Jamal Shahin » Teaching » AA7828: The Contemporary EU

AA7828: The Contemporary EU Syllabus Autumn 2011


The online version of this document (entitled: AA7828: The Contemporary EU), available from this link is considered to be the official version of this document.

Course description

The course provides an introduction to political science theories that influence contemporary studies of the European Union.

It begins by examining different theoretical issues in dominant political science theory, particularly those that concern the role of the state and the EU in contemporary politics. These include democracy and legitimacy, governance and bureaucracy, and institutions and ideas. The second half of the course examines a number of domains in which these concepts and insights can be brought to a greater understanding of the European Union and its activities.

Throughout, the module will have a particular focus on using methods and approaches from the disciplines of politics and international relations to explain the EU. Through this linking of theory and practice between the first and second half of the course, students will be encouraged to discuss current political problems critically and analytically. Transferable skills will be a crucial part of this course, including use of group work. The entire course will attempt to ensure collaborative learning between students.

Course objectives

The aims of the module are:

Text and readings

Core texts are:

The two books for this course are available from The Athaneum, Spuistraat.

Time and place of class

Generally, classes are held every Thursday between 3pm and 6pm, in room PCH104. See the schedule (below) for more information. Classes will have a break halfway through of 15 minutes. Time will be allocated for the lecture, group work, and student presentations (where appropriate).


In addition to the office hours and other means of communication, I am available primarily through email for queries about the course. Please put [TCEU] at the beginning of your subject heading if your email relates to the course. Failure to do so may delay our responses to your question.

Preparation for class and attendance

Class attendance and participation are vitally important because of the organisation of the course. We shall take attendance and note your degree of preparation and participation. Absence or failing to read the material requested will be noted and may influence your grade negatively.

Students are required to participate in one group presentation during the course.

In class, we shall make no attempt to cover all the material in the reading lists. We shall use the limited time available in a flexible way to try to ensure that central concepts are understood. Contact time will also be used to encourage discussion and development of your own ideas. Students are strongly encouraged to come to the classroom with their own ideas for discussion.


Your final grade for the course will be calculated on the following weighting:

Discussion paper20%
Individual essay35%
Presentation and overall participation15%
Final Exam30%

Written work

During the course, you will be expected to submit two pieces of work. The first - collaboratively written - piece (“discussion paper”) will be approximately 3500 words long (10% margin allowed in both cases), and the individual essay will be a minimum of 2800 words. Your topics can be self-selected, but you must have written confirmation at least two weeks in advance of the deadline that the selected topic is acceptable. The topic of your individual essay cannot be the exactly the same as that of your group work.

The discussion paper is supposed to provide insight into your chosen topic, and also provide information about the role of the EU in this area. A simple description (aka a wikipedia-esque description) is adequate but not necessarily ideal: you should try to formulate an argument about the ‘effectiveness’ of the EU in your chosen area through the description you provide. It should cover overall context of the issue, the role of the EU (and its institutions), and then a reflection on the ‘effectiveness’ of the EU.

The discussion paper must have presentation material attached to the online version. The grade for the discussion paper will be determined from this online version: a printed copy is not necessary and will not be used to grade the final piece of work. Use of multimedia tools (slides, design of a website, video, etc) is encouraged in the discussion paper submission, however the essay will be the principal consideration in grading your work.

Cooperation (cheating or plagiarism) between students on the writing of the individual essays is not allowed i.e. you cannot use material submitted for the discussion paper as part of your individual essay.

The individual essay should be submitted on or before the date specified in the syllabus, in the lecturer’s (Shahin) in tray next to the European Studies Secretariat (PCH 648). If you will not be able to submit written work on time, we expect to be notified in advance or as soon as possible. Requests for additional time must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or university official.

The penalty for late written work is 0.5 grade-points per day, beginning immediately after the deadline specified below. Computer, transport, and/or printer problems are not a valid excuse for handing in work late. Essays overdue for more than one week will not be accepted. Personal problems are only accepted with medical certificate or documentation from a university official.

