based on: the knowledge of the institutional profiles; ability in elaborate comparative analysis and arguments; ability to link different topics of the Course; ability to elaborate critical arguments; clarity and precision in the exposition.

2) Written exam. Students must write a paper (30000-35000 characters, spaces included), on a topic discussed during the Course. The deadline for the paper corresponds with the exams dates. Further details on the redaction of the paper on the personal webpage of the Professor.

3) For those who have actively attended the Course, the learning test is based on the quality of the presentation of paradigmatic case studies with respect to the topics of the Course.

The following criteria will be used to assign the final mark (that will be out of 30/30):

- knowledge of a very limited number of topics, extensive support by the interviewer to address and answer the questions, basic yet appropriate language à 18-19/30;

- knowledge of a limited number of topics, ability to autonomously address basic legal problems, use of appropriate language → 20-24/30;

- comprehensive knowledge of the programme, ability to autonomously and critically analyse legal problems, use of specific terminology → 25-29/30;

- extensive knowledge of the programme, ability to reason autonomously and critically analyse legal problems, make connections between the topics, ability to master the specific terminology and ability to present legal arguments. → 30-30L/30.

In case of disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), the Professor will settle a proper assessment method. 

Teaching tools

It is recommended the frequent consultation of the following websites:

- www.constituteproject.org/


-UNHCR - Statelessness Around the World [https://www.unhcr.org/statelessness-around-the-world.html]

- www.osce.org/hcnm

- www.coe.int/en/web/minorities/


- The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) [https://www.ecmi.de/]

-PERCEPTIONS - Analysing & understanding the perceptions of the EU [https://project.perceptions.eu/]


- www.legislationline.org/

- www.hrw.org/



- www.eurac.edu/it/research/autonomies/minrig/Pages/

- www.venice.coe.int/

- www.dpce.it/dpce-online/

- www.diritticomparati.it/

- www.giurcost.org/links/index.html

- www.internazionale.it/

- www.costituzionalismo.it/

- www.mpil.de/

- https://freedomhouse.org/

- www.constitutionaltransitions.org/

- www.verfassungblog.de/


Students who need compensatory measures and/or dispensative tools due to disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) should communicate it to the Professor as soon as possible in order to settle a proper approach to the course.

Office hours

See the website of Elena Ferioli