POL41650 The Global Political Economy of Europe

Academic Year 2023/2024

A series of crises - from the great financial crash, the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, Brexit, the climate emergency, Covid-19, and the war in Ukraine - have challenged the political economy of European integration. These crises reveal the fragility of joining together very diverse economies (or what we will call, national varieties of capitalism) into the European Union (EU), while illustrating the tension between national (democratic) politics and supranational (technocratic) politics in the EU.

The objective of the module is to investigate the economic trade-offs and inevitable political conflicts that come with European integration.

The course is taught in three parts. The first part examines different theories of European integration, and asks why European nation-states have delegated such extensive sovereign economic and political powers to supranational bodies. We examine the determinants behind this process, particularly the role of crises. The second part examines the political-economic rationale for the establishment of the single market and the single currency, paying particular attention to monetary policy, and the continued political fallout from the euro crisis. The final part of the course examines the changing nature of class politics and voting behaviour in Europe, and asks whether national party politics are reshaping Europe’s political economy?. We conclude with a discussion on whether voters want more or less European integration.

A core question to consider throughout the course is whether the succession of crises in the EU are bringing European countries closer together, or pulling them further apart. Ask yourself - if the collective action problems facing EU member-states (such as the climate emergency and securing energy supply) require collective action solutions, does this mean member-states need to delegate more and more sovereign powers to the EU? If so, what does that mean for democratic legitimacy at the national and EU level?

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This course analyses the EU as an international case study on what happens when diverse political economies are integrated into a single market, and then a single currency, without a federal government or fiscal treasury. Each seminar is constructed around a set of core readings. You must read these before each seminar and prepare a critical response.

Learning outcomes:

Understand the origins of the transatlantic financial crash in 2008-2010, and why and how this turned into a sovereign debt crisis within the eurozone.

Understand the different theoretical explanations for why nation-states delegate economic and political powers to supranational organisations such as the EU.

Understand the arguments for and against European countries choosing to pool their sovereignty to create a single currency with an overarching central bank.

Understand the institutional transformation of the European economy, from the post war period to the present, and how this is related to economic liberalisation.

Understand the consequences of economic liberalisation for national democracies, particularly as it pertains to the welfare state, collective bargaining, and fiscal policy.

Understand the comparative political and institutional differences between European member-states, and how these institutional differences impact public policy outcomes.

Understand the difference between demand-led and export-led growth models within Europe, and why the EU has an institutional bias toward export-led growth.

Understand the political and economic constraints on the EU’s capacity to generate fiscal capacity, and the impact this has on the future of European social democracy.

Understand the electoral foundations and social class determinants of voting behaviour in Europe, and how and why this is shaping the politics of euroscepticism.

Understand the political and economic arguments in favour of more or less European integration, particularly as it pertains to debt mutualisation and fiscal policy.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will be delivered as 12 in-person interactive seminars.

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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Attendance: Class engagement and participation.

You are expected to attend, engage and participate in seminar activities, polls and discussions.

You must attend/engage a minimum of 9/12 seminars to pass.
Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Continuous Assessment: Response papers: 40%

You have to submit a half-page (250-300 word) response paper to the readings/question every week on Brightspace.

You must submit a minimum of 10 response papers to pass.
Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Essay: The question of the end of term paper will be provided in week 8 and based on the learning outcomes of the course. It must be 10 pages, 1.5 spacing, including references.
Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback will be provided via brightspace.