The European Union is a key actor in shaping the international political economy and the relations between states and markets. It is therefore central to comprehending the interactions between economics and politics. The primary objectives of this module is to provide a detailed understanding of how the European Union and the main political processes within it operate, to convey this knowledge through the theoretical foundations of political science, and to enable students to develop analytical and theoretical skills that can be transferred directly into a non-academic environment or that provide the foundations for further academic research. The module will discuss the design of EU treaties, the adoption of policies, their implementation and adjudication. It will cover all major EU institutions and policies. The module will also rely on groups presentations of academic papers and on the writing of essays, in order to facilitate the understanding of the module's substantive topics and of the analytical tools employed in political science.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, the students will be able to: a) understand the institutional structure of the European Union, b) understand core processes of institutional, input and output politics in the Union, c) interpret this knowledge theoretically and analytically through the main theories in political science, d) assess critically empirical evidence, e) present concisely academic theories and arguments to an audience, f) review and convey academic findings and analyses concisely through essays and presentations, g) develop skills to work in a team, and f) develop positive and normative interpretations of important political questions facing the EU leaders. The emphasis assigned to the substantive knowledge of EU politics and to analytical tools to interpret it, as well as the development of critical skills and communicative abilities to comprehend and convey key theories and findings, via presentations, essays and exams, will allow students to develop an independent understanding of these phenomena which will be relevant for their future career.
Lesson period: Second trimester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Introduction History, politics and policies Constitutional Politics: Understanding (Treaty) negotiations (bargaining theory) Legislative Politics: Council of Ministers and European Parliament (institutional theory and spatial theory of voting) Executive Politics: European Commission and agencies (delegation theory) Executive Politics: National Administrations (compliance theory) Judicial Politics (delegation theory II) European Party System, Parties, Elections (theory of party formation, representation and voting behavior) Public Opinion and the European Union (theory of identity formation) Interests Groups and the Policy Process (collective action theory) Regulation of the Single Market, Social and Environmental Policies (regulation theory) Economic and Monetary Union (theory of credible commitments) Agricultural Policy, Regional Policy and the Budget (theory of distribution) Justice and Home Affairs and Interior Policies (identity and security theory) The European Union in the World (international relations theory)
Prerequisites for admission
There are no prerequisites other than those required for admission to the degree course
The main teaching method consists of lectures, seminars with invited speakers and student presentations of articles. Students will be organized in small groups and will present an academic article to the whole classroom.
The core course material consists of a) Hix, Simon and Bjørn Høyland (2011 or latest edition) The Political System of the European Union, London: Macmillan; b) lecture slides, c) compulsory journal articles (assigned after the lectures), d) optional journal articles (assigned after the lectures).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam evaluates the knowledge of the topics covered in the course and the analytical skills developed during the course. For attending students, learning will normally be assessed through on the basis a group presentation of academic article (worth 5 points out of 33 - 30 cum laude), a group essay (worth 10 points out of 33) and a final examination (worth 18 points out of 33). We will discuss in class a list of topics for the presentation and the essay. The exam is a written test which normally consists of a part with about 11 multiple choice questions, which contributes 11 points to the final mark, and two open questions worth 11 points each, for a sum total of 33 points (equivalent to 30 cum laude). Non-attending students must take a final exam that covers all teaching material plus several additional articles. The duration of each exam is one hour and thirty minutes. Students will have about thirty minutes to answer the multiple-choice part and one hour for the two open questions. A passing mark ranges from 18 to 30 cum laude. Dictionaries, glossaries and calculators can be used. The results of group presentation and essay are communicated through Ariel. Presentations will be evaluated on the basis of timekeeping, understanding of the article, delivery of its content, audience interaction and critique of the article. The essay (between 5000 and 7000 words) is evaluated on the extent it offers a critical review of the literature on the chosen topic.