Core Subject: Important Challenges in European Governance: Lobbying and Interest Groups

Course content

The goals and values of the European Union and, more broadly, those common to countries on the European continent, are constantly put under stress by many external and internal developments. Charges of a ‘democratic deficit’ are frequently raised, both regarding decision-making at the European Union level, but also regarding national political processes. Despite the legislative procedures in place to formalize political competences, the location of power in decision-making is frequently debated. Which levels of decision-making and which actors are and should be involved in tackling the prime questions and challenges facing Europe?


This course will engage with such (legitimacy) challenges, and the actors involved in them. It will place special attention on the relationships between state and non-state actors and assess these from different perspectives, including efficiency and feasibility considerations, as well as  normative implications. In the course, we will examine theories and empirical research on how organized interests organize in the first place, are governed internally, enter and interact with each other in populations or interest communities, and seek to influence policy.


Core subject in the core subject track in European Politics. Only accessible to students who are admitted to European Politics.


NB! All exams (both ordinary and re-exams) will take place at the end of the autumn semesters only, as the course is not offered in the spring

Learning outcome


At the end of the course students will have learned to:

  • Identify and describe challenges regarding interest representation at in Europe and at EU-level
  • Give an account of the role of non-state actors in modern policy making from a comparative perspective,  considering different interest systems such as neo-corporatist and pluralist systems
  • Understand the main perspectives on the interest production process in terms of mobilisation, strategy choice, access to political gatekeepers and, potentially, influence on policy outcomes




Students will have trained the following skills:

  • The ability to apply theoretical perspectives on the relationships between policy-makers and organised interests
  • The ability to select and design suitable methods to assess the role and success of  organised interests, such as qualitative or quantitative (text) analysis, interviews, surveys methods etc.
  • The ability to develop and support an argument on whether and how organised interests undermine or facilitate democratic politics in Europe




Students should have fostered the following competences:

  • Independent reflection on representation in Europe based on the academic literature
  • Critical analysis of the scope, nature and/or effect of the involvement of organised interests in decision-making, including the formulation of theoretical expectations and observable implications.
  • Evaluation  of  the benefits, challenges and implications of the activities of organised interests on modern decision-making

Revised 3 May 2022:

The course is structured into different parts that trace how non-state actors (try to) exert political influence in the EU and its member states. Classes will be conducted in seminar-style with emphasis on discussion of advanced readings on related topics. It is expected that students prepare for class by following weekly reading guidelines that structure potential questions regarding that weeks’ literature.

Class participation then involves a) discussing several book chapters and research articles during classes (guided by the teacher) and b) participating in (group) exercises to apply arguments, findings or lobbying tools in practical terms. The participation class discussions and exercises is designed to prepare students for the oral exam.

Revised 3 May 2022:

Two textbooks are assigned for the course and are listed below. However, much of our reading will be the academic journal literature on lobbying and interest groups. Several articles per week will be assigned.



  • Klüver, H. (2013). Lobbying in the European Union: interest groups, lobbying coalitions, and policy change. Oxford University Press.
  • Crepaz, M., Junk, W. M., Hanegraaff, M. and Berkhout, J. (2022). Viral Lobbying. Strategies, Access and Influence During the COVID-19 Pandemic. De Gruyter (Forthcoming)


Useful background reading

  • Baumgartner, F. R., Berry, J. M., Hojnacki, M., Leech, B. L., & Kimball, D. C. (2009). Lobbying and policy change: Who wins, who loses, and why. University of Chicago Press.
  • Mahoney, C. (2008) Brussels Versus the Beltway, Washington DC, Georgetown University Press.
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Type of assessment details
Synopsis and oral examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Synopsis/Mundtlig eksamen med forberedelse/ Mundtlig eksamen uden forberedelse

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment


NB! All exams (both ordinary and re-exams) will take place at the end of the autumn semesters only, as the course is not offered in the spring

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


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Wiebke Marie Junk   (11-7d6f6b68716b34707b7471466f6c7934717b346a71)
Saved on the 28-04-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students