INRL30400 EU Foreign Policy: understanding how the European Union and its member states engage with the world

Academic Year 2023/2024

Current events in the very heart of Europe have focused the world’s attention on the foreign policy of the European Union and its member states. This module seeks to provide students with the tools to understand and critically engage with different areas of the EU’s external engagement: from trade power and climate diplomacy to its security and defense policy. The course will explore (and problematize) the Union’s tools and capabilities and the way in which its member states relate to the EU in the realm of foreign policy.
The module is structured along two weekly sessions, a lecture and a seminar. Lectures will provide students with the foundational knowledge on theoretical approaches to EU foreign policy as well as on the different actors, decision-making procedures and domains of EU foreign policy. During the seminars, students will critically engage with the material covered in the lectures, by means of structured in-class debates, empirical case studies and, in the last week of the course, a roundtable discussion with EU officials and national diplomats.
The goal of the module is to introduce students to core debates in EU foreign policy and to provide them with the tools to understand its evolution and critically to assess its impact and effectiveness – both within and outside of the EU. To that aim, students will be asked to give an oral presentation on one of the weekly seminar topics, with the rest of the class acting as discussant (depending on class size, this may be an individual or group presentation). Additionally, students will have to submit a 1,000 word ‘EU foreign in policy in the news’ assignment, exploring a news story pertaining to EU foreign policy and discussing related policy solutions. The final assignment will consist of a 2,500-word essay on one of the six topics assigned by the lecturer (or on a topic of choice to be agreed with the lecturer).

This module will be taught by a PhD student, Ms Marianna Lovato.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will:

• Be able to apply theories of international relations and European integration to understand the evolution of EU foreign policy
• Be familiar with EU foreign policy institutions and decision-making procedures as well as EU member states’ foreign policies and contemporary debates in the literature on EU foreign policy and external relations
• Critically assess the effectiveness, shortcomings and opportunities of EU foreign policy
• Critically engage with (national) news coverage of EU foreign policy
• Engage with the outcomes and practical ramifications of EU foreign policy

They will also gain and strengthen the following transferable skills:
• Engage with the scientific literature as well as policy research, identify research puzzles and knowledge gaps
• Develop analytical and presentation skills, including the ability to construct critical and persuasive written and oral arguments
• Conduct independent research, select and critically engage with academic sources and use evidence to support their arguments

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All the while designed to provide students with foundational knowledge of EU foreign policy, lectures are also intended to encourage students’ active participation (e.g. through the use of Mentimeter polls and interactive whiteboards). Moreover, the course combines traditional lecture-based teaching with problem-based learning, whereby students actively engage in the learning process, developing problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills. The EU is a living object and students will be encouraged to treat it as such in all of their graded assignments. Finally, the course seeks to expose students to the people who bring EU foreign policy to life. In the last seminar, students will hear first-hand from three former practitioners (both national diplomats and EU officials) and will be asked to draw on the course material to ask questions and engage with them. Students will be expected to prepare thoroughly for each of the classes (particularly engaging with core readings), actively to participate in class and to allocate a substantial amount of time to the completion of assessment work outside the classroom hours. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: 1,000-word brief, critically discussing a current news story pertaining to EU foreign policy Unspecified n/a Graded No


Presentation: Group or individual presentation on weekly seminar topic. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Group Project: Group activity in response to weekly presentation. Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Essay: 2,500-word essay on assigned topic Unspecified n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

As concerns the two written assignments (EU foreign policy in the news and final essay), students will receive feedback within 20 days of the deadline, in line with university policy. The lecturer will provide feedback to the oral presentations a few days afterwards, but the final grade will be awarded at the end of term, after all presentations have been delivered.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 09:00 - 10:50