EU and IR


This course deals with the links between the European Union (EU) and International Relations (IR). It addresses how the academic field of International Relations has theorized both the European Union’s integration and its role in Global Politics. For analytical purposes, the European Union will be considered as an international organization (IO). Notwithstanding its specific characteristics, this conceptual move allows to analyse the European Union through the lens of International Relations theories.

This course will present various IR theoretical perspectives to illuminate different questions pertaining to the EU and more specifically to its role in the field of global security. It will look at three major themes: European Union and Integration theories ; EU power or not? EU in Global Security; Dynamics of IOs: the case of the EU. This course explores some questions such as: Is the European Union an actor, or even a « power » in IR? How can one explain its role? Who governs IOs? What impact do their policies produce?

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

Some prior knowledge in European studies and IR is welcome but not compulsory.

Form of assessment

The number of ECTS credits and the assessment methods are likely to be different for students in credit exchange programmes.


  • Hill C., Smith M., Vanhoonacker S., International relations and the European Union, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, New York, 2017.
  • Howorth J., Security and defence policy in the European Union, 2 ed., The European Union series, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2014. 
  • Mérand F., European defence policy : beyond the nation state, Oxford University Press, New York, 2008.
  • Missiroli A., The EU and the world : players and policies post-Lisbon. A handbook, EU Institute for Security Studies, Paris, 2016. 
  • Smith K.E., European Union foreign policy in a changing world, 3rd edition, Polity, Cambridge Malden, 2014. 

Educational formula

The pedagogical objectives of the course are manifold: it aims at exploring IR theoretical lenses by applying them to the EU; it offers empirical knowledge about various dimensions of the EU’s foreign policy (historical evolutions, main actors, etc.) ; it helps students to link analytical skills with current political debates.

While its evaluation is mostly concentrated in a written final exam, this course is nonetheless based on the active participation of students in class. This requires students to engage seriously with weekly readings, ie. understand their empirical content but also reflect on their perspective (their question, their theoretical approach, their methodology and data). This is necessary at the Masters’ level.

In brief

Year Fourth year

Teaching languageEnglish

Teaching term Six-monthly

ECTS credits 2.0

Number of hours 18.0

Teaching activityLecture course

ValidationFinal written examination

Mandatory teaching

Open to exchange students



Educational manager :
Hoeffler Catherine [+]