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Unit information: European Foreign Policy in 2015/16

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Unit name European Foreign Policy
Unit code SPAI30022
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Anna Maria Friis
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

The European Union has gradually become a global actor. Such a development raises important questions: what sort of international actor is the EU? What objectives, interest and values does it promote worldwide? How does a union of 27 sovereign states coordinate a common foreign policy? What are the pitfalls and potentials inherent in this development? The unit will familiarise the students with key concepts and main theoretical approaches to the study of the EU in world politics. The unit will also provide an empirically informed understanding of the EU's global role across a wide range of policies, including external economic policies, development, the environment, and foreign and security policies. The unit will take a closer look at the EU's relations with several regions (the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe) and countries (the US, Russia and China). In addition, this unit will offer students the opportunity to engage with current debates about the EU's actorness in world politics and the projection of the EU's external identity and values beyond its contested borders.


  • To explore and evaluate the historical evolution of the European Union as an international actor.
  • To provide a critical understanding of the concepts and theories used in the study of the European Union's external relations.
  • To examine the formulation and conduct of EU external policies.
  • To offer an evaluation of the wide range of EU external policies on a thematic basis, as well as the EU's relations with several countries and regions.
  • To develop a critical assessment of current debates relating to the EU as an international actor.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this unit students will:

  • Demonstrate substantive knowledge of key concepts and theories used in the study of EU external relations.
  • Show familiarity with the process of formulation and implementation of EU external policies.
  • Have an ability to understand and assess the EUs international role across several policies and regions.
  • Have an understanding of the contemporary debates about the EU as an international actor.
  • Have an ability to plan and write a well-structured role position paper.

Teaching Information

Option 1 - A 1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar

Option 2 - A 3hr seminar

Assessment Information

Formative: 750 word research paper plan (including formulate research paper question)

Summative: 3000 word research paper (100%).

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes.

Reading and References

  • Bretherton, Charlotte and Vogler, John (2006) The European Union as a Global Actor, London: Routledge, 2nd ed.
  • Carlsnaes, Walter, Sjursen, Helene and White, Brian (eds) (2004) Contemporary European Foreign Policy, London: Sage.
  • Hill, Christopher and Smith, Michael (eds.) (2005), International Relations and the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Keukeleire, Stephan, and MacNaughtan, Jennifer (2008) The foreign policy of the European Union, Houndsmill: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Smith, Hazel, (2001) European Union Foreign Policy: What it Is and What it Does, London: Pluto.
  • Smith, Karen E. (2008) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2nd ed.