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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Politics Short Name: POL501
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: USHERWOOD S Dr (Politics)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Autumn Semester
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment  

Weighting Towards Module Mark(%)

Essay (2000 words)


Essay (3000 words)


Qualifying Condition(s) 

A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module.


Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the European Union (EU). This starts with a development of an understanding of the historical roots of the integration process, which is essential in appreciating the institutional design of, and the theoretical approaches to, the EU. The second half of the module provides a number of perspectives on the EU’s operation, both in terms of actors and of policies. It concludes with some perspectives on the EU’s future development.

Module Aims
The main aims of this module are to:
  • Describe, analyse and understand the process of European political integration;
  • Provide a framework for studying this process in the light of theoretical perspectives and practical facets;
  • Identify patterns and trends in the development of the EU.
Learning Outcomes

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

Knowledge and understanding

  • identify and theorise on the main institutions and characteristic institutional features of the European Union, its principal policies and its likely development in the future.
  • have the fundamental knowledge necessary to progress further into the field of European Union politics.

Cognitive skills

  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources;
  • construct reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement;
  • reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback;
  • apply theoretical frameworks to policy/empirical analysis.

Practical skills

  • make appropriate use of information and communications technology
  • form effective arguments;
  • organise workload to meet deadlines.

Transferable skills

  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing;
  • work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management;
  • use information and communication technology for the retrieval and presentation of information including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information.
Module Content
  • Introduction: What is the EU? Basic concepts and heuristics.
  • The history of European integration since 1945. The post-1945 window of opportunity and the different paths to integration.
  • The EU’s institutional structure. Executive, legislative and juridical functions are each considered with relation to the EU’s institutions.
  • Theories of integration. Overview of the main theories of integration and their utility in helping describe and explain processes.
  • Actors in the EU. The role of member states and of citizens is explored, to develop the understanding of the EU as a political system.
  • Policy. Economic and political policies are presented, to expand on the idea of the EU as a significant policy provider in the European system. 
  • Future developments. Consideration is paid here to the impact of enlargements past and present on the nature of the EU and to the future challenges facing European integration in the short- and long-terms.
Methods of Teaching/Learning
Lecture and seminar.
Selected Texts/Journals


M. Cini & N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan, European Union Politics (3rd ed. Oxford University, 2007)
D. Dinan, Ever Closer Union. An Introduction to European Integration (3rd ed. Palgrave, 2005)
A. El-Agraa, The European Union (8th edn., CUP, 2007).
S. George & I. Bache, Politics in the European Union (2nd ed. OUP, 2006).
S. Hix, The Political System of the European Union (2nd ed, Palgrave, 2005)
N. Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union (6th ed., Palgrave, 2006)

H. Wallace, M. Pollack & A. Young, Policy-Making in the European Union (6th ed., OUP,

Last Updated

18 August 2010