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Political Structures and Processes of the European Union

Political Structures and Processes of the European Union

6 ECTS credits
159 h study time

Offer 2 with catalog number 1004830BER for all students in the 1st semester at a (B) Bachelor - advanced level.

Information about this course is applicable on academic year 2017-2018.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method

Grading (scale from 0 to 20)

Can retake in second session
Enrollment requirements
Studenten die dit opleidingsonderdeel opnemen, moeten geslaagd zijn voor 'Politicologie: algemene inleiding' en geslaagd zijn voor minstens 30 ECTS-credits op bachelorniveau. Studenten TEW moeten ingeschreven of geslaagd zijn voor 'Politicologie: algemene inleiding' en geslaagd zijn voor minstens 30 ECTS-credits op bachelorniveau.
Taught in
Partnership agreement
  • Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
  • Under agreement for exchange of courses
Faculty of Economic & Social Sciences & Solvay BS
Political Science
Educational Team:
Activities and contact hours
  • 20 contact hours Lecture
  • 10 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
  • 129 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
Course content

This course aims to provide students with an introduction to the history and functioning of the European Union (EU). Students are expected to acquire a basic understanding of the European institutions and policy-making processes. The course seeks to enable students to independently analyse and interpret various EU policies and the process of European integration itself. Various academic disciplines contribute to European studies. While this course is principally based on political science approaches, it seeks to integrate insights from history, law and economics.

Course material
  • Handbook (Recommended): The Government and Politics of the European Union, Neill Nugent, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
  • Digital course material (Required): Syllabus & weekly readings, Various authors, Available from Pointcarré
Additional info

The course is built around a series of weekly lectures and classroom discussions covering the history of European integration, an overview of the principal institutions and an introduction to selected policy areas. Students are expected to take notes to accompany the available reading materials. A full course overview is given in the course syllabus. For working students several evening wrap-up sessions are foreseen.

Programme Objectives

Algemene competenties

  • Students gain insight in the history, decision-making and various policies of the European Union. They acquire the knowledge and skills to understand and interpret past evolutions as well as current events shaping the European construction in a multidisciplinary manner.
  • Students acquire the technical ability to consult the scholarly literature on the European Union as well as official EU policy documents and legislation.
  • Students are expected to “learn to learn”: instead of assimilating ready-made answers, students become proficient in distilling the essence out of a mass of information and formulating their own answers to complex questions.
  • As the course is taught in English, students acquire the knowledge and skill to read, write and communicate about European integration in the international lingua franca.

The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  • Written Exam determines 67% of the final mark.
  • Other Exam determines 33% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Written Exam + Oral Defence with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 67% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Essay with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 33% of the final mark.

Additional info with regard to grading

Students will be evaluated on the basis of a written assignment and a written exam followed by an oral defence. Each component will account for 1/3 of the overall course grade. All parts of the evaluation are in English.

The written assignment involves the writing of a short essay (approx 500 words) that comments on a contemporary European policy issue in the style of a newspaper op-ed. It should be submitted at the latest during the last class of the semester, both per email and in hardcopy.

The double exam is integrated into a single session at the end of the semester. The full list of exam questions is included in the course syllabus made available at the start of the year. Students are thus expected to digest all course contents and prepare specifically for these pre-announced questions.

The day of the exam is structured as follows:

  • Students receive one broad question (out of the list of known questions), covering a large part of the course.
  • The exam starts with a written part that takes approximately 1 hour and is based on the "closed books" principle. Students are asked to put a structured reply on paper.
  • The written part is followed by a short individual discussion with the professor. During this oral part, students can be asked to clarify unclear, incomplete or incorrect elements in the written answer. Additional questions can be asked.

Examples of exam questions:

  • Explain the influence of the end of the Cold War on the development of the European Union.
  • Analyse the attempts to arrive at a common foreign and defence policy in the framework of the EC/EU (from the 1950s till today).