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External Economic Relations


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master International Relations, track European Union Studies.


Given the erratic and uneven development of its foreign and security policies, the EU has often been disparagingly described as “an economic giant, but a political dwarf” on the global stage. But market power is rarely apolitical. The EU has been playing a significant role in shaping the rules of international trade and global public policy; in more recent years it has ever more explicitly used trade agreements to pursue broader policy goals from human rights and development to security and climate-related issues. But while some observers have welcomed these efforts to add a more normative dimension to trade, others have decried them as either ineffective or, worse, as hypocritical and protectionist.

In this course, we will analyse the components and uses of EU’s trade power. In doing so, we will attempt to answer the following questions: How are the EU’s external policies designed? Which institutions, ideas, and interests are responsible for the way they look today? How much influence have the EU’s policies had in different domains, and how is this influence perceived by other actors?

The first part of the course builds a foundation for this analysis by examining changes in the world economy and EU’s place in it, the architecture of global trade agreements and the politics of EU policy-making. The second part of the course will apply these lessons to the ongoing issues in the EU’s expanding trade agenda, including the more traditional concerns of tariffs and market access as well as the contemporary challenges of regulatory harmonization, state-investor disputes, privacy and digital trade, environmental protection, economic development, social and labour rights, and security.

The course will combine interactive lectures and seminars with practical exercises and case studies of specific agreements.

Course objectives

The course is designed to provide students with tools to understand and analyze EU external relations from both academic and policy perspectives. On the academic side, the students will learn how to apply key concepts from theories of International Relations and International Political Economy to the ongoing debates around EU external policies. On the policy side, the students will acquire a solid knowledge of specific policy initiatives and learn to assess them critically from different actors’ viewpoints. The course also offers students a chance to practice concrete skills such as teamwork, negotiation, presentation and digital media skills, research and writing.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

Assessment method

  • Group presentation/knowledge video 20%

  • Class participation 20%

  • Research outline and literature review (1500-2000 words) 20%

  • Final paper (2500-4000 words) 40%


The final mark for the course is a weighted average of component grades. Please bear in mind that you must pass all components of the class in order to earn a passing grade.


Resit is only available for the final paper. In case of failing the paper, students may resubmit three weeks after they receive the grade.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

For a detailed reading list please see the syllabus.


EEnrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable