Cancelled The European Union’s External Actions

Course content

How can we best understand the European Union’s External Actions 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 External Actions 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 physical, material, or normative power in its External Actions 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 External Actions 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: 7,5 ECTS

Kandidat: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

Knowledge and understanding of the discipline of political science

The masters’ elective course in ‘The European Union’s External Actions’ 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.

Practical competence in employment-related activities in political science

The masters’ elective course in ‘The European Union’s External Actions’ 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 masters’ elective course in ‘The European Union’s External Actions’ helps masters-level students develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and communication skills through group-based Active Learning activities.

This masters-level Active Learning elective course requires Preparation, Participation, Positive
attitude, in order to pass the Portfolio exam:
- Preparation means that the course uses Active Learning pedagogy with a constructive alignment
between learning goals, learning activities, and assessment. Students will participate in weekly
learning activities designed to ensure constructive alignment and must prepare accordingly in order to pass.
- Participation means that students will be participating in course-long learning activities and
draft assignment writing activities in order to pass.
- Positive attitude means that students will constructively participate in the weekly group learning
activities which form the core of the course in order to pass.
- Portfolio exam means that the course is passed by submitting two compulsory assignments
during the course.

Bindi, Federiga (ed.) (2020) The Foreign Policy of the European Union: Assessing Europe's Role in the World, 3rd edn. (Washington: Brookings).
Bradford, Anu (2020) The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Diez, Thomas, and Nathalie Tocci (eds.) (2018) The EU, Promoting Regional Integration, and Conflict Resolution (London: Palgrave).
Ekengren, Magnus (2018) Explaining the European Union's Foreign Policy: A Practice Theory of Translocal Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Gstöhl, Sieglinde, and David Phinnemore (2019) The Proliferation of Privileged Partnerships between the European Union and its Neighbours (London: Routledge)
Gstöhl, Sieglinde, and Simon Schunz (eds.) (2021) Studying the European Union’s External Action: Concepts, Approaches, Theories (London: Palgrave) [TEXTBOOK]
Hadfield, Amelia, Ian Manners , and Richard Whitman (eds.) (2017) The Foreign Policies of European Union Member States (London: Routledge). [TEXTBOOK]
Hill, Christopher, Michael Smith, Sophie Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2017) International Relations and the European Union, 3rd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Johansson-Nogués, Elisabeth, Martijn Vlaskamp, and Esther Barbé (eds) (2019) European Union Contested: Foreign Policy in a New Global Context (Cham: Springer).
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).
Poletti, Arlo, and Daniela Sicurelli (2018) The Political Economy of Normative Trade Power Europe (Palgrave).
Teti, Andrea, Pamela Abbott, Valeria Talbot, and Paolo Maggiolini (2020) Democratisation against Democracy: How EU Foreign Policy Fails the Middle East (London: Palgrave).
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).
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).

BA level in political science, international relations, or similar competence, and a passion for understanding the EU’s External Actions.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Feedback is via group-based peer-to-peer Active Learning activities.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
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