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European Union Politics and Policy


Admission requirements

This description is published for regular students bachelor Public Administration. For minor and exchange students there is a different page and description: European Union Politics and Policy (Minor PA). There are also specific working groups organised for minor, exchange and elective students.


The European Union is facing unprecedented challenges. Instead of the anticipated calm after the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU is faced with a lack of solidarity between North and South and an institutional struggle for finding new roles between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. External and internal economic instability and the inherent imbalance between the economies of the member states have destabilised the euro, the common currency shared by nineteen of the twenty seven member states and has put in several member states the question of an ‘exit’ on the table. Next to a financial and economic crisis, a health crisis, and a refugee crisis, a geopolitical crisis is unfolding at the borders of the EU, with rising tensions between the EU and Russia. More and more concerns are also raised on democratic backsliding in EU member states. In short, the EU is facing several crises to which it can either respond or, according to some commentators, slide into disintegration and economic stagnation.

It is especially important in such times to understand how the EU works and how the interaction between member states and institutions produces policy outcomes that affect every single citizen of the Union. The course builds on the first year course ‘Openbaar Bestuur en Bestuurswetenschap’ (Public Administration I) in which the European Union is introduced in the context of the internationalisation of governance structures in the Netherlands. Exchange and minor students without any previous knowledge on the EU are advised to consult the additional reading list and inform themselves on the basics of the institutional set-up of the European Union.

Course objectives

  • Students are able to describe the functions of the main EU institutions, the interactions between EU institutions in EU level decision making processes, new challenges and current issues of governance in the EU, new challenges and current issues with policy fields on which the EU is active, the union’s presence in the world and geographical expansion.

  • Students are able to describe and apply the most important theoretical approaches for explaining European integration.

  • Students are able to hold a structured debate with their peers on current issues of European integration.


On the right side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Lectures; working groups, self study. Attendance at working groups is compulsory for all students.

  • contact hours: 22 hours (7 weeks, 2 hrs per week lecture + 2 hours working group, 4 times.

  • examination: 5 hours

  • self-study hours: 113 hours (preparing for lectures, studying literature, preparing debates of working groups, preparation exam).

Students may not miss any of the working groups in which they have to debate for a grade, without a valid reason. If a student misses a working group in which the student should debate, without a valid reason, the student is excluded from further participation in the course.

Assessment method

Written examination with essay questions based on the readings and the lectures, 60% of the final grade; Group debates in the working group, 40% of the final grade.

Both components need to be sufficient to pass the course. A re-take is possible for both components. The retake of the written examination has the same format as the first opportunity, i.e. a written examination with essay questions based on the readings and the lectures. The retake of the group debates consists of a group reflection report based on the debates students participated in.

Students that want to take part in a resit are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.

Partial grades are only valid in the current academic year; partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

For further information about the University's exam rules please see: Rules and Regulations

Reading list

  • McCormick, J. (2020). European Union Politics. London: Red Globe Press.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration for courses in uSis is possible from 15 July, 13.00h. Registration for workgroups is possible from 9 August, 13.00h.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. Rik de Ruiter: