Course Syllabus

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Semester & Location:

Fall 2021 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Brussels, Belgium

Major Disciplines:

Political Science, International Relations, Government 


Two political science courses at university level, with at least one focusing on either international relations or comparative politics.

Faculty Members:

Martin Cleemann Rasmussen

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo -

Time & Place:

Monday/Thursday 8.30-9.50, V10-A32

Description of Course

The European integration has been one of the most decisive developments since the Second World War. Europe was destroyed and the main question was how to avoid a new war in Europe in the light of the Cold War. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 Europe has experienced a remarkable transformation with significant consequences for the region’s most important international organization, the European Union.

Externally, the EU has slowly been emerging as a major player on the world scene, while internally the system attempts to strike a balance between continued enlargement and further political integration. However, lately, the European Union and the European cooperation are facing its most serious crisis after Brexit, the so-called refugee crisis, the aftermath of the financial crisis as well as the ongoing Corona Pandemic.

What is the European Union, what are its policies and what is it developing into? What are the forces shaping Europe’s future? How does the nationstate co-exist with(-in) the EU? Who are the major actors - in the EU and outside? Will the European Union survive the many challenges and crisis? This course examines these question to understand the EU, its partners and rivals, the crises, and the future.


The course traces the development of European integration from the origins to the latest decades. It analyses the role and transformation of a nation state from its historical national role into a modern regional and European context (The case-study of Denmark). The course will examine the structures and major actors shaping the European Union. Current challenges facing the European Union, such as the post-brexit relations, the Migrant Crisis, and contestation and co-operation between the EU and European governments will be studied. Case studies and simulation-games of security- and political events unfolding during the semester will be used during the course.

I: Introduction, history, institutions, and methology

II: Core Course Week 1: Guest lectures, field studies and short Study Tour 

III: Policies of the EU

IV: Core Course Week: Long Study Tour: Visit to Brussels, Belgium

V: Current issues and struggles over Europe and its near abroad (this element will also be integrated earlier on according to development of events) 

Learning Objectives

  • Students will gain an understanding of what the EU is in theory and especially in practice by studying the forces governing contemporary European politics and security, the competing interests influencing the policies of the European Union, the functioning of EU institutions, the decision-making processes, and the significance of the EU for European integration.
  • Students will, through selected readings and class discussion, gain a view of international relations from the European and EU member state perspectives, and a particular understanding of the contemporary key issues on agenda of the Union, including Brexit, Migration, Corona-response and Security and Defence policy.
  • Finally, students will increase their ability to analyze and discuss complex political issues.


Martin Cleemann Rasmussen 

MA (Russian and History, University of Copenhagen 2004, graduated on Civil-Military relations in Russia, 1993-99). Associate professor at the Royal Danish Officer Academy (2011- ) and the Danish Defence College (2018- ), Senior Advisor NordGEN at the Nordic Council of Ministers 2005-2009 on Russia and the CIS. Various positions as translator and as leader on many visits to Russia by Danish and foreign students and tourist groups as well as on several battle field tours. Also teach classes at DIS on Terrorism and counter-terrorism, Espionage during the Cold War, the European Game of politics, and Danish Politics and society. With DIS since 2015.


We will mainly read from the two edited volumes on the EU. These books should be picked up during the arrivals workshop.

  • Daniel Kenealy, John Peterson, and Richard Corbett, The European Union: How does it work?, 2018.
  • Sophie Vanhoonacker, The EU as a system of IR, in International Relations and the European Union. 2017

Additional articles and supplemental material might be added during the course to reflect current and developing issues and events.  

Expectations of the Students


The course consists of a series of lectures, guest lectures, a field study, study tours and manual simulation games. Attendance is mandatory. The readings provide the basis for class work, student presentations and discussion in each lecture and you may be called upon randomly. All obligatory readings, lectures, guest lectures, field studies, study tours and manual simulation games are drawn upon for tests and papersAdditional material will be distributed during the course.        

Manual Simulations

The course includes manual simulation games, in which students “representing” decision makers (EU member states, key EU institutions and other actors in international politics) will negotiate  issues following outlays as well as abstractions of the negotiation format of the EU Council of Ministers, European Council and international top-political-summits .

Purpose: To get in-depth knowledge of issues currently topping the EU agenda and experience how negotiations take place in the Council of Ministers or European Council and international top-summits.




Midterm Exam


Participation on Study Tours, Including Student Presentations and engaging on all visits and with guest speakers


Research paper 


Participation in and preparation for classes, and field studies


Participation in all phases of the simulation games 



Core Course Week and Study Tours

Core Course week and study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how theory presented in the classroom is translated into practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on two study tours; a short study tour during Core Course Week and a long study tour to Brussels.



Topics and readings

Material covered so far in the course

Your answers

When answering the factual questions it is important to be precise. When answering the essay type

questions it is important that you give discursive and analytical answers using relevant





  • 4-5 pages if individual,
  • 10-12 pages per group (2 persons).
  • One page equals 300 words.
  • Use ”Writing Papers at DIS” as your guideline. You may see “How to write a paper”, by Stephen Van Evera (Both readings can be found on DIS Forum under EPS files section) The paper should be analytical and investigative. Use statistics, official information, articles, research papers, readings from class, interviews, etc. If possible, try to integrate your own data gained via your interviews in Brussels if they can fit into your desired research topics.


You can choose your topic within the field of European Politics: The European Union and discuss it with me in or after class.

There will be an essay writing workshop where you will receive feedback on your research ideas. If you have additional questions you are always welcome to schedule an individual meeting with me.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 



DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due