Course Syllabus

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 EU Flagga

Semester & Location:

Spring 2022 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Short: Southern Denmark; Long: 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:

Milosz J. Cordes, PhD - Current Students: please contact your faculty using the canvas inbox function

Program contact:

Embla Thorsdottir-

Time & Place:

Monday & Thursday, 8.30-9.50 AM, N7-A21

Course Description

The European integration has been one of the most decisive developments since World War II and start of the Cold War. With the continent destroyed and divided, Western European leaders were tasked with avoiding further military conflicts and providing a solid platform for dialogue between nation-states. The achievements turned out to be so remarkable that, since the democratic transition of 1989-1991 in Central and Eastern Europe, the European Communities / the European Union have emerged as a major player on the global scene. This tendency peaked in 2004 when 10 new countries became EU members.

While internally the EU attempts to strike a balance between continued enlargement and further institutional integration, recently it has been facing serious tensions caused by the Brexit, rise of the populist movements, problems with rule of law in some member states, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, discussions around cohesive climate policy raise many doubts as they are believed to be not enough by some and unnecessary by others.

Externally, the European Union has become a key player in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. It is an area where historically strong geostrategic interests of Russia and its rivalry with the West has been complemented with growing presence of China. Although it is difficult for the highly bureaucratised EU to deal with oligarchic and authoritarian regimes capable of quick unilateral actions, it has managed to come up with a few soft power instruments, such as the Eastern Partnership.

What is the European Union? How did it come to life? What are the mechanisms and actors behind its main policies? How does it relate to the concept of the nation-state? How do European institutions navigate through challenges and crises? How does it deal with challenges abroad? This course seeks to address these questions.


The course traces the development of European integration from its post-war origins to the present day. It shows the decisive impact of the two world wars and the Cold War on the mindset of West European statesmen and the appeal the European Union has created since the 1989 democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe. It seeks to understand how nation-states agreed to embark on an ambitious track of creating an increasingly powerful intergovernmental body that would evolve into world's most complex international organisation with growing ambitions.

The course examines EU's structures and major actors shaping its everyday agenda, as well as its greatest challenges such as the post-Brexit relations, growing populist movements, the migratory crisis, climate change and authoritarian regimes on its borders. It will apply a variety of methods and tools, including case studies, guest lectures with experts and simulation games related to events from the past, as well as those unfolding during the semester.

The course consists of following modules:

I: Introduction, history and methodology

II: Core Course Week 1: Guest lectures, field studies and Short Study Tour to southern Denmark

III: EU institutions and policies (with a particular focus on enlargement and the foreign vector)

IV: Core Course Week 2: Long Study Tour: visit to Brussels, Belgium

V: Current issues and struggles within the EU, in foreign and security (this element will also be integrated earlier on according to course of events in EU's eastern neighbourhood), as well as climate policies

Learning Objectives

  • Students will gain an understanding of what the European Union constitutes by studying the forces governing contemporary European politics and security, the competing interests influencing the policies of the European Union, the functioning of its institutions, decision-making processes, and the significance of the EU for European reconciliation and integration.
  • Students will, through selected readings and class discussion, gain a overview of international relations from the EU's and its selected member states' perspectives, and a particular understanding of the key issues on EU's agenda, including the Brexit, migratory crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and developments in its vicinity (threat posed by Russia in Eastern Europe & South Caucasus and growing presence of China).
  • Finally, students will increase their ability to analyse and discuss complex political issues.


Milosz J. Cordes

PhD (Cultural Studies, SWPS University, Warsaw 2017), MA (East-European Cultural Studies, University of Warsaw 2012), MA (International Relations, University of Warsaw & St. Petersburg State University, 2012), BA (History, University of Warsaw 2011), BA (International Relations, University of Warsaw 2010). Research Fellow at the Danish Foreign Policy Society (2021), Post-Doc Researcher at Lund University (2021). Vice-Consul at Poland's Consulate General in Kaliningrad (2018-2021), Second Secretary at Poland's Permanent Representation to the European Union (2016-2018), Second Secretary & Specialist at Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (2012-2016). His research interest cover identity & politics of memory in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, as well as the West-Russia relations.


We will mainly read from three 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.
  • Hans-Jörg Tren, Carlo Ruzza, Virginie Guiraudon (editors), Europe's Prolonged Crisis: The Making or the Unmaking of a Political Union, 2015.

Supplemental articles and other  materials might be added during the course to reflect current issues and events. Please bear in mind that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we might expect some changes related to guest speakers.

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 papers. Additional material will be distributed during the course.

Manual simulations

The course includes manual simulation games, in which students “representing” decision makers (EU founding fathers and/or 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, European Council and high level summits.

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




Mid-term exam


Participation in Study Tours, including Student presentations and engagement in all visits and lectures 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: Short Study Tour during Core Course Week to southern Denmark and a Long Study Tour to Brussels, Belgium.



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 arguments.




  • 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