Documents submitted on paper should conform to the following rules: A4, printed on both sides of the page, with single line spacing. The pages in the document should be attached together in the top left hand corner with a single staple; no binding and no plastic coverings should be used. Only one copy should be provided.

A digital copy of all submissions should be provided to the lecturer through Blackboard (‘Ephorus assignment’ for the individual essay), in either RTF, PDF or DOC(X) format. This electronic document should be identical to the printed copy.


There will be one examination at the end of the course. You shall be required to answer three questions from a list of five. You shall have two hours to complete the exam. To achieve a good grade in the exam, you should:

Examinations should be taken at the date specified. If you will not be able to take an examination, we expect to be notified in advance or as soon as possible. Use of the retake examination option is discouraged unless absolutely necessary.

Presentation and overall participation

Prior to the beginning of each lecture, an attendance register will be taken.

During the course, you will be expected to present your group’s discussion paper to the entire class. You shall receive a grade for this presentation. This will take into consideration the following aspects of your presentation:

Written feedback will be provided to each group, if requested.

You will also receive an individual grade for overall participation in the course. This will relate to your willingness to engage with reading and lecture materials, and your ability to address questions to your peers during their presentations.

Suggested readings

In addition to the core texts, here is a list of suggested reading. Not all the reading suggested below is compulsory, and many, many things are not included in this list. However, you are advised to use some of this material along with others you find during your investigations. You should familiarise yourself with the European Commission’s Prelex web-based database, which provides access to most Commission Communications. Furthermore, European Council Presidency Conclusions will be very important to your research. These can be generally found at http://ue.eu.int/. Use of the UvA’s digital library is strongly encouraged. You are strongly recommended to read The Economist amongst other news magazines and newspapers such as The Financial Times.

  1. Collard-Wexler, Simon (2006) ‘Integration Under Anarchy: Neorealism and the European Union.’ European Journal of International Relations. 12(3): 397-432.
  2. Croci, Osvaldo (2003) ‘A Closer Look at the Changing Transatlantic Relationship.’ European Foreign Affairs Review. 8: 469-491.
  3. Crowe, Brian (2003) ‘A common European foreign policy after Iraq?’ International Affairs. 79(3): 533-46.
  4. Dinan, Desmond (1999) Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  5. Goddard, Stacie E, and Daniel H Nexon (2005) ‘Paradigm Lost? Reassessing Theory of International Politics.’ European Journal of International Relations. 11(1): 9-61.
  6. Guzzini, Stefano (2000) ‘A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(2): 147-82.
  7. Hirst, Paul, and Grahame Thompson (1996) Globalization in Question: The international economy and the possibilities of governance. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  8. Hoffmann, Stanley (2000) ‘Towards a Common European Foreign and Security Policy?’ Journal of Common Market Studies. 38(2): 189-198.
  9. Kaldor, Mary (2003) ‘The idea of global civil society.’ International Affairs. 79(3): 583-593.
  10. Keohane, Robert (1989) International Institutions and State Power: Essays in International Relations Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview.
  11. Keohane, Robert, and Joseph Nye (1974) ‘Transgovernmental Relations and International Organisations.’ World Politics. 27(1): 39-62.
  12. Marsh, Steve and Hans Mackenstein (2005) The International Relations of the European Union. Harlow: Pearson.
  13. Mearsheimer, John (1990) ‘Back to the Future: Instabillity in Europe After the Cold War.’ International Security. 15(1): 5-56.
  14. Menon, Anand (2004) ‘From crisis to catharsis: ESDP after Iraq.’ International Affairs. 80(4): 631-48.
  15. Oberthür, Sebastian, and Thomas Gehring (2004) ‘Reforming International Environmental Governance: An Institutionalist Critique of the Proposal for a World Environment Organisation.’ International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 4359-81.
  16. Ortega, Martin, Valérie Arnould, Sven Biscop, Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, and Richard Gowan (2004) Barth Eide, Espen, eds. Global Europe. The Foreign Policy Centre, British Council, European Commission.
  17. Peterson, John and Margaret Sharp (1998) Technology Policy in the European Union. London: Macmillan Press.
  18. Pollack, Mark (2001) ‘International Relations Theory and European Integration.’ Journal of Common Market Studies. 39: 221-44.
  19. Reinicke, Wolfgang (1998) Global Public Policy: Governing without government? Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.
  20. Ronit, Karsten (2001) ‘Institutions of Private Authority in Global Governance: Linking Territorial Forms of Self-Regulation.’ Administration and Society. 33: 555-78.
  21. Rosamond, Ben (2000) Theories of European Integration. London: Macmillan Press.
  22. Rosamond, Ben (1999). ‘Discourses of globalization and the social construction of European identities.’ Journal of European Public Policy. 6: 652-68.
  23. Ruggie, John (1993) ‘Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations.’ International Organization. 47(1): 139-74.
  24. Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge.
  25. Sandholtz, Wayne and Alec Stone Sweet (1998) European Integration and Supranational Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  26. Schimmelfennig, Frank (2000) ‘International Socialization in the New Europe:: Rational Action in an Institutional Environment.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(1): 109-39.
  27. Jan Aart Scholte (2004) ‘Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance,’ Government and Opposition 39:2: 211-233.
  28. Smith, Karen E. (2003) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  29. Stone Sweet, Alec, Wayne Sandholtz and Neil Fligstein (eds.) (2001) The Institutionalization of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  30. Wallace, Helen, William Wallace, and Mark Pollack (eds) (2005) Policy-Making in the European Union. Fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  31. Warleigh, Alex (2006) ‘Learning from Europe? EU Studies and the Re-thinking of ‘International Relations’.’ European Journal of International Relations. 12(1): 31-51.

