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International Relations and Politics in the European Union

Tuition fee €775 per programme


The European Union started in 1951 as an attempt to prevent a new World-war in Europe. No other region has displayed similar willingness to give up important parts of national sovereignty in pursuit of a stronger global competitive positioning.

The European Union keeps pressuring the integration-process at a pace which is too fast for some and too slow for others. This integration has a direct impact on the daily lives of all citizens in Europe. The accession of the new Central and Eastern European Member-States poses new challenges for the EU. The East-West labour migration, which is driven by wage differentials creates both opportunities and problems. The free movement of people, and the current refugee crisis, has strained social welfare-systems in some of the richer Member-States. Political pressures and the credibility of the EU integration system question the present forms of integration. Pressure such as Brexit, the Eurozone crisis and the related high-unemployment figures make national sovereignty more attractive for some voters.

The course offers a comprehensive coverage of the key political and economic policy areas of the European Union with analysis of the different approaches to regional integration throughout the history of the European Union. The course analyses the historical, political and economic bases for the rise of the European Union from its origins in the post-World War II recovery, to its historic enlargement in 2004 and 2007. Most of the present tensions inside the EU directly relate to the economic integration process and reflect on all other fields of European integration.

Further attention is paid to the protection of human rights within the European integration process. A comparison between the European and UN-framework for the protection of human rights will be made and practically applied to specific cases.

The course will give students an in-depth look at the European legal, economic and political landscape. The course contains academic classes around these themes, as well as field trips to a number of relevant institutions.

This course consists of 32 class hours (synchronous/asynchronous) divided over 3 weeks. Students earn 6 ECTS credits when they obtain a passing grade or 7.5 ECTS when they obtain a passing course grade and ISP grade.

Course Duration and Dates
This is a three week online course running from the 4th of January until the 22nd of January, 2021. The courses will be scheduled in Central European Time [CET] so it is possible that some time slots are not ideal for people in certain time zones. However, when scheduling the courses, we will try to take into account the different time zones as much as we can.

The number of credits earned after successfully concluding this course is the equivalent of 6 ECTS according to Maastricht University’s guidelines. For further information see the terms and conditions.

There is a possibility of earning 1,5 additional ECTS upon completion of a research paper for €200. Please reach out to us via mail if you would like to sign up for an Independent Study Project (ISP). This would bring the total of earned ECTS to 7,5 ECTS.

By the end of this course:
• Students will be able to describe the current European legal and political landscape.
• Students will be able to summarize aspects of the history of the European Union.
• Students will be able to analyze the current key issues the European Union is facing today.
• Students will be able to compare the institutions that have jurisdiction over European legal and human rights issues.
• Students will be able to reflect on these institutions strengths and weaknesses.
• Students will be able to discuss cultural differences in Europe.
• Students will be able to understand the economic and political logic behind the EU integration.
• Students will be able to review the EU’s legal system and main legal principles guiding the economic integration, and describe the legislative processes.
• Students can understand the political and economic framework of the decision-making inside the EU.
• Students should be able to understand the various forms of market-integration in-depth.
• Students can understand the choice and benefits of the Economic and Monetary Union-concept.
• Students can address the current challenges facing the EU, including the accession of new Member-States.
• Students are able to understand the underlying principles of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
• Students can address the finer details of the EU policy in the field of Justice and Home affairs.
• Students understand the functioning of the Council of Europe and the legal protection offered by the European Convention on Human Rights.
• Students can evaluate the impact of the development of the inner and outer circle movement in European politics.
• Students can explain the influence of national political processes on major EU projects (e.g. Economic & Monetary Union).

The course is ideal for students studying international relations, history and politics, but students should note that the course does contain quite a bit of content on economic and legal issues. This means that the course may also be appropriate for economics and business students with an interest in the European Union, or law students in combined degrees with a focus on international relations.

A minimum of 10 students is required for the class to take place.

Recommend literature
The main book that is used in the course is: ‘The European Union’, by Susan Senior Nello (McGraw-Hill 3rd ed). Students also read a collection of articles, websites and original EU Treaty texts.

Teaching methods
Lectures ▪ Papers ▪ Tutorials

Assessment methods
Final paper ▪ Mid-term exam ▪ Final written exam ▪ Participation

Apply now! J-term 2021
Application deadline
Dec 7, 2020 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Jan 4, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! J-term 2021
Application deadline
Dec 7, 2020 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Jan 4, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States