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Citizen Representation in the European Union: Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

Participation in the seminar is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed (60 EC).


This seminar examines the mechanisms through which citizen representation works in the European Union (EU) and its institutions. We will begin by revisiting the essential theories and concepts in the study of representation. Here, we will discuss what it means to be represented, how electoral rules and other factors shape the quality of representative link, and what are the various forms and means of representation. We will then reflect on existing obstacles and opportunities for effective citizen representation in the EU given its institutional design and critical issues such as low turnout in the supranational elections, dynamics of domestic politics, diversity of citizens’ preferences, the politicisation of the EU and its policies, and the rise of Euroscepticism. Next, we will turn to the empirical literature and assess how and under what conditions the bureaucratic, party, parliamentary, and government elites in EU institutions react to public opinion across and within member states. At the end of the course, we will hold a debate on the quality of representation in the EU and the extent of its alleged democratic deficit. The seminar will equip students with theoretical insights and analytical tools to study representation in the EU and other political systems.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will:

  • Gain knowledge of the key concepts and current debates in the study of political representation

  • Be able to explain different channels and mechanisms of political representation in the EU

  • Get familiar with various methodological approaches used in the study of political representation

  • Develop a range of important transferrable skills:
    o Critical reading and discussion of academic texts
    o Debating and constructing convincing arguments supported by evidence
    o Application of theoretical knowledge to the real world
    o Effective communication in writing and orally
    o Group communication techniques

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Grade component:
1. Continuous assessment

  • Encounter (short individual presentations connecting students’ real-life experiences and seminar discussions) 15%

  • Debate 20%

  • In-class participation and assignments 20%

  1. Final examination
  • Creative project (group assignment) 45%

Mode details will be included in the syllabus. Please note that it is not possible to retake any of grade components.

Reading list

A selection of journal articles and book chapters, announced on Brightspace. The detailed reading list is part of the syllabus and will be available before the start of the course.


See 'Practical Information'

Exchange students: you must have taken at least 90 EC in Political Science and/or International Relations to be admitted to this course.


See 'MyTimetable'


Aleksandra Khokhlova