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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Frank Wendler
POL S 448
Seattle Campus

Politics of the European Union

Examines the origins, structures, and political dynamics of the European Union. Attention given to theories of integration, to relations between the European Union and member states, and to the role of the European Union in world politics.

Class description


Course description: After six decades of political integration, the European Union (EU) has fundamentally changed the government and politics of its Member States. As the competences of the EU have grown to include a common currency, a joint foreign policy and Union citizenship, political decision-making in the nation-state has been transformed into a new form of European multi-level governance that evolves through the interaction of domestic and supranational institutions and decision-making procedures. From a political science perspective, the EU therefore represents a unique process of polity construction beyond the nation-state that raises questions of empirical description, theoretical explanation, and critical normative evaluation: What were the factors that gave rise to the process of European integration, and why has it continued to expand from initially 6 to 28 Member States? Can we compare processes of political representation, decision-making and legitimization in the EU to those in the nation-state? How well does the involvement of citizens through elections to the European Parliament, referenda, and the introduction of citizen initiatives work? And as the contentiousness of European policies has visibly grown particularly through the Eurozone crisis, are there proposals to connect the EU more to public debates and citizens and render its decision-making more democratic?

Against the background of these questions, the course will introduce you into the institutions, decision-making procedures and main policies of the EU. Apart from exploring the political system of the EU, we will study some of the main theoretical approaches and concepts used for the analysis of the EU and address some of the conceptual and normative questions outlined above. An emphasis will be laid on questions of political conflict, public debate, and perspectives of politicization and democratization.

Student learning goals

- Knowledge of EU institutions and decision-making processes

- Knowledge of key theoretical and analytical approaches towards the study of the EU

- Knowledge of the historical background and evolution of European integration

- Knowledge of discussions concerning the democratic legitimacy of EU governance

- Individual research into a selected topic covered in the course, resulting in a problem-oriented term paper

General method of instruction

- Lectures, including Q & A - Discussion of assigned readings - Short presentations by students - Discussion - Working groups

Recommended preparation

- Basic knowledge of comparative politics and international relations literatures - Basic knowledge of current debates and events in the context of EU governance

Class assignments and grading

- Regular, active and informed participation (20%) - In-class presentation (20%) - Written mid-term exam (30%) - Term paper (30%)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Frank Wendler
Date: 07/12/2013