module specification

GI5064 - The Politics of the European Union (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title The Politics of the European Union
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
114 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay, 1,500
Coursework 50%   Policy evaluation - 1,500 words
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module has three principal aims:
1. It will explore the historical origins of the EU and its predecessor bodies in the first two decades after WWII.
2. What agents and factors facilitated such a innovative development in European political history?
3. It will explore the political character of the Union. What sort of organisation is it in political terms? How democratic is it?
4. It will examine its principal policy outputs, including economic, monetary, social and foreign policies

The purpose is for students to gain a better understanding of the nature, inner workings, development, objectives and impact of a major regional organization which, since Brexit, is the biggest political, economic and military neighbour of the UK. This module thus not only helps students get a better sense of the EU, but also will allow them to understand better domestic political developments and the future course of economic and strategic policy of the UK, since these inevitably respond to developments in the EU.

In terms of applied policies, and especially the EU’s place in the world, the module will introduce students to critical perspectives concerning the rooting of European integration in post-imperial and post-colonial dynamics in European history after World War II, and invite them to reflect whether these still inform the EU’s actions and self-perception.

This is a module with a major professional payoff, not only in terms of developing crucial professional skills (research, writing etc.), but also in terms of introducing students to the workings of an expansive organization that provides many professional opportunities for politics graduates, whether in Brussels (for EU citizens) or in the UK for those analysing EU policies for government, think tanks, the private sector and universities.

Prior learning requirements

None; Available for Study Abroad Students


The syllabus will include:

1. The historical evolution of the EU from its foundation to today (LO 1)
2. Conceptualising the EU: What is the nature of the beast (LO 2)
3. Democracy and the European Union (LO 3)
4. The Principal Policies of the EU: Common market; monetary union; common agricultural policy; movement and migration; foreign and defence policy (LO 4)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module will be taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars. It will also exploit weblearn to deliver materials (reading, seminar materials, video material, feedback) which can support seminar work and the independent learning of students. Both lectures delivered by the tutor and the independent work conducted by students, especially towards the policy evaluation assessment, will have a strong relevance for employability, introducing students to the processes and inner workings of EU negotiations and exposing them to the details of specific areas of policymaking.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module students will:

1. Possess a firm grasp of the political and economic factors that have shaped the historical evolution of the European Union
2. Gain a capacity to evaluate critically competing formal explanatory theories of European integration
3. Understand and critique the conceptual debates concerning the political nature of the EU
4. Gain a knowledge and understanding of the nature and significance of its principal policy responsibilities and the ways in which they have reshaped European politics and economics.

Assessment strategy

There will be two pieces of summative assessment on this module:

1. 1,500-word essay, drawn from a list of essay titles

2. 1,500-word policy evaluation. Students will have to select an area of EU policy and describe its development and evaluate its nature and significance in relation to the EU as a whole, as well as in terms of negotiations between member-states. Policy areas to be specified by tutor.