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Unit information: Britain and the European Union in 2015/16

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Unit name Britain and the European Union
Unit code POLI31565
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Cini
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit has two elements. First, it will critically assess the relationship between the Britain and the European Union and the role of Britain within the European Union since 1945. Beyond this historical perspective, the unit will also critically engage with contemporary issues (such as constitutional change) and policies of particular importance to the UK (such as defence and monetary policy), The aim of the unit will be to go beyond the often superficial journalistic accounts of Britain's role in Europe, to explore and analyse the way in which Britain has changed as a consequence of EU membership, as well as how Britain seeks to maximise its influence within the Union.


  • To offer students a deep understanding of the complex and changing relationship between Britain and the European Union
  • To introduce students to key debates in contemporary political analysis, such as ‘Europeanization’, ‘sovereignty’ and ‘interdependence’
  • To give students a conceptually sophisticated understanding of the impact of EU membership on Britain
  • To enable students to engage in a critical assessment of Britain’s European policies since 1945.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

  1. Analyse in a detailed manner how Britain’s relationship with the EU has evolved since 1945
  2. Compare and contrast key political concepts, such as sovereignty, interdependence, euroscepticism and exceptionalism when analysing Britain’s role in Europe
  3. Identify the ways in which membership of the EU has altered British politics
  4. Critically assess, across a breadth of topics, how Britain’s engagement with the EU reflects both continuity and change.

Teaching Information

A 1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar.

Assessment Information

1500-2000 word essay (25%) Learning Outcomes 1 and 2

2 hour written exam (75%). Learning Outcomes, 2, 3 and 4

Reading and References

  • A Geddes (2003) The European Union and British Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
  • A Jones (2007) Britain and the European Union (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press).
  • H. Young (1999) This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair (Basingstoke: Macmillan).
  • D. Watts and C. Pilkington (2005) Britain in the European Union Today (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
  • S. George (1998) An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press).