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EU External Relations: the Neighbourhood and Beyond


Admission requirements

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


Famously described as an economic giant and a military dwarf, the EU has become an increasingly assertive actor in the international arena by relying on a host of non-coercive policy tools. Consequently, the scope, nature and effectiveness of EU external powers have generated a heated academic debate.

This course focuses on the external powers of the European Union, providing an overview of the different foreign policy tools available to EU institutions, ranging from trade and development policies to the European Neighbourhood Policy and military and civilian crisis management operations. By doing so, the class will debate some broader questions regarding the nature, drivers and implications of EU action, exploring what type of power the EU is and whether and to what extent its foreign policy is effective, consistent and democratically legitimate. Focusing on these questions will provide students with the possibility to analyse EU external policies from both an international relations and comparative politics perspectives, enhancing their understanding of the EU and international relations at large.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand and criticize the debate on EU external “actorness” and the nature of EU power

  • Identify the institutional actors involved in and the decision-making processes underlying different types of EU external policies

  • Assess the effectiveness and consistency of EU external action in different geographic and policy areas


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 140 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending seminars (attendance is compulsory): 4 hours per week x 6 weeks = 24 hours

  • Readings and presentation: 7 hours per week x 6 = 42 hours

  • Preparation for the paper: 74 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation: 20%

  • Presentation: 20%

  • Final Paper: 60%

    The final paper will only be marked if the student has attended the seminars.


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


Retake paper: resubmit three weeks after the grade has been made known. In order to be eligible for the retake paper, students have to have failed the course.

Exam review

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.


A reading list will be distributed at the start of the course.


Via uSis.


Dr. E.E.A. van Gils