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Structure & Functioning of the EU


Admission requirements

Required course:

  • Sovereignty and Statehood


This course offers an introduction to the legal framework of the European Union, often referred to as sui generis, meaning that it is unique in its characteristics as compared with other regional organizations. EU law is increasingly important for national legal systems. At the same time, the EU represents a fascinating case study of regional integration especially in the light of recent challenges that it is facing such as the government debt crisis, the refugee crisis and Brexit.

This course guides students through the establishment of the EU and development of EU law and policy since then. Relevant questions include: how is the EU organized and how does it function? Which institutions exist within the EU and what is their role? How do they react to recent challenges of European integration? What does EU law regulate and why? How does the European legal order interact with the domestic orders of its Member States? What is the position of individuals within EU law and how are their rights under EU law protected?

The course will focus on these institutional questions, helping students to critically assess the EU in its legal context. They zoom in on particular topics, such as decision making in law and in practice, judicial protection in the EU teaching students how to apply the general rules to specific case studies. The course will give students a platform for discussing the recent developments within the European Union.

This course may serve as a potential replacement for the course ‘Inleiding tot Europees Recht’ at Leiden Law School.

Course Objectives


  • Ability to apply the acquired knowledge to case studies

  • Ability to recognize and analyse situations in which EU law is applicable and can be used to solve legal problems

  • Ability to read and examine decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU, together with other sources of law, in order to build and support a legal argument

  • Ability to work with and solve a case study through the assignment

  • Ability to critically assess current topics, using knowledge about EU law and policy, so as to form a well-substantiated opinion in debates about the EU and its future


  • Basic knowledge of EU law and policy especially focusing on the constitutional development of the EU, its institutions, division of competences and decision making, characteristics of EU law (direct effect, primacy), remedies for individuals, enforcement mechanisms of EU law, recent challenges to the EU.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course aims to merge lectures with inputs from students in the form of discussions. Teaching will be online; if circumstances allow there can also be in-class meetings.

Assessment Method

  • Individual essay, 25%, Week 3

  • Individual written assignment, 25%, Week 5 [students work on a hypothetical case study in which they must apply the knowledge gained in the course]

  • Final exam, 40%

  • Class participation, 10%

Reading list

Catherine Barnard and Steve Peers (ed.), European Union Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press, latest edition (August 2020)


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, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Darinka Piqani, d.piqani@law.leidenuniv.nl