Course Description

The Summer School Animal Law, Rights and Representation offers an intensive programme of 5 days of lectures and workshops on different aspects of animal (rights) law. 

Students will dive into the emerging field of animal rights law from a transnational perspective. They will be familiarized with the basics of animal rights law, get to know about issues concerning the representation of animals in court, and study the transnational aspects of the law addressing animals. Moreover, they will get the chance to interact with practitioners and animal law scholars that will give guest lectures during the course, amongst which the directors of the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law. The aim is to give a comprehensive and critical overview of the relevant theories and laws addressing animals, including supranational, international, and national perspectives. 

Participants successfully completing the course will have a strong basis in animal rights law for their further careers.   

Day to day programme

Summer School Animal Law, Rights and Representation (Preliminary Programme)

In preparation for the summer school, students will receive a list of literature to read (required/optional reading).

DAY 1 -  Monday 19 August: Introduction to animal rights law

The first day aims to introduce you to the discipline of animal rights law. What is animal rights law, how does it relate the overarching field of ‘animal law’, and what are the main questions and topics covered? We will discuss the evolution of animal ethics from the Cartesian denial of animal sentience, until the scientific confirmation that animals as beings with feelings and emotions. We will look into the main differences and similarities between the utilitarian approach, the deontological approach, and the capabilities approach to animal rights. The different lenses will be applied to case studies to discover how they lead to different outcomes. Furthermore, a critical view on animal rights will be provided by a sceptic of animal rights. At the end of the day, you will be able to identify the main theories that have influenced our thinking about animal rights, apply these to real-life scenarios, and you will be able to link specific arguments for animal rights to a specific school of thinking.

Time schedule:

9.00 Registration and welcome

9.30-10.30 Session 1. Introduction to animal rights law

10.45-12:00 Session 2. Ethical and theoretical perspectives on animal rights

12:00-13:30 Lunch

13.30-15.00 Session 3. A critical view on animal rights (by Dr Van de Voorde, University of Antwerp)

15.15- 16.30 Workshop: The Great Debate

16:30-16.45 End of Day Quiz

Welcome drink

DAY 2 - Tuesday 20 August: The current legal paradigm and its shortcomings

On the second day, we will look into the existing laws addressing animals on the national, European and international level. Attention will go to the different legal regimes addressing animals in the wild, animals kept for production, and animals kept as companion. We will analyse the ratio legis of these laws: what is the underlying intention, and to what extent do they succeed to protect animals efficiently? A look into the history of animal protection instruments will show how the ratio legis developed over time to become increasingly less anthropocentric. We will take a comparative approach, assessing how the differences between legal systems lead to a different form of animal protection. Several guest lecturers will provide us with insights in the current legal regime at different levels, discussing animals’ legal status in private law, in EU law, and the international regime addressing wild animals. At the end of the day, you will have an extensive overview of the existing laws addressing animals and their shortcomings. Guest lectures will be given by, among others, Alice Di Concetto from the European Institute for Animal Law, prof Hendrik Schoukens and Dr Elien Verniers of the University of Ghent.

Time schedule

9.30-10.30 Session 4. The paradigm of animal welfare

10.45-12:00 Session 5. Wild animal law in the EU-context (by prof. Schoukens, Ghent University)

12:00-13:30 Lunch

13.30-15.00 Session 6. European animal law (by Alice Di Concetto, European Institute for Animal Law)

15.30- 17.00 Session 7. New legal instruments for animal welfare (by Dr Verniers, Ghent University)

17:00- 17.15 End of Day Quiz

DAY 3 - Wednesday 21 August: Legal theory and practice of animal rights

The focus of the third day is legal theory and case law. The legal status of animals stands central. Should animals be property or persons? Or something else? Guest lecturers will discuss the more technical aspects of legal personhood, explaining how we could regard it as a ‘bundle of incidents’ of which animals can possess some, but not all. We will discuss the differences between abolitionism and the more moderate approaches that regard animals as quasi-property, quasi-person. Apart from that, we will look into the feminist critiques on the traditional, binary way of thinking about the status of animals, and discuss some alternatives, such as ‘legal beingness’. We will look into the relation between human rights and animal rights, and discuss the various ways in which animal rights have been recognized by courts. By the end of the day, you will have extensive theoretical knowledge of the questions concerning animals’ legal status. What do we mean when we talk about ‘animal personhood’ or ‘fundamental animal rights’? How do animal rights relate to human rights, and how should they be balanced towards each other? How do animal rights fit in with our political system? Guest lectures will be given by, among others, Raffael Fasel of the University of Cambridge, and Marine Lercier of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Time schedule

