ASTK15441U  COURSE: Theorising European Integration

Volume 2017/2018

Elective in the Specialisation in European Union

The Course is open to all students in the department

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS
Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


The course is intended – through a detailed analysis of how European integration and the European Union have been theorized – to show how theoretical speculation is a central and indispensable part of political analysis. The EU is an especially interesting object of theoretical discussion because its apparent historical novelty suggests that scholarship will have to find new sets of tools to explain and understand it. This raises a set of broad social science questions, which this course aims to consider. The course aims to explore the relationship between the development of theoretical discussion about European integration on the one hand and the institutional and policy evolution of the EU on the other.


  1. Introduction – the role of theory in EU studies

  2. What is European integration? What is the EU?

  3. Theories of European post-nationalism from Kant to the 1950s

  4. Classical integration theory 1: Neofunctionalism

  5. Classical integration theory 2: intergovernmentalism and liberal intergovernmentalism

  6. Comparative political science and the EU

  7. Governance and public policy approaches

  8. International relations 1: ‘actorness’, power, security

  9. International relations 2: the EU, regionalism and comparative regionalism

  10. Rationalism versus constructivism?

  11. Normative political theory and the EU

  12. ‘Critical’ theories and dissident voices in EU studies

  13. European integration theory, social science and the sociology of knowledge

  14. Conclusions: European dis-integration?

Competency description

This course offers a comprehensive and detailed overview of the character and evolution of conceptual and theoretical work on European integration and the EU. As such it will be useful grounding for students taking other courses on EU institutions and policy making and the EU’s role in the international system.. The course seeks to enhance key analytical and critical skills that are transferable beyond academic study to a wide range of careers. The focus on European integration makes the course especially suitable for students interested in developing careers in international and supranational institutions.

Learning Outcome

On completion of the course, students should (a) be able to demonstrate familiarity with the main theories of integration and EU politics, (b) be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between theories of integration and the evolution of the EU and to show competence to apply theories of integration in the empirical context of the EU, (c) be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of different theories and (d) be able to relate discussions about theories of European integration and the EU to broader social scientific concerns.

An extensive week-by-week reading list, featuring core and supplementary reading for each topic will be made available in August 2016. The following list offers an illustration of some of the key texts used on the course:

Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, M (ed) Debates on European Integration: A Reader (Palgrave Macmillan 2006)

Jørgensen, K.E, Pollack, M and Rosamond, B (eds) Handbook of European Union Politics (Sage 2007)

Rosamond, B Theories of European Integration (Macmillan 2000)

Saurugger, S Theoretical Approaches to European Integration (Palgrave Macmillan 2014)

Wiener, A and Diez, T European Integration Theory, 2nd edition (Oxford University Press 2009)


Students should have a solid basic understanding of the main approaches to political theory and international relations theory. A background in other social science fields is also valid. Prior study of the EU is not essential, but is useful. The course is offered as an option for the master specialization on the European Union, but it is open to all qualified students.
The course uses a mixture of mini-lectures, small-group problem-solving/​discussion exercises, role-plays, and plenary debates.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28