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Unit information: The European Union: Theory and Institutions in 2020/21

Unit name The European Union: Theory and Institutions
Unit code POLIM3027
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Cini
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit examines the most advanced example of international integration, the European Union. It begins by introducing the theoretical and conceptual literatures that can be used as a a tool-box for analysing European-level issues, developments and policies. The unit then uses the theory as a lens through which to the EU’s institutions and policy process The aim of the unit is to introduce students to the different conceptual lenses that can be used to understand European Union politics and policy, ann the European integration process more generally; and to familiarise students with the workings of the EU institutions.


  • To provide an overview of contemporary debates on European integration and EU politics.
  • To introduce students to the different conceptual lenses that can be used to understand European politics and the European integration process.

Intended learning outcomes

  • The ability to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of arguments about European integration and EU politics
  • The ability critically and comparatively to evaluate the various theories and conceptual approaches which help explain European integration and EU politics.
  • The ability to integrate theoretical and empirical materials.
  • The ability to make articulate, concise, persuasive and well-paced presentations within groups.
  • The ability to write articulately, concisely and persuasively.
  • The ability to engage in constructive discussion.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: formative 800 word essay plan Summative assessment: an essay of 4,000 words.

The oral presentation supported by a handout provides formative assessment of the student's grasp of European Union politics issues. This will be an opportunity for them to articulate in a concise and persuasive way their position both verbally and in written form; and in the ensuing discussion demonstrate the breadth and depth of their understanding of the issues raised in the literature.

The essay provides summative assessment of the student s substantive grasp of the substantive issues associated with this unit (European Union politics); and of how to engage with that substantive material in an articulate and persuasive way in written form which achieves an appropriate degree of depth but which is still concise. They will be expected to demonstrate broad knowledge of EU affairs, to identify key issues, to relate them to relevant academic theories and concepts, and to present the material in a scholarly fashion.

Reading and References

  • M. Cini and N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan (ed) (2010) European Union Politics, 3nd edition Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • A. Moravcsik (1998) The Choice for Europe London, UCL Press.
  • L. Hooghe and G. Marks (2001) Multi-level governance and European Integration London, Rowman and Littlefield.
  • D. Beach (2005) The Dynamics of European Integration Baskingstoke, Palgrave
  • F. Schimmelfennig and U. Sedelmeier (2006) The Politics of European Union enlargement: theoretical approaches London, Routledge.