Please note that module information is indicative and may change year to year.
This module focuses on the history, institutions, actors and policies of the European Union (EU) from its beginnings in the aftermath of the Second World War to its most recent developments to tackle the challenge of the economic and financial crisis. This prepares students for the final year core courses on European Political Economy, European Political Thought, the European Union in the International System and Representative Government in Europe. The complex workings of EU institutions, their historical development, the role of interest groups and political parties, the EU policy-making system and output will all be analysed.
The module is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the historical development of European integration from WW2 through to the present days and provides an assessment of the origins and nature of the idea of European integration, how it unfolded over time, and what factors fostered or impeded its consolidation. We will then consider the main theoretical perspectives in the study of European integration and the key institutions of the EU: the European Council and the European Commission, with executive functions, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, which are its ‘legislative chambers’, and the European Court of Justice. Finally, we will critically reflect on the democratic legitimacy of the EU political system.
The second part focuses on the key actors and policies of the EU, addressing a number of issues that the EU faces today. We will analyse first interest groups and political parties, reflecting on their role as representative agents and their impact on the EU decision-making. We then explore a wide range of EU policies including economic and monetary union, EU budget, common agricultural policy, cohesion and structural funds, environmental and social policy, justice and home affairs, foreign and defence policy. Finally, we will deal with enlargement policy and the broader debate on widening vs deepening integration. In doing so students will gain an understanding of how, why and to what extent policy competences have been transferred to the EU- level.
1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar weekly
Module assessment - more information
One 2000 word essay (15%, submitted November), one 2000 word essay (25%, submitted January) and one 3-hour exam during period 2 examinations.