Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Module Cap
Tied to L2K107
Tied to L2K207
Tied to M1K507
Tied to M9K607
Tied to M9L007
Tied to M1K607


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Provide advanced knowledge and understanding of key empirical material and concepts in the EU institutional arena.
  • Enable critical evaluation of leading scholarship in the field of EU institutions.
  • Develop advanced knowledge and understanding of current issues and debates in EU institutional change and reform.


  • Week 1. Business - Administration (arranging programme) + European Documentation session.
  • Week 2. Introduction to the subject area - Lecture by Mr MacMullen ~ 'Understanding the EU System'.
  • Week 3. The Commission - Changing political role from the 1960s to the present. President & College ~ power & capacity to exercise leadership. Strategic position, initiative and incremental accretion.
  • Week 4. The Intergovernmental Institutions - European Council (Summits). Council of Ministers. Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). Bargaining, Vetoes & Decision Procedures. National & European roles.
  • Week 5. The European Parliament - Development of formal budgetary & legislative powers. Effect of direct elections. Individual and collective role of MEPs and party groups.
  • Week 6. Court of Justice and Legal Integration - Development of a European legal order. Role of ECJ judges and lawyers. Scope and limitations of legal integration.
  • Week 7. Europe of the Interests? - Representation of economic and corporate interests. The growth of lobbying in the policy process. Cause groups, NGOs and social movements.
  • Week 8. Governance: Managing the changing policy process effectively - European Commission: structure, staffing, and administration. EU, 'comitology' and national implementation. New methods of policy making, Regulation and Agencies, Common Foreign and Security Policy, European Central Bank.
  • Week 9. EU Structures from Nice to ...? - Problems of Institutional Reform. The Significance of Structures & Enlargement. Constitutionalism, Legitimacy and Accountability.
  • Week 10. Case Study: 'European' administration and the control of fraud - Is this an EU or national level problem? Who is responsible or accountable for maladministration, fraud and corruption in EU policies? How could such problems be prevented?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An advanced knowledge and understanding of the individual EU institutions and how they inter-relate as a system and with national and subnational actors.
  • An advanced knowledge and understanding of the policy process operating within the EU institutional system, including at national, regional and local levels and actors.
  • An advanced knowledge and understanding of current debates on issues of administration, implementation, and accountability in the context of the enlarging EU system.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to focus critically on the relevant concepts and approaches to EU institutional politics.
  • The ability to interpret and analyse the policy processes operating within the EU institutions including the appropriate national and subnational levels.
  • The ability to critically assess issues in EU institutional design, using appropriate conceptual tools.
Key Skills:
  • Independent learning within a defined framework of study at an advanced level.
  • Independent thought in analysing and critiquing existing scholarship on the subject area and in evaluating its contribution.
  • Skills in identifying and using sources, including official EU documentation.
  • The ability to work to a deadline and complete written work within word limits.
  • Advanced essay-writing skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students are taught in two-hour classes.
  • The module begins with two, two-hour lectures from the tutor, one that explains the module structure and provides bibliographic information, and the second which introduces the main issues for the study of EU institutions and the policy process. These are designed to ensure that students with different backgrounds approach the subsequent seminars with an understanding of the practical and intellectual requirements of the module.
  • Subsequent seminars are based on individual student presentations, a briefer reply by a designated discussant, followed by guided discussion with a summary by a designated 'rapporteur', and finally tutor feedback. These seminars enable the students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and develop their abilities to communicate and to develop their own skills in argumentation.
  • Students are required to submit a summative essay of 4,000 words at the end of the module. This enables them to demonstrate that they have sufficient subject knowledge and understanding to meet the assessment criteria, that they have achieved the subject skills 1, 2, and 3, and that they have acquired the key skills 1, 2, 4 and 5.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 First two weeks 2 hours 4
Seminars 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 130
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 4,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Student presentation in seminars supported by written summary of 2,000 words in length.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University