MA International Relations (Standard)

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Political Theory of the European Union

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI71191
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course unit aims to:


  1. Explore the political theory of the European Union by applying standards of normative assessment to the social, political and economic institutions that have formed at a supranational level in Europe
  2. Develop students’ research skills.
  3. Develop students’ capacities for collaborative work and group learning.

Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge and Understanding: Understand the key concepts in political theory (legitimacy, democracy, justice), gain detailed knowledge of the patterns of European integration and their normative significance.
  • Intellectual skills: understand the interplay of political, social, economic, social, and legal factors shaping European integration and evaluate them from the standpoint of normative political theory
  • Practical skills: develop further their research and argumentation skills through writing a ‘response comment’ and a research paper.
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities: design, plan and write a substantial research project in the form of a research essay.


Teaching and learning methods

  • Following a brief introductory session, the course will be taught on the basis of ten two hour seminars. The course will be taught around key readings.
  • Seminars will require active learning and participation by students both via plenary discussion and small group work. There will also be small group discussions (break-out rooms etc.) around core texts throughout the seminars, giving students the opportunity to engage in sustained philosophical discussions.

Assessment methods

Critical Reading Comment -Students write a short 'response' piece to one of four essential articles on the foundations of EU political theory discussed in weeks 1-4 800 words 20%   

Research Essay "The EU & Policy X: A normative assessment Students pick a domain of supranational integration or existing policy and use one  theoretical framework discussed in seminars to produce an original piece of research on what would render this policy or domain of integration more just/democratic-legitimate. 3200 words 80%


Recommended reading

General (Books):

  • Bellamy, Richard (2019.) A Republican Europe of States Cambridge: CUP
  • Delmas, Candice (2018) A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil Oxford: OUP
  • Streeck, Wolfgang (2014) Buying Time London: Verso

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Juri Viehoff Unit coordinator

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