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PL50436: European union politics & policy-making

[Page last updated: 02 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: ES 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Essay (ES 100% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: A student who completes this unit successfully will be able to demonstrate a good understanding of:
* Theoretical approaches to and conceptual debates on policy-making in the EU and their practical application in different policy areas.
* The main policies being developed by the EU and the main objectives and instruments being utilized.
* the role and interrelationships between different political and territorial actors in the EU decision-process.
* Current and future dilemmas facing the EU as European integration progresses.

Aims: The aim of this unit is twofold. The first aim is to offer an analysis of the framework in which policy-making in the EU is set, focusing on the interaction between theories and policy development. All governments in the contemporary world have to contend with numerous constraints, which limit their realistic policy options, for instance, the forces of local cultural resistance and the logic of subsidiarity. This is even more true of the EU in that it has few of the attributes of government as traditionally understood, has to accommodate an enormously wide variety of national political cultures and is involved in a process of redefining both its governing processes and its internal identity and composition.
The second aim of the unit is to assess some of the major policy issues that confront the EU as it enters the 21st century. These include the social policy consequences of integration, the embryonic security and defence policy, the future of the CAP and the territorial redistribution of political power. The unit will not deal with the basic institutional processes of EU policy-making, with which it is assumed that students are already broadly familiar, or with external relations, which are covered in a different unit.

Skills: Skills in critical analysis, conceptual thinking, precision in the use of written and spoken language, exercise of independent judgment, reasoned argument, teamwork and the planning/conduct/reporting of non-quantitative research are taught and assessed in this unit. Skills in effective learning are developed in this unit.

Content: The first set of lectures examines theories of European integration and policy-making. Lectures in this part of the course include: Neofunctionalism and Liberal Intergovernmentalism; New Institutionalism; Multi-level Governance.
The second part of the Unit examines a number of key EU policies including the Common Foreign and Security Policy; the Common European Security and Defence Policy; Social Policy; Agricultural Policy; Regional Policy.
The course concludes by examining the crisis of the European Constitution and future challenges to European integration including Euroscepticism and Citizenship.

Programme availability:

PL50436 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • THPL-AFM16 : MA Contemporary European Studies: Politics, Policy and Society
  • THPL-AFM17 : MA Contemporary European Studies with Transatlantic Track (Euromasters)

PL50436 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
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