Brexit in Perspective

Course content

This course, while recognizing that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) is a topic of great interest in itself, considers the broader significance of Brexit. In particular, the course will consider what Brexit (as both an event and a deeper process) tells us about a range of political phenomena. The course is structured in a way that will allow students to familiarize themselves with the background to Brexit, the politics of the 2016 referendum, the subsequent Article 50 negotiations and the aftermath of the UK’s formal exit from the EU. But it will also require students to ask deep questions about this extraordinary period in UK and EU politics, connecting the discussion of Brexit to a series of key political science concerns. Weekly readings will combine the analysis and discussion of Brexit with at least one text that offers a broader perspective on the topic under discussion. The course should appeal to students with an interest in British and European politics, the politics of contemporary populism, the politics of crisis and (European) disintegration, international negotiation, and challenges to the post-war political economic order. The course will also reflect on how political and social scientists should go about studying a phenomenon like Brexit and the extent to which it is possible to generate generalizable conjectures from what might be seen as a highly peculiar and extremely contingent case. The course will think about Brexit as a multi-faceted phenomenon that is potentially about rather more than the questions of whether, when and how the UK should leave the EU.

The course will be structured as follows:

  1. 1. Introduction: the multiple crises of Brexit
  2. 2. Brexit and the 2016 referendum
  3. 3. Brexit: the revenge of the ‘left behinds’?
  4. 4. Brexit and how not to play a two level game: the Article 50 negotiations
  5. 5. Brexit and ‘awkwardness’: the UK and European integration
  6. 6. Brexit, Englishness and the territorial politics of the UK
  7. 7. Brexit and (British) capitalism
  8. 8. Brexit and Empire: Global Britain?
  9. 9. Brexit and party politics
  10. 10. Brexit and the ‘will of the people’
  11. 11. Brexit and (European) disintegration
  12. 12. Brexit and (the end of) liberal internationalism
  13. 13. Brexit and contingency: issues of explanation and generalisation
  14. 14. Conclusion

Bachelor: 7,5 ECTS

Kandidat: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome


  • have a clear understanding of the main academic and policy debates surrounding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union:
  • have a good knowledge of how the Brexit process has evolved and of the dilemmas and complexities that are associated with it:
  • have a solid understanding of how the topic of Brexit speaks to broader debates and issues in the social sciences;
  • have in-depth knowledge (as demonstrated by the completion of a written assignment) of one or more key aspects of Brexit and its/their broader significance to scholarly debate.



  • demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively with fellow students on relevant problem-solving and discussion tasks;
  • demonstrate skill (either individually or collaboratively) in developing a executing a written piece of work on a topic of interest that falls within the relevant thematic parameters of the course;
  • demonstrate an interest in and an ability to connect urgent policy debates with deeper scholarly puzzles;.



  • be able to time manage weekly reading assignments as well as planning n extended piece of work over a period of several weeks;
  • show the ability to work in a structured and systematic manner;
  • be well placed to move on to further or advanced study of cognate topics and issue areas

Mini-lectures, small group exercises (including role plays and problem-solving tasks), plenary debates.

This is an indicative list of some of the core readings. A full reading list (pensum) will be available in December 2020.

R. Adler-Nissen, C. Galpin and B. Rosamond ‘Performing Brexit: how a post-Brexit world is imagined outside of the United Kingdom’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19(3), 2017, pp. 573-591.

O. Daddow ‘Global BritainTM: the discursive construction of Britain’s post-Brexit world role’, Global Affairs 5(1), 2019, pp. 5-22.

P. Diamond, P. Nedergaard and B. Rosamond (eds) Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Brexit, Routledge 2018.

A. Favell ‘Brexit: a requiem for the post-national society?’, Global Discourse 9(1), 2019, 157-168.

T. Fetzer ‘Did austerity cause Brexit?’, American Economic Review 109(11), 2019, pp. 3849-3886.

C. Hay ‘Brexistential angst and the paradoxes of populism: on the contingency, predictability and intelligibility of seismic shifts’, Political Studies, online first, 2019

A. Henderson et al ‘How Brexit was made in England’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19(4), 2017, pp. 631-646.

K. Hayward and M.C. Murphy ’The EU’s influence on the peace process and agreement in Northern ireland in light of Brexit’, Ethnopolitics 17(3), pp. 276-291.

S.B. Hobolt ’The Brexit vote: a divided nation, a divided continent’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(9), 2016, pp. 1259-1277.

J. Hopkin ’When Polanyi met Farage: market fundamentalism, economic nationalism and Britain’s exit from the European Union’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19(3), 2017, pp. 465-478

I Manners ’Political psychology of European integration: the (re)production of identity and difference in the Brexit debate’, Political Psychology 39(6), pp. 1213-1232.

N. McEwen ’Brexit and Scotland: between two unions’, British Politics 13(1), 2018, pp. 65-78.

P. Murray-Evans ’Myths of Commonwealth betrayal: UK-Africa trade before and after Brexit’, Round Table 105(5), pp. 489-498.

B. Rosamond ’Brexit and the politics of UK growth models’, New Political Economy 24(3), 2019, pp. 408-421.

B. Rosamond ‘European integration and the politics of economic ideas: Economics, economists and market contestation in the Brexit debate’, Journal of Common Market Studies, online first, 2020

F. Schimmelfennig ’Brexit: differentiated disintegration in the European Union’, Journal of European Public Policy 25(8) , 2018, pp. 1154-1173.

H. Thompson ’Inevitability and contingency: the political economy of Brexit’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 19(3), 2017, pp. 434-449.

S. Virdee and B. McGeever ’Racism, crisis, Brexit’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(10), 2018, pp. 1802-1819.

A. Weale The Will of the People: A Modern Myth, Polity Press, 2018.

R. Whitman ‘The UK’s European diplomatic strategy for Brexit and beyond’, International Affairs 95(2), 2019, pp. 383-404.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
  • Students will be encouraged to discuss with the course convenor their ideas for written assignments from conception to advanced planning stage;
  • A portion of one session will be devoted to discussing the results of the mid-term evaluation, which will be administered via a questionnaire distributed in advance;
  • There will be regular general discussions of the expectations regarding assignments.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free Written Assignement
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

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

Single subject courses (day)

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