POL42000 Political Theory and the EU

Academic Year 2022/2023

Sovereignty, justice, democracy, citizenship, freedom, community. These are among the central normative concepts that we use to understand, analyse and assess our social and political systems. However, each of these concepts has been developed historically with the nation-state in mind. As neither a nation-state, nor a typical international organisation, the European Union uniquely problematises our fundamental normative categories. This course aims to identify, and provide a range of potential solutions to, the central normative challenges that have arisen due to process of European integration.

The first part of the course provides an orientation in international political theory, looking specifically at the paradigms of liberal nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and republican intergovernmentalism. With these intellectual resources, we will explore a range of normative issues facing the EU in the next part of the course. These include problems of democratic legitimacy and the rule of law; problems of identity and communication; problems of justice; problems of sovereignty and integration (including the right to withdraw and opt-out of integration projects); problems relating to crisis governance; and problems of internal and external migration (esp. the case of refugees).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you will:
• have a good understanding of the central normative questions pertaining to the EU, both as a political system and as an actor facing concrete political decisions
• improve your understanding of the EU, especially how it is designed and how it operates in various policy areas
• have developed your ability to read and analyse both abstract and applied philosophical texts;
• have developed your skills in written and oral argument; and
• gain experience writing well-structured extended essays in political theory

Indicative Module Content:

Liberal nationalism
Republican integovernmentalism
Democratic deficit(S)
Justice deficit(s)
Identity and Communication
Crisis governance
Migration and refugees

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Critical writing
Group work
Oral presentation 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Introductory courses in both political theory and EU politics would be an advantage. However, neither are essential to be successful in this course.

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: Two 600-word response papers (Paper 2) Unspecified n/a Graded No


Essay: Essay peer-review services Unspecified n/a Graded No


Assignment: Two 600-word response papers (Paper 1) Unspecified n/a Graded No


Attendance: actively participate in class Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 5000 word essay Unspecified n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer 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
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Course participants will receive feedback from both the lecturer and student working groups on each of their response papers. Course participants should use this feedback to construct an argumentative strategy for their final essay. This essay will undergo a peer-review process where each course participant will receive tailored feedback from a peer before final submission.

White, Jonathan. 2019. Politics of Last Resort.

2019. Bellamy, Richard. A Republican Europe of States.

2017. Political Theory and the European Union, edited by Richard Bellamy and Joseph Lacey

2018. European Integration Theory (THIRD EDITION), edited by Antje Wiener, Tanja Borzel and Thomas Riise.

Brock, Gillian. 2009. Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account.

Cheneval, Francis. 2011. The Government of the Peoples: On the Idea and Principles of Multilateral Democracy.

2010. The Philosophy of International Law, edited by Samantha Besson and John Tasioulas.

2013. Republican Democracy: Liberty, Law and Politics, edited by Andreas Niederberger and Philipp Schink.

2009. Legal Pluralism: National and International Perspectives, edited by Samantha Besson and José Luis Martí.

2008. Law, Democracy and Solidarity in a Post-National Union, edited by Erik Oddvar Eriksen, Christian Joerges and Florian Rödl.

Bruter, Michael. 2005. Citizens of Europe? The Emergence of a Mass European Identity.

2009. European Identity, edited by Jeffrey T. Checkel and Peter J. Katzenstein.

2015. European Public Spheres: Politics is Back, edited by Thomas Risse.

Kymlicka, Will. Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship.

2015. Institutional Cosmopolitanism, edited by Luis Cabrera and Thomas Pogge.

2015. Europe’s Justice Deficit, edited by Dimitry Kockenov, Gráinne De Búrca and Andrew Williams.

Carens, Joseph. 2013. The Ethics of Immigration.

Miller, David. 2016. Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Migration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.