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Unit information: The Politics of Brexit in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name The Politics of Brexit
Unit code POLIM0043
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Perez-Solorzano Borragan
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 introduces students to the complex and unprecedented process of a member state leaving the European Union. The unit draws on the case study of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit) and its consequences. In this unit Brexit is conceived of as a critical juncture in the development of European integration with far-reaching consequences for the UK and the EU and their future relationship. The unit traces the nature of British exceptionalism in Europe to provide a context to the June 2016 referendum and its outcome. It discusses the process of leaving the EU in detail by focusing on actors, agendas and balance on power. A solution to the internal border in the island of Ireland and the end to free movement of people in the UK will be analysed in detail in order to unpack the complexity of the Brexit negotiations. Drawing on IPE and IR the unit explores scenarios for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The unit concludes with an analysis of the impact of Brexit for the EU and an assessment of the scholarly contributions theorising Brexit as European disintegration and de-Europeanisation.

The aim of this unit is to develop students’ critical understanding of:

  1. British exceptionalism in Europe.
  2. Factors, influences, and actors shaping the outcome of the Brexit referendum.
  3. Institutional and power dynamics shaping the Brexit negotiation process under Article 50 TEU
  4. The complexity of the Brexit negotiations process.
  5. The effect of Brexit on the European Union (institutions, policies, international outlook)
  6. The scenarios for a future UK-EU relationship post-Brexit
  7. Key scholarly debates in the study of Brexit, their uses and limits.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students will:

  1. Have acquired a knowledge of the causes explaining the UK’s exit from the EU
  2. Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the process of negotiating Brexit
  3. Be able to demonstrate their critical engagement with key debates that link the UK’s exit from the EU with the development of European integration
  4. Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of Brexit on the European Union and on the future relationship between the UK and the EU
  5. Be able to demonstrate their ability to integrate theoretical and empirical materials
  6. Develop their ability to write articulately, concisely and persuasively
  7. Develop their ability to deliver articulate, concise, persuasive and well-paced presentations

ILOs 1-5 & 7 are met by the presentation

ILOs 1-6 are met by the essay

Teaching Information

10 x 2hr seminars. In addition to 20 hours of classroom time, students are expected to devote approximately 180 hours to independent reading, seminar preparation, essay writing and exam revision.

Assessment Information

Formative: Individual presentation based on closed textual analysis of primary sources

Summative: 4,000-word essay.

Reading and References

  • Armstrong, K. A. (2017) Brexit Time: Leaving the EU - Why, How and When?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Closa, C. (ed) (2017) Secession from a Member State and Withdrawal from the European Union: Troubled Membership, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Diamond, P.; Nedergaard, P.; Rosamond, B.; Lequesne, C. (eds) (2018) The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Brexit, Routledge, London
  • Fabbrini, F. (eds) (2017) The Law and Politics of Brexit, Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • McGowan, L. (2018) Preparing for Brexit: Actors, Negotiations and Consequences, Palgrave Macmilllan, Basingstoke