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The Contemporary European Union: Process and Policies Syllabus Autumn 2013: Semester 1, Blocks 2 and 3


The online version of this document (entitled: The Contemporary European Union: Process and Policies), 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 is open to all students of the Faculty of Humanities, and is to be taken as a 12 ECTS module spanning over Blocks 2 and 3 in the first semester.

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 are framed in the concepts of democracy and legitimacy, governance and bureaucracy, and institutions and ideas. The emphasis will be on contemporary discussions: you are expected to come to class with points for discussion relating to contemporary issues. Throughout, the course will have a particular focus on using methods and approaches from the disciplines of politics and international relations to explain the EU.

The first eight week focus mainly on the processes driving the EU. The latter four weeks will guide us through various policies in detail: this will enable students to develop in-depth knowledge and competence concerning a number of policy domains. These will be selected from the following topics:

Students will work in groups, towards elaboration of their discussion paper (delivered in Block 2) into a 20 minute presentation, with at least ten minutes of Q&A afterwards. Presenting and discussion skills will be evaluated. Throughout the entire course, students will be encouraged to discuss current political problems critically and analytically during the interactive lectures. Transferable skills are a crucial part of this course, particularly the second part of this course is group work-intensive. The entire course will attempt to ensure collaborative learning between students, and will also encourage you to use new ICT-based tools. Course deliverables D4, 5, and 7, along with other contributions will be posted on the course wiki, or ‘online policy database’.

Course objectives

Text and readings

Core texts are:

Time and place of class

In Block 2, classes are held every Wednesday 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). Immediately after the class, the Jean Monnet Roundtables will begin. Your presence is highly appreciated at these five events, which will take place in Blocks 2 and 3. A register will be taken.

In Block 3, two workshop groups will meet. The group allocation will depend upon the choice of topic.


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 will most likely delay my response to your question. Please resend any unanswered mail after four (working) days.

Please use email sensibly: questions that can be more efficiently dealt with in class should be raised there.

Study load, time required and attendance

It is estimated you will need to allocate 30-40% of your working time as a minimum (that is approximately 12-16 hours per week) for this course. This will be spent on preparation for and participation in the lectures, group work, completing the deliverables for this course and participating in the Jean Monnet Roundtables (Practitioner Engagement Series). In Block 3, 100% of your time should be dedicated to this course: this means 40 hours per week. The amount of effort may vary from week to week, but we try to ensure that the workload is spread throughout the course.

You are required to read as a minimum all the reading in the [course schedule][] for each week of the course. An additional requirement is to keep informed through regular reading of current news sources: the Financial Times, The Economist, European Voice and EurActiv as examples. See [Assessment and feedback][] for details on deliverables. From week one onwards, you should be thinking about all your deliverables. It is in your interest to use the literature from the weekly lectures and information from the PES to help write your final paper.

Class attendance and participation are vitally important because of the organisation of the course. I will 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. In class, I 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. Given the nature of the course, participation is strongly advised in all the meetings mentioned in the [course schedule][]. A medical certificate or documentation provided by a University official will be required in cases of absence.

Graded work

During the course, you will be expected to submit several pieces of work.

Examination (25% of your grade)

There will be one ‘take home’ examination at the end of week five of the course. You shall be required to answer two questions from a list of three. You shall have five hours to complete the exam, which will be delivered to your inbox by 9am on the morning of the exam. To achieve a good grade in the exam, you should:

The examination should be taken at the date specified. If you will not be able to take an examination, I expect to be notified in advance or as soon as possible. Use of the retake examination option is discouraged unless absolutely necessary. The retake exam will take place during the exam week of the second block (i.e. Week 8).

Individual essay (30% of your final grade)

One essay will be written, which you will be able to choose from a list of essay topics provided to you in Week 2 of Block 2. You will be required to submit a first draft in Week 7, and a final draft of the essay in Week 9. If you do not submit a first draft in Week 7 of Block 2, your final paper grade will be reduced by 50%. Please refer to the guidelines on how to write an essay (separate attachment). The first draft of your essay will be ‘peer reviewed’ by your colleagues on the course, and this review is to be delivered to the instructor along with the final version of your paper.

Your final papers will be evaluated on the following:

Block 3: group discussion paper, presentation and individual summaries (45% of your final grade)

The “discussion paper” will be approximately 4000 words long (±10%). 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 not 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 this ‘effectiveness’.

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, upon request.

Lack of active participation in the course (in group work and in lectures) will have a negative impact on your final grade.

Course schedule

All literature in the list must be read before the class. This is an absolute prerequisite for participation in the seminar: you will be asked to leave the room and be marked as absent if you have not done the work. Participation in the Practitioner Engagement Series (see calendar) is compulsory for this course. Further information will follow as to the events. There will be three in Block 2 and two in Block 3.

Week 1: Introductory Lecture: 30/10 (3pm - 6pm)

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.