9.30-10.30 Session 8. Legal theory of animal rights

10.45-12:00 Session 9. Human rights and animal rights (by Dr Fasel, University of Cambridge)

12:00-13:30 Lunch + preparation of session 10

13.30-15.00 Session 10. Animal rights in litigation & legislation

15.30- 17.00 Session 11. Political theory of animal rights (by Marine Lercier, Autonomous University of Barcelona)

17:00 End of Day Quiz

DAY 4 - Thursday 22 August: Animal Law in Action – MOOT COURT

The fourth day is structured around the Moot Court. First, we will look into the question of representation. How can animals be represented in court? We will define different models of animal representation, and hear from animal protection groups such as GAIA how they go about initiating cases for animal rights in Belgium. In the afternoon, we will have a Moot Court in which we will become animal lawyers ourselves, speaking for animals in court. By the end of the day, you will have a broad overview of the ways in which animals can be represented or become ‘plaintiffs’, parties to cases, and you will develop the skills of speaking as an animal lawyer yourself. This day is a collaboration with Ankita Shanker and Marine Lercier of the World Moot on International Law and Animal Rights, who will both be present and sit in the jury. See for more information the website of WMILAR,

Time schedule

9.30-11.00 Session 12. Representing Animals in Court (by Ankita Shanker, University of Basel).

11.00-15.00 Preparation of Moot Court

15.00-18:00 Moot Court (jury panel with Ankita Shanker and Marine Lercier)

DAY 5 - Friday 23 August: The Future of Animal Rights

On the last day, we will discuss the future perspectives. How will the law addressing animals develop in the future? Should we aim for an incremental approach, or a revolution? And how to design a future animal rights law? Some progressive examples will be discussed, such as the proposal for fundamental animal rights in the Finnish Constitution, the international conventions for animal rights that have been proposed, and the cases such as the ‘Estrellita’ case in which animal rights have been recognized already. We will recuperate and summarize some of the insights gained this week, and end with a discussion on the future of animal rights. We will bring all knowledge into practice in a workshop in which we will design new animal rights laws. We will take a look in the future and assess possible new directions in animal rights, such as the link with rights of nature and environmental law. Guest lectures will be provided by, among others, Sean Butler of the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law, and a representative of an animal protection organization (tbc).

Time schedule

9.30-11.00 Workshop. Designing animal rights laws (by Dr Sean Butler, University of Cambridge)

11.15-12:30 Session 13. Future perspectives on animal rights

14.00-15.15 Session 14. Animal rights in action: The role of animal protection organizations (by TBC)

15.30- 16.30 Session 15. Summary, wrap-up, final quiz and prizes

16:30 Closing drink + ceremony  

Target group

Third Bachelor and Master Students in Law. Participants should have at least completed 2 full years of education in a relevant field of study.  



This summer school takes place at Stadscampus (Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp) of the University of Antwerp. This campus is located in the city centre.

Study credits (ECTS)

3 ECTS credits will be awarded upon successful completion of the programme, including a written assignment to be submitted 2 weeks after the end of the Summer School. The assignment is only obligatory for those who like to obtain ECTS for the Summer School. All certificates of completion are issued as a micro-credential.

Social Programme

Participants will be able to get in touch with peers attending other summer/winter schools at Antwerp Summer and Winter University. A visit to the beautiful city hall, a networking reception, a guided city walk, a quiz night, a football game and a day-trip to another Belgian city such as Bruges or Brussels are only some examples of these activities. All activities of the social programme are offered free of charge, in some cases participants will be asked for a deposit which will be reimbursed upon participation to the activity.

Specific social activities in the days around and during the summer school on Animal Law, Rights and Representation will be announced close to the start of the programme.