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Themes in European Integration (PO238)

The European Union (EU) is the principal instrument of integration in post Second World War Europe. This has had a profound effect upon the European states system, and the place of Europe within the global order. This module explores the nature of European integration from both theoretical and empirical vantage points. It analyses the historical evolution of European integration, its governance processes, its internal policies and its external relations, as well as the main challenges the Union faces today.

What kind of polity is the EU? How is the EU transforming the political systems of its 28 component member states? Why and how does the EU accept new member states? How does the EU project itself and influence the global environment? To what extent can the EU be considered an effective international actor? Can the EU be democratic? Should we be concerned if it isn't? What are the dynamics behind referendums on EU-related issues? Last but not least, why did the British public vote to leave the European Union?

The course will end with a simulation, of an EU Council summit among member states and the EU Commission. The summit will deal with urgent questions such as the migrant crisis, the ‘Brexit’, and two-speed Europe.

Programme content

The course is designed to develop a thorough and critical understanding of the origins and developments of the EU, the main theoretical approaches to European integration, and the important issues and dilemmas of the integration process such as enlargement, democratic deficit, and the ‘Brexit’.

Students should be able to demonstrate an appreciation of the historical context of European integration and the significance of the EU, critically discuss the characteristics of the EU’s governance framework, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the key theoretical debates in European integration. Students should also, by the end of the course, have developed their presentation skills, research skills, and their ability to work independently and as part of a group.

Case studies will highlight key issues facing the contemporary EU, including the recent financial and migrant crises in Europe, enlargement, security and defence policy, democratic deficit, failed referendums on EU treaties and the ‘Brexit’ referendum. Analysis of these issues will enable you to appreciate the complex nature of European integration and the challenges of the EU within the existing global environment.


Module Director:


Sample reading list (PDF Document)


This module is worth 30 CATS