The following literature should also be considered (as ‘light reading’):

  1. Ferguson, Niall (2005) Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. London: Penguin Books. (Particularly the chapters on EU)
  2. Leonard, Mark (2005) Why Europe will run the 21st Century. London: 4th Estate.
  3. Patten, Chris (2005) Not Quite the Diplomat. London: Allen Lane.
  4. Rifkind, Jeremy (2004) The European Dream. Cambridge: Polity Press

Course schedule

Two lecturers, Jamal Shahin (JS) and Katja Biedenkopf (KB), will provide support for this course.

Week 1 (JS/KB): Introductory Lecture: 8 September (3pm - 5pm)

Week 2 (JS): Lecture and group work: 15 September

Instructions for filling in the spider diagram:

  1. Pick ten policy areas of EU activity.
  2. List them down the right hand side of the page
  3. Give each policy area a score from 0 - 10, relating to the influence that the EU plays on national-level policymaking in each policy area. (0 = no influence, 10 = complete influence).
  4. Two policy areas can have the same score.
  5. Plot these scores on the spider diagram (10 being the outermost, 0 being the centre).
  6. Join the points together with straight lines, and shade the internal area of the diagram.
  7. Bring it to class in week 3.

Week 3 (NO CLASS): Group work: 22 September

Week 4 (JS): Lecture and group work: 29 September

Week 5 (JS): Lecture and group work: 6 October

Week 6 (JS): Lecture and group work: 13 October

Week 7 (KB): Lecture and group work: 20 October


Week 9 (JS): Lecture and group work: 3 November

Group Submission of discussion paper online, via email to shahin@uva.nl. Deadline will be 14h exactly on 4 November!

Week 10 (KB): Lecture and group work: 10 November

Week 11 (KB): Lecture and group work: 17 November

Week 12: Lecture (JS) and presentations: 24 November

Week 13: Presentations: 1 December

Week 14: Presentations: 8 December

Week 15: Presentations and ‘responsiecollege’: 15 December

Submission of final paper in hard copy format by 14h45 in pigeonhole outside PCH648. Please see submission requirements in the section “Written work” above.

EXAM - double check on http://rooster.uva.nl/ please!

10 January: 1pm-3pm. Location: Tentamenzaal USC Sporthal 1 Sciencepark

Retake Exam

2 February: 1pm-3pm. Location: PCH1.04


Please make use of the following documents:

Lecture Slides