European Union Foreign Policy

Module titleEuropean Union Foreign Policy
Module codePOL2084
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Irene Fernandez-Molina (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module introduces you to the unique nature of the EU as a ‘strange superpower’ in international relations which simultaneously acts as an international sub-system, a foreign policy system and an international actor. You will develop an understanding of the hybrid institutional and political shaping of EU foreign policy, and critically situate the latter within the academic debates on the EU’s roles in international politics, the Europeanisation of EU member states’ foreign policies and the EU’s contribution to conflict resolution. Building on this basis, you will become acquainted with the main geographical and issue areas of EU foreign policy, ranging from the enlargement policy and the European Neighbourhood Policy to transatlantic relations with the United States and strategic partnerships with emerging powers such as Russia and China. The EU’s relations with the developing world and involvement in multilateral global governance will also be examined.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Introduce you to the unique nature of the EU in international relations and the academic debates on its international actorness and roles
  • Familiarise you with the key institutional actors and instruments of the EU’s foreign policy and external action

Provide you with an overview of the main areas of EU foreign policy, including a critical assessment of the objectives, performance and inherent contradictions of various policies

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Critically analyse the role of the EU in international relations and situate this discussion within the academic literature
  • 2. Distinguish among the key institutional actors and instruments of the EU’s foreign policy and external action
  • 3. Map the main geographical and issue areas of EU foreign policy, understanding the respective backgrounds and challenges

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Demonstrate a good understanding of theoretical concepts/approaches and connect them to empirical case studies
  • 5. Critically analyse secondary source material from both academic literature and policy-oriented papers, as well as press articles
  • 6. Deploy logical and critical arguments in analysing political issues

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Demonstrate analytical skills and the ability to digest, select and organise material according to suggested guidelines
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to organise one’s work and produce well organised and coherent essays to a deadline
  • 9. Demonstrate oral communication and presentational skills in group discussions and presentations
  • 10. Demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

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:


  1. The EU in international relations; evolution of the EU as an international actor
  2. The hybrid nature, actors and instruments of the EU’s foreign policy external action: intergovernmental and communitarian dimensions, external dimension of home affairs
  3. Theorising EU foreign policy and EU role concepts as an international actor
  4. The Europeanisation of national foreign policies
  5. The EU and conflict resolution
  6. EU enlargement as foreign policy and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
  7. The eastern dimension of the ENP
  8. The southern dimension of the ENP and region-building in the Mediterranean: Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Union for the Mediterranean
  9. Transatlantic relations with the United States
  10. Strategic partnerships and emerging powers: Russia and China
  11. Relations with the developing world: the ACP group
  12. The EU’s role in multilateral global governance: UN, WTO, IMF and climate governance

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 and Teaching Activity16.511 x 1.5 hour lectures to be supplemented by student group work where students learn from each other through group discussions, individual and collaborative presentations and a simulated negotiation exercise.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity1010 x 1 tutorials
Guided Independent Study 123.5Independent study: 60 hours reading for tutorials; 10 hours team discussions; and 53.5 hours reading and completing assignments.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation on essay topic5 minutes1-9Oral
Contributions to class discussions1-9Oral

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
Essay502,000 words1-9Written
Examination501.5 hours1-10Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (2000 words)1-9August / September re-assessment period
ExaminationExamination (1.5 hours)1-10August/ September re-assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Cameron, F. (2012) An Introduction to European Foreign Policy (2nd ed.) (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Elgström, O. and M. Smith (eds.) (2006) The European Union’s Roles in International Politics: Concepts and Analysis (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Hill, C. and M. Smith (2011) International Relations and the European Union (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Jørgensen, K.E. (ed.) (2009) The European Union and International Organizations (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Keukeleire, S. and T. Delreux (2014) The Foreign Policy of the European Union (2nd ed.) (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan).

Smith, M.E. (2004) Europe’s Foreign and Security Policy: The Institutionalization of Cooperation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Smith, K.E. (2014) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World (3rd ed.) (Cambridge: Polity).

Telò, M. (ed.) (2001) European Union and New Regionalism (Farnham/Burlington: Ashgate).

Tocci, N. (2007) The EU and Conflict Resolution: Promoting Peace in the Backyard (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Whitman, R. and S. Wolff (eds.) (2012) The European Union as a Global Conflict Manager (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Wong, R. and C. Hill (eds.) (2011) National and European Foreign Policies: Towards Europeanization (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

European External Action Service website:

Exploring EU Foreign Policy:

European Foreign Affairs Review:

European Council on Foreign Relations:

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Europe:

EU Observer:


EU Neighbourhood Info Centre:

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

European Union, foreign policy, external relations, international actorness, Europeanisation, conflict resolution

Credit value15
Module ECTS


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date