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Regionalism in World Politics



The course is only open to students who are admitted to the MA International Relations.


Regionalism has become a defining feature of international relations, but why do states around the world feel the ‘urge to merge’? How have states led the process of creating regional institutions and what has inhibited the development of regionalism around the world? Why do some actors adopt a more formal, legalistic approach to regional institutional building, whilst others prefer more elastic and informal arrangements? How can we distinguish between old and new regionalism in a globalized political economy? How are regional groupings socially constructed to include certain actors at the expense of others? How are external actors involved in regional issues and how does regional cooperation contribute to global governance? How can such complex developments be theorized so that they may be compared? This course explores these questions in order to compare and contrast the dynamic processes of regionalism around the world today.

Though regional institution building has become a global trend, regionalism has evolved in different ways. It is therefore imperative to explore the various factors, be they historical, geopolitical, cultural or other, that have influenced the development of regionalism around the world. Only by comparing the process of regionalism around the world can we understand the richness and diversity of this central trend in global politics. Comprehending the diversity of regional institution building can enable us to explore how regional groupings address specific issues in different ways.

The course is divided into two main sections. In the first half of the course, we focus on the key conceptual, historical and theoretical dimensions to understanding regionalism around the world. We will apply this conceptual, historical and theoretical knowledge in the second half of the course where we will concentrate on the multidimensional aspects of regional issues, the role of external actors in regional problems, and the relationship between regionalism and global governance. Each week we will examine a different case study to build a picture of regional approaches to world politics.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical comparison of the development of regionalism across the world. Students will compare, contrast, critique, and apply a variety of regional approaches to key issues and policies in global politics. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the complex issues and processes related to the development of regionalism around the world.

  • Apply complex conceptual tools to analyze key events in and processes related to regionalism.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts and approaches on comparative regionalism, and lead class discussions.


Students of the MAIS specialisation are also allowed to register for the EUS seminars of this course (during the September semester only). Make sure there are no clashes in your timetable.

Mode of instruction

In addition to the seminars, parts of the course will be taught using enquiry-based learning, incorporating independent study, prescribed reading, group discussion, presentations.

Course Load

  • 12*2 hour Seminars = 24 hours (attendance is compulsory)

  • Research essay = 20 hours

  • Weekly readings, groups assignments and preparation (12*8 hours) = 96 hours

Assessment method

  • 40% Participation (attendance, in class participation and presentation)

  • 20% Group assignment paper (1*1,500 word paper)

  • 40% Final paper (1*3,500 word research essay)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


A resit opportunity is available for papers that receive an insufficient grade at the first attempt.


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (powerpoints, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on Blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

Students will find the following book useful to prepare for the course and for their assessments:

Söderbaum Fredrik, 2015, Rethinking Regionalism, Palgrave MacMillan.


via uSis.


The co-ordinator of studies