ASTK15672U COURSE: European Union as Global Actor

Volume 2017/2018

Master: 7,5 ECTS

Bachelor: 10 ECTS



Wednesdays 13-16



How can we best understand the European Union as a global actor? The most popular approaches to this question seek to answer it in a number of ways – by comparing it with other actors such as states, regional organisations or international organisations – or by declaring it unique and beyond comparison. This masters’ seminar sets out to examine the EU in global politics by rethinking the nature of power and actorness in a globalising, multilateralising and multipolarising era. This examination involves, first, understanding conceptual, theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the EU as a global actor. Second, the EU’s use different forms of power, in particular physical, material and normative power, will be studied through a series of ten case studies. Finally, the seminar will examine whether it is possible to characterise the EU as a particular type of international actor through the comparative assessment of the case studies. This will allow students to answer the question of whether the EU is more or less prone to use of normative power in global politics than other international actors? 


Preliminary plan:


1. Understanding and theorising the EU as a Global Actor

2. History and policymaking of the EU as a Global Actor

Global Actions: case studies

3. Sustainable Peace

4. Freedom

5. Democracy

6. Human Rights

7. Rule of Law

8. Equality

9. Social Solidarity

10. Sustainable Development

11. Climate Change

12. Good Governance


13. European communion: the EU as a global actor

14. EU in changing planetary politics

Learning Outcome


Knowledge and understanding of the discipline of political science: The course in ‘European Union as Global Actor’ encourages students to know and understand the EU as an actor in planetary politics. Students studying this course will become knowledgeable with theories of global actorness in order to understand how changing planetary politics are important for the EU.



Practical competence in employment-related activities in political science: The course in ‘European Union as Global Actor’ enables students to become competent in employment-related activities such as understanding the EU’s external actions, recognising the role of EU member states in external actions, analysing EU policy in the planetary politics of global economy, society, environment, and conflict.



Intellectual and transferable skills in political and social sciences: The course in ‘European Union as a Global Actor’ helps students develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and communication skills through group-based Active Learning activities.

Björkdahl, Annika, Natalia Chaban, John Leslie and Annick Masselot (eds.) (2015) Importing European Union Norms: Conceptual Framework and Empirical Findings (New York: Springer).


Boening, Astrid, Jan-Frederik Kremer and Aukje van Loon (eds.) (2013) Global Power Europe - Vol. 1: Theoretical and Institutional Approaches to the EU's External Relations (Berlin: Springer).


Boening, Astrid, Jan-Frederik Kremer and Aukje van Loon (eds.) (2013) Global Power Europe - Vol. 2: Policies, Actions and Influence of the EU's External Relations (Berlin: Springer).


Carta, Caterina, and Jean-Frédéric Morin (eds.) (2014) Making Sense of Diversity: EU Foreign Policy through the Lens of Discourse Analysis (Farnham:  Ashgate).


da Conceição-Heldt, Eugénia, and Sophie Meunier (eds.) (2017) Speaking With a Single Voice: The EU as an effective actor in global governance? (London: Routledge).


Duke, Simon (2016) Europe as a Stronger Global Actor: Challenges and Strategic Responses (London: Palgrave).


Debaere, Peter (2015) EU Coordination in International Institutions: Policy and Process in Gx Forums (London: Palgrave).


Hadfield, Amelia, Ian Manners, and Richard Whitman (eds.) (2017) The Foreign Policies of European Union Member States (London: Routledge).


Hill, Christopher, Michael Smith, Sophie Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2017) International Relations and the European Union, 3rd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


Keukeleire, Stephan, and Tom Delreux (2014) The Foreign Policy of the European Union, 2nd edn. (Basingstoke: Palgrave).


Koops, Joachim, and Gjovalin Macaj (eds.) (2014) The European Union as a Diplomatic Actor (Basingstoke: Palgrave).


Nicolaïdis, Kalypso, and Richard Whitman (eds.) (2013) ‘Special Issue on Normative Power Europe’, Cooperation and Conflict, Vol. 48, No. 2.


Pardo, Sharon (2015) Normative Power Europe meets Europe: Perceptions and Realities (Lexington Books).


Pohl, Benjamin (2015) EU Foreign Policy and Crisis Management Operations: Power, purpose and domestic politics (London: Routledge).


Smith, Michael, Stephan Keukeleire, and Sophie Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2015) The Diplomatic System of the European Union: Evolution, change and challenges (London: Routledge).


Tocci, Nathalie (2017) Framing the EU Global Strategy: A Stronger Europe in a Fragile World (London: Palgrave).


Whitman, Richard (ed.) (2012) Normative Power Europe: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives (Basingstoke: Palgrave).


Woolcock, Stephen (2012) European Union Economic Diplomacy: The Role of the EU in External


Economic Relations (London: Ashgate).

Student must actively participate in the course through a series of group-based Active Learning activities. These activities provide the foundations for success in the final assessment.
BA level in political science, international relations, or similar competence, and an interest in understanding the European Union as a global actor.
This Active Learning course requires Preparation, Participation, and Positive attitude. Preparation means that the seminar takes the form of Active Learning involving continuous assignments. Participation means that students will be part of learning groups for their activities. Positive attitude means that students will constructively participate in the weekly group learning activities which form the core of the seminar.
Students who do not wish to learn through group activities, active participation, and continuous learning should not take this course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28

Continuous in-class feedback will be provide for group learning activities.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
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