European Union Normative Power in Planetary Politics

Course content

How can we best understand the European Union in planetary politics? 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 elective sets out to examine the EU’s normative power in planetary politics by rethinking the nature of power and actorness in a planetary political era. This examination involves, first, understanding conceptual, theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the EU in planetary politics. Second, the EU’s use different forms of power, in particular physical, material and normative power, will be studied through the analysis of five different spheres through a series of ten case studies. Finally, the course will examine whether it is possible to characterise the EU as a particular type of planetary 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 planetary politics than other international actors?


The elective course consists of nine 3-hour sessions placing a heavy emphasis on Active Learning through case study work. The course begins by introducing the differing understandings of EU actorness, normative and other forms of power, and planetary politics. The course will then examine a series of five different spheres of planetary politics using ten case studies with the normative power analytical framework by contrasting the use of physical, material and normative power. The ten case studies cover the principles of sustainable peace and law; freedom and social solidarity; human rights and equality; sustainable development and climate change; democracy and good governance. The course concludes by asking if the EU can be characterised as a ‘European communion’ in planetary politics, and whether there is any significant role for the EU in changing planetary politics?


Preliminary plan:

1. Introduction: European Union Normative Power in Planetary Politics

2. Contextualising and Understanding the EU in Planetary Politics

3. Conflictual Planetary Politics: Peace and Law

4. Economic Planetary Politics: Freedom and Social Solidarity

5. Social Planetary Politics: Human Rights and Equality

6. Environmental Planetary Politics: Sustainable Development and Climate Change

7. Political Planetary Politics: Democracy and Good Governance

8. European communion: the EU in planetary politics

9. EU in changing planetary politics


Bachelor student (2012 programme curriculum): 10 ECTS

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome

[1] Knowledge and understanding of the discipline of political science

The elective course in ‘European Union Normative Power in Planetary Politics’ encourages students to know and understand the EU as an actor in planetary politics. Students studying this seminar will become knowledgeable with theories of global actorness and power in order to understand how changing planetary politics are important for the EU.


[2] Practical competence in employment-related activities in political science

The elective course in ‘European Union Normative Power in Planetary Politics’ 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.


[3] Intellectual and transferable skills in political and social sciences

The elective course in ‘European Union Normative Power in Planetary Politics’ helps students develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and communication skills through group-based Active Learning activities.

This Active Learning elective course highly recommends:
Preparation, Participation, Positive attitude, and Portfolio exam:

Preparation means that the course uses Active Learning pedagogy with a constructive alignment between learning goals, learning activities, and assessment. Students is encouraged to participate in weekly learning activities designed to ensure constructive alignment and must prepare accordingly.

Participation means that students is encouraged to be participating in course-long learning activities and draft assignment writing activities.

Positive attitude means that students is encouraged to constructively participate in the weekly group learning activities which form the core of the course.

Portfolio exam means that the course is passed by submitting two compulsory assignments during the course. The extend of each assignment is as follows:

The extent of the assignment may not exceed: 7.5 ECTS
For one student: 19.200 keystrokes
(8 standard pages)
For two students: 24.000 keystrokes
(10 standard pages)
For three students: 28.800 keystrokes
(12 standard pages)

Students who do not wish to learn through a constructive alignment of learning goals, learning activities, and assessment is not recommended to take this course.

Bindi, Federica, and Irina Angelescu (eds.) (2012) The Foreign Policy of the European Union, 2nd edn. (Washington: Brookings).


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


Blavoukos, Spyros,  and Dimitrios Bourantonis (2018) The EU in UN Politics: Actors, Processes and Performances (London: Palgrave).


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).


Ekengren, Magnus (2018) Explaining the European Union's Foreign Policy: A Practice Theory of Translocal Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).


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).


Kavalski, Emilian (2012) Central Asia and the Rise of Normative Powers: Contextualizing the Security Governance of the European Union, China, and India (Bloomsbury).


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).


Morillas, Pol (2018) Strategy-Making in the EU: From Foreign and Security Policy to External Action (London: Palgrave).


Neuman, Marek (2018) Democracy Promotion and the Normative Power Europe Framework: The European Union in South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (Springer).


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).


Poletti, Arlo, and Daniela Sicurelli (2018) The Political Economy of Normative Trade Power Europe (Palgrave).


Sinkkonen, Ville (2015) A Comparative Appraisal of Normative Power: The European Union, the United States and the January 25th, 2011 Revolution in Egypt (Brill).


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).


Voloshin, Georgiy (2018) The European Union's Normative Power in Central Asia: Promoting Values and Defending Interests (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).


Zupančič, Rok, and Nina Pejič (2018) Limits to the European Union's Normative Power in a Post-conflict Society: EULEX and Peacebuilding in Kosovo (Springer).


A detailed list of readings will be provided during the course.

This elective is mostly aimed at Master’s students, a BA level in political science is therefore highly recommended. International relations, or similar competence, and an interest in understanding political cinema.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • 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

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28