Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap
Tied to M1K507
Tied to new Politics and International Relations (Political Theory)
Tied to M1K607


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module examines the role of the European Union in contemporary International Relations.
  • Students will get an opportunity to engage with theoretical approaches which try to explain the internal and the external development of the EU. On the basis of an understanding of these theories and concepts students will investigate how the EU aspires to define itself in the global context and how it develops its external relations.
  • Students will hence analyse key EU policy areas such as the Single European Market, the Common Foreign and Security Pillar and the EU neighbourhood policy.
  • The module puts a particular emphasis on examining the tensions between the EU’s external ambitions and the increasing diversity of national interests amongst the 27 member states


  • A series of nine two-hour seminars on the following topics:
  • 1. Regional integration after 1945: The European context.
  • 2. Between state-centrism and supranationalisation: European integration theories.
  • 3. The EU as a ‘soft power’: Concepts and challenges.
  • 4. A borderless Europe or towards finality? The enlargement of the EU
  • 5. The EU as a global economic power: From the Common Market to the Single European Market.
  • 6. The Eurozone: From a two-speed Europe towards a global currency?
  • 7. Between NATO and the UN: The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Pillar.
  • 8. ‘Creating prosperity, stability and security’: The EU neighbourhood policy.
  • 9. Perspectives and challenges for the EU in the contemporary IR environment .

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of:
  • The historic evolvement of the process of institutionalised regional integration in Europe since 1945;
  • The tension between national politics and the process of supranationalisation and related theoretical approaches;
  • The mechanisms and the scope of integration in key policy areas such as the Single Market, monetary policy and defence and security;
  • The EU-27’s variable geometry as a result of successive waves of enlargement;
  • The nature and variety of challenges facing the EU in the contemporary Internal Relations environment;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire:
  • The ability to critically analyse primary EU sources in the form of Council resolutions, Commission reports and directives and statistical data provided by Eurostat and the OECD;
  • The ability to apply European integration theories to the analysis of developments in key EU policies areas, particularly in respect of the tension between the role of the nation state and the pooling of national sovereignty on the EU institutional level;
  • An understanding of the nature of contemporary International Relations and the role of the EU in the network of regional and global organisations;
Key Skills:
  • Independent learning within a defined framework of study at an advanced level;
  • Independent thought in analysing and criticizing existing scholarship in International Relations and European Studies, as well as primary policy statements issued by EU institutions and member state governments;
  • The ability to work to a deadline and complete written work within word limits ;
  • Advanced essay-writing skills;
  • The ability to seek out and use relevant data sources, including electronic and bibliographic sources;

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

  • The module is taught by means of a series of 2-hour seminars in which students (individually or as part of a team) contribute to one seminar as discussants. For this purpose they are asked to prepare a short introductory presentation to the class, accompanied by briefing notes, followed by class discussion which should be lead by the discussant and will be supported by the tutor.
  • Formative feedback is given on class presentations using a proforma.
  • Formative Presentations demand independent reading and research, contributing to independent learning, and require the structuring of the results in a digestible format, developing presentational skills.
  • Class discussion calls for background reading on the part of non-presenters, contributing to their independent learning, enables critical assessment of the points raised in the introductory presentation by other participants, developing their critical skills, and allows gaps and errors to be identified and rectified to the advantage of the presenter.
  • Summative assessment is via one terminal essay of 4,000 words.
  • Summative essay test the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to apply in critical argument in relation to a specific question.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Weekly 2 hours 18
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Supervision of one seminar as a discussant on the basis of an introductory presentation accompanied by briefing notes; formative feedback via proforma

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