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Politics of the European Union

Module titlePolitics of the European Union
Module codePOC2125
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr David Benson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

European integration is one of the most dynamic political processes on a global scale. Since its inception in the early 1950s, the European Union has gradually evolved to become an important economic and political influence on its constituent Member States. This evolution can be explained in many ways but the module will primarily focus on three aspects. Firstly, it will provide an overview of key theoretical debates on European integration from early philosophical arguments on a "united Europe" to contemporary academic analyses. Secondly, the module will then apply these arguments to examine the historical development of the EU since the early 20th Century to the present. Finally, the module will discuss the potential future trajectory of European integration after Brexit and the Covid crisis, and what this may mean for both Europe and the wider world.

No prior knowledge skills or experience are required to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students. The module is suitable for students studying Politics and History.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to provide an introduction to European integration by presenting major concepts, theoretical debates, historical events and key academic texts. It also aims to link theoretical arguments to empirical examples through employing examples from the history of European integration. By undertaking the module, you will develop an understanding of what the European Union is, how it evolved and how it can be interpreted from different theoretical perspectives.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate knowledge of the history of the European Union through lectures, class discussion and submitted coursework;
  • 2. demonstrate knowledge of major theories of EU integration through lectures, class discussion and submitted coursework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. demonstrate the ability, through formative and summative coursework, to assimilate taught materials and utilise them to analyse European integration;
  • 4. demonstrate knowledge of major political theories and understanding of how to apply them to examples of political processes

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. research and write analytical essays
  • 6. formulate critical arguments; and
  • 7. communicate arguments effectively through written submissions.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction to European integration – what is ‘Europe’ and the European Union?
  • Major theories of European integration – federalism, neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism, the ‘governance’ turn and Europeanization
  • The historical development of the EU – early integration and the post-War federalist movement, the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community, the Single Market, Maastricht and the European Union, Single Currency, the Lisbon Treaty process, Brexit, the Covid crisis
  • Future developments – geo-political expansion (enlargement) and de-Europeanization, policy functions and potential challenges after the Covid crisis

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities2211 lectures of 2 hour duration
Guided Independent Study128Private study – students are expected to read suggested texts and make notes prior to seminar sessions. They are also expected to read widely to complete their coursework assignments. More specifically, students are expected to devote at least: 60 hours to directed reading; 6 hours to completing the formative research essay outline; Around 62 hours on completing the research essay.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research essay outline300 words1,2,4Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research essay1003000 words1-7Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research essayEssay (3000 words)1-7August/September Reassessment Period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • M. Cini and N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan (eds.) (2012, 2016) European Union Politics, Oxford University Press
  • J. Richardson (ed.) (2005) The European Union: Power and Policy Making, Routledge (2nd edition)
  • Wiener and T. Diez (2009) European Integration Theory, Oxford University Press (2nd edition)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

European Union, Integration

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date