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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 and non-state actors 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? Should we and if so 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 has two main components. On the one hand, we focus on the key conceptual, historical and theoretical dimensions to understanding regionalism around the world. On the other hand we will apply this conceptual, historical and theoretical knowledge in a more practical setting of role plays 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 examination of the development of regionalism across the world. Students will compare and contrast a variety of regional approaches to key issues and policies, adopting different levels of analysis. Students will also acquire a foundational knowledge of historical issues and theoretical approaches to understand regionalism today. 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 and regionalization.

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

  • Compare regional approaches across the world, whilst remaining sensitive to local contexts

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


Students are also allowed to register for the EUS seminars of this course. Make sure there are no clashes in your timetable.

Mode of instruction

This module is taught through 2-hour seminar sessions that are supplemented by knowledge clips.
The knowledge clips provide an introduction to the key issues we will be discussing every week. Students should be aware that most of their work must be done outside the seminars, which should function as an opportunity to exchange ideas about the subjects under study.
All students MUST:

  • Attend 12 x 2-hour seminars;

  • Contribute to seminar discussions and debates every week;

  • Create, organize and run a role play session

  • Write 1 assessed final research paper of up to 2,000 words (including endnotes and appendices, excluding bibliography), addressing the topic of the role play they were involved in preparing.

Course Load

  • 12x2 hour Seminars = 24 hours (attendance is compulsory)

  • Reading and class preparation, including watching weekly knowledge clips = 66 hours (5,5 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • Group Role-play preparation = 20 hours (per student)

  • Final research paper = 30 hours
    Total: 140 Hours for 5 ECTS

Assessment method

  • 20% Participation (attendance, in class participation)

  • 20% Participation (chairing a role play session)

  • 20% Group assignment paper (1 x 5,000 word Role play overview document+appendixes);

  • 40% Final paper (1 x 2,000 word research paper)


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.

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 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.


Your seminar professor.