Week 2: Lecture and group work: 6/11 (home work)

Week 3: Lecture and group work: 13/11

Week 4: Lecture and group work: 20/11

Week 5: Exam: 27/11

exam (at home) - check blackboard for details

Week 6: Lecture and group work: 4/12

Week 7: Lecture and group work: 11/12


Week 9: group work on discussion paper topics

Wednesday 8 January, 15:00 - 17:00/17:00 - 19:00 (PCH6.05)

Tasks: Reviewing current state of discussion papers
Finding new sources for information - short presentation and brainstorming session
Discussion on how to write opinion pieces and difference with academic works

Groups: Enlargement and Asylum Policy at 15.00 until 17.00
Ukraine and XXX from 17.00 until 19.00

Thursday 9 January, 10:00 - 12:00/13:00 - 15:00 (PCH5.02)

Tasks: Bringing new sources to the discussion paper/research topic
Summarising and presenting others’ ideas
Formulation of new structures for discussion papers

Groups: Borders/Migration/ENP (Group 1) and Asylum policy at 10.00 until 12.00
Ukraine and XXX from 13.00 until 15.00

Week 10: group work on discussion paper topics

Wednesday 15 January, 15:00 - 17:00 (PCH6.05) - both groups

Tasks: Short peer reviews of another group’s document
More indepth discussions on sources and using sources (focus on academic sources)
Discussion of process of teamwork and individual reflection on the processes

Week 11: group work on discussion paper topics, presentations

Wednesday 22 January, 15:00 - 17:00/17:00 - 19:00 (PCH6.05)

Tasks: Initial presentation of new structures for discussion papers
Feedback and response concerning new structures
Additional sources (focus on policy documents)

Groups: Two groups from 15.00 until 17.00; two groups from 17.00 until 19.00

Thursday 23 January, 13:00 - 15:00 (PCH5.02) - both groups

Tasks: Presentations
Wrap up and feedback

Week 12: home work

Tasks: Finalise individual reflections on groupwork
Deliver final discussion paper on 29 January at noon in paper version (note: this is a later delivery time than first conceived)

I am available for one-on-one meetings on 30 January from noon onwards. Please request a 20 minute slot per email.

Course Evaluation

Course evaluations are an important tool for improving the quality of courses and study programmes. At the end of a teaching period, questionnaires are distributed among the course participants. The results of these questionnaires are discussed by the Programme Committee, and ideas for improvement are communications to the course coordinator. More information on the Programme Committees is available at http://www.student.uva.nl/fgw-oc/start.cfm.

You should not feel as though you have to wait until the end of the course in order to voice any issues that you may have. The course coordinator invites you to engage either during office hours, prior or immediately after a class, or via email to discuss any concerns you may have.

Information on submitting written work

Documents submitted on paper should conform to the following rules: A4, printed on both sides of the page, fully justified paragraphs, with single line spacing AND PAGE NUMBERS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED. 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. As a minimum, the following information should be clearly marked on the front page of the submission (for all deliverables):

Written work should be submitted on or before the date specified in the syllabus, in the course coordinator’s pigeonhole next to the European Studies Secretariat (PCH6.48) or given to the instructor immediately prior to, during, or after class. If you will not be able to submit written work on time, you should notify the course coordinator in advance or as soon as possible. Requests for additional time must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or university official. Requests for additional time after the deadline has passed will not be honoured.

A digital copy of all submissions should be provided via Blackboard (‘Ephorus assignment’ for the individual essay), in PDF format. This electronic document should be identical to the printed copy. All documents must be submitted electronically AND on paper (hard and soft copies). Students are expected to inform themselves of standard academic procedures for citing and referencing: coherence and consistency is most important. 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, or that of someone else’s of course. Students are expected to be familiar with the University’s code of conduct and rules on plagiarism.

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

Checklist: Deliverables for deadlines

ItemWeightDate dueLength
D1: Exam25%27 Nov, 2pm5 hours
D2: Essay draft/final30%11 Dec / 7 Jan @ 9am3500 words
D3: Peer review-appended to final essay1 page
D5: Group discussion paper draft / final25%20 Dec / 22 Jan4000 words
D6: Presentation10%Block 320 minutes
D7: Group peer review / public feedback-Week 125 minutes
D8: Individual summaries of group work10%22 Jan1 page

[Deliverables for deadlines][]

Your overall grade for the course must be 5.5 or above: this means that individual elements of the course do not have to reach this threshold. Your general grade will reflect your overall participation in the course in addition to the quality of the final deliverables. This will relate to your willingness to engage with reading and lecture materials, and your ability to address and discuss questions to your peers during their presentations.

Lecture Slides

Slides should be available on blackboard shortly after the lecture.

Annex: Documents

Please make use of the following documents:

Annex: 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 (1999). ‘Discourses of globalization and the social construction of European identities.’ Journal of European Public Policy. 6: 652-68.
  22. Ruggie, John (1993) ‘Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations.’ International Organization. 47(1): 139-74.
  23. Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge.
  24. Sandholtz, Wayne and Alec Stone Sweet (1998) European Integration and Supranational Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  25. Schimmelfennig, Frank (2000) ‘International Socialization in the New Europe:: Rational Action in an Institutional Environment.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(1): 109-39.
  26. Jan Aart Scholte (2004) ‘Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance,’ Government and Opposition 39:2: 211-233.
  27. Smith, Karen E. (2003) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  28. Stone Sweet, Alec, Wayne Sandholtz and Neil Fligstein (eds.) (2001) The Institutionalization of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  29. Wallace, Helen, William Wallace, and Mark Pollack (eds) (2005) Policy-Making in the European Union. Fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  30. 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