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Regional Trends: The EU in World Politics


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Completion of a 200-level WP course, ideally from the same track.

Please note this courses was formerly titled: Regional Trends: EU and Its Neighbourhood.


This course is about the EU as foreign policy actor. The rational for this course starts with two premises concerning the teaching of EU foreign policy either within EU Studies or International Relations (IR). Firstly, students are mostly taught a version of IR that focuses on ‘high’ politics such as war, diplomacy and security. From this perspective the EU will (nearly) always fail to live up to expectations. Secondly, students are usually taught international politics from a geographical position that is centred on the West and/or Europe. There are of course other ways of the teaching IR and EU Studies that focus on ‘low’ politics of culture, economy, rights, and ideas. This is how most EU foreign policy courses are taught. Doing so cements the EU as the best model of regional integration that others must live up to (which they usually fail to do so).

This course however, aims to demonstrate that even when these premises underpin the teaching of IR, EU Studies and the scholarship on EU foreign policy, de-centring/decolonising the EU is necessary in order to understand world order and the EU’s place in it. The course provokes students to critically consider how the EU’s role as a regional and global actor bring into sharp relief the complicities and connections between high and low politics, Global North and South divides and the (post-) colonial relationships through considered borders. Borders are understood in many ways. They can be physical and represent the crossing where you enter one state and leave another. They can be invisible such as mobile service providers, or even imagined. Regardless, borders have served the specific purpose of keeping those out who are perceived as threats, acting as barriers against postnational, transnational and subnational forces, or simply to demonstrate sovereignty. Considering the way that the EU engages in bordering will be help us better understand its foreign policy. A further aim of the course is to mobilise these perspectives to explain the current shift in the global orders in a critical and imaginative manner.

Course Objectives

The course aims to provide a critical examination of EU foreign policy especially in its neighbourhood. In successfully completing this course, you will:

  • Understand the background to EU foreign policy, its relations with its neighbours and the EU’s position in world politics.

  • Develop your knowledge of the various approaches to the study of EU foreign policy within International Relations;

  • Gain an appreciation of current debates regarding decolonising and decentring knowledge produced in and about the EU;

  • Acquire familiarity with the practical aspects of EU foreign policy;

  • Develop skill to work as part of a team;

  • Improve written and oral presentation skills and your ability to communicate arguments to other students;


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. During the seminar, students are expected to take part in both in the seminar discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in a group project. This course will also include a fieldwork trip to Brussels to the EU External Action Services and European Commission. The role of the course instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion.

Assessment Method

Four elements of coursework constitute the final mark for the course:

  • In-class participation (19%)

  • Book review (31%)

  • Group project proposal (20%)

  • Group project (30%)

Reading list



Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Beatrix Campbell,