nl en

Politics of the European Union, and Academic Skills



What is the European Union (EU)? Where does the EU come from? How are decisions taken at the EU level? What are the tasks of key EU institutions? This course covers the history, institutional framework, and main theories explaining the development of European integration. In addition, we will discuss current debates and events such as the EU’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Can the EU respond effectively to crises? Is the EU in decline? Questions and doubts about the principles and future of the European integration process have returned to the public domain. Well-known problems include the complex institutional setup, seemingly burdensome decision-making, the effectiveness of measures, or deficits in democratic accountability and legitimacy. The purpose of the course is to situate these debates in a proper historical, theoretical, and institutional context.

The course also includes academic skills’ working groups that focus on improving students’ ability to critically analyse political science research, and on understanding how studies undertaken on the same topic but using different theoretical and methodological approaches can be placed in dialogue with one another. The work groups will also focus on presentation skills.

Course Objectives

  1. Provide a systematic overview of the history of European integration, the functioning of EU institutions, and decision-making modes in different policy areas.
  2. Provide a basic introduction to key concepts and theories in European integration and how they can be applied.
  3. Familiarize students with concrete policy debates in response to recent crises in EU politics.
  4. Help students further develop the skills to analyse and evaluate multiple academic texts in a coherent, integrated, and thematic way.
  5. Help students further develop the skills to present their findings both orally (by giving a presentation) and in writing (through a review essay).

The course is organised around three main themes. First, students will learn about the history of European integration and discover the role of different EU institutions, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, or the Council of the EU. Second, the lectures will focus on the main concepts and theories of European integration and how they can explain decision-making processes. Third, we will address the main debates and developments related to European integration today, including the EU’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Course ECs and mode of instruction

This course has 8 EC, which correspond to 244 study hours. There are 12 lectures (equivalent to 24 hours in total) and 6 workgroup group sessions (equivalent to 12 hours in total). The remaining 208 hours should be spent completing the workgroup assignments and self-study.
Study material
Nugent, N (2017) The Government and Politics of the European Union, Palgrave Macmillan, 8th Edition [selected chapters].

Assessment Method

  • 60% written exam
    o 100% multiple choice (based on the lectures and the readings)

  • 40% workgroup assignments and participation
    o The final grade for the workgroups is the weighted average of a presentation (40% of the grade), a written assignment (40% of the grade), and a participation grade (counting for 20% of the grade).

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Brightspace no later than the publication of the grades.


See 'Practical Information'

Timetable - courses and exams

See 'MyTimetable'