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Understanding the EU as a Global Actor: the Role of Disciplines and Disciplinarity


Admission requirements

This course is available to students on the MA International Relations EUS and Global Political Economy specialisations and the MA European Politics and Society.


The range of global challenges and crises impacting the EU are such that they cannot be sufficiently understood or solved by an introspective monodisciplinary study of the EU’s various policy approaches. This course therefore applies a global perspective to comprehend the wider geopolitical ecosystem within which the EU operates, applying insights from a number of connected disciplines: Economics, History, Law and Politics/IR. This innovative module globalises the study of the EU and external interactions. Through deep analysis of literature focused on complexity, crisis and disciplinarity, students will investigate the opportunities for and challenges in developing an interdisciplinary approach that can help us to deliver a more holistic understanding of the EU in the world. Through student-led flipped and problem-based learning classrooms students will explore the concepts, puzzles and methodologies associated with the four disciplines with a view to applying them to analysis of the key global historical and contemporary challenges of the EU. Guides to possible case studies are provided but students are encouraged to decide on those studies that are of most interest to them.

Course objectives

  1. To explore opportunities and imperatives to combine or integrate the insights from various disciplines into a single course, thereby examining the EU’s external relations, past and present, through a multi-, inter- or trans-disciplinary approach;

  2. To explore possibilities for developing an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of EU externally directed policies;

  3. Through analysis of a number of case studies, to develop students’ understanding of the EU’s role in the world;

  4. To identify and examine the multiple considerations, multiplicity of actors and variety of sectors impacting on the EU’s policymaking;

  5. To examine relevant primary sources and apply theoretical and empirical knowledge and understanding acquired in this and other modules to EU external relations.

  6. To develop students’ transferable skills through an innovative and challenging teaching and assessment agenda.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, seminars, debate, group and individual research. In addition, parts of the course will be taught using problem-based learning (PBL), incorporating independent study, prescribed reading, group discussion; and flipped classrooms in which the students take responsibility for the classroom as a whole.

Assessment method


  • Active participation.

  • Portfolio (students will choose from a range of alternatives, including writing a policy review, blog or newspaper article, making a vidcast or podcast, producing a concept map or poster ).

  • Co-authored conference paper

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the various parts.


  • Active participation: 20%

  • Portfolio: 40%

  • Co-authored conference paper: 40%


A resit is only possible if a student fails the entire course. In such a case, the student will resit only that component or components of assessment that they have failed, writing a new version of the relevant component(s). Class participation cannot be retaken.

Inspection and feedback

Not applicable

Reading list

A more extensive list is provided in the course handbook. The list below provides only an indication of the range and scope of readings the students will be required to read or are recommended depending on their particular interests.

Bennett, W. L and Livingston, S. (2018) ‘The disinformation order: Disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions’, European Journal of Communication, 33(2): 122-39.

Elvert, J. (2004) 'A fool’s game or a comedy of errors?: EU enlargements in 201 comparative perspective’, in W. Kaiser and J. Elvert (eds), European Union Enlargement: A Comparative History. London: Routledge.

Hutter, Swen, Kriesi, Hanspeter. (2019) ‘Politicizing Europe in times of crisis’, Journal of European Public Policy  26:7: 996-1017.

Long, David (2011) 'Interdisciplinarity and the Study of International Relations', in P. Aalto, Harle, V. and S. Moisio (eds) International Studies. Interdisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge, pp. 31-65.

Manners, Ian and Rosamond, Ben (2018) ‘A Different Europe is Possible: The Professionalization of EU Studies and the Dilemmas of Integration in the 21st Century’, JCMS, Vol 56, Annual Review: 28-38. DOI: 10.1111/jcms.12771.

Newell, W. H. (2001) 'A Theory of Interdisciplinary Studies', Issues in Integrative Studies, 19:1-25.

Ramiro Troitiño, David, Kerikmäe, Tanel and Chochia, Archil (2020) ‘Foreign Affairs of the European Union: How to Become an Independent and Dominant Power in the International Arena’ in David Ramiro Troitiño, Tanel Kerikmäe, Ricardo Martín de la Guardia, Guillermo Á Pérez Sánchez (eds) The EU in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities for the European Integration Process. Cham: Springer: 209-222.

Schimmelfennig, F.  (2018) ‘European integration (theory) in times of crisis. A comparison of the euro and Schengen crises’, Journal of European Public Policy, 25(7): 969-989. DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2017.1421252.

Voltolini, Benedetta, Natorski, Michal, Hay, Colin (2020) ‘Introduction: the politicisation of permanent crisis in Europe’, Journal of European Integration 42:5: 609-624.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.