Course Syllabus

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Photo: Miłosz J. Cordes.

Semester & Location:

Spring 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Short: Northern Germany & 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:

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

Time & Place:

Tuesday & Friday, 8.30-9.50 AM, Classroom: Fi6-Metro 103 

Course Description

The European Union has been the most successful voluntary integration project since the Second World War. With the continent shattered and divided, Western European leaders sought to avoid further military conflicts and provide a solid platform for dialogue between European 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 Union has emerged as a major player on the global scene.

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 global financial crisis, Brexit, rise of populist movements, problems with rule of law in some member states, COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Furthermore, discussions around cohesive climate policies raise many doubts as they are believed to be not enough by some and overly ambitious by others.

Regardless of these discussions, the European Union has become a key player in Eastern Europe, wider Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Recently, traditional rivalry between Russia and the West has been complemented with the growing economic and political presence of China. Although it is difficult for the highly bureaucratised EU to deal with oligarchic and authoritarian regimes capable of quick unilateral actions, Brussels has managed to come up with a few successful soft power instruments.


The course seeks to answer the following questions:

  • What is the European Union and 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 EU institutions navigate through internal and external challenges and crises?
  • How does it deal with challenges in its neighbourhood, such as the war in Ukraine?
  • How does the EU cooperate in other Western institutions, such as NATO?

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 embarked on the ambitious track of creating a powerful intergovernmental body that would evolve into world's most complex international organisation with global 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 of the EU and European integration before 1989.

II: Core Course Week 1: Guest lectures, field studies and Short Study Tour to northern Germany and southern Denmark, followed by a wrap-up session in class.

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, followed by a wrap-up session in class.

V: Current issues and struggles: EU foreign and security, internal challenges (Brexit, rule of law, populism, cohesion).

Learning Objectives

The 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.
  • 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).
  • increase their ability to analyse and discuss complex issues with a diverse toolbox drawing from political studies, cultural studies, history, economy and spatial geography.


Miłosz J. Cordes

PhD in Cultural Studies, MA in East-European Cultural Studies & International Relations, BA in History & International Relations. Research Fellow at the Danish Foreign Policy Society (2021), Post-Doc Researcher at Lund University (2021). Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellow (2006).

Miłosz spent 10 years at Polish diplomatic service. He was 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).

Miłosz's research interests cover identity, politics of memory, nationalism & populism in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic Sea Region integration, as well as the West-Russia relations. He has published over 30 articles in international journals and is now working on his book about identity politics in Kaliningrad Oblast.


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 (eds), 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, composition of class and their format (physical/online).

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


Field trip reflection paper


Participation in study tours, including presentations, engagement in all visits and meetings with guest speakers


Final research paper


Class activity & class attendance


Simulation game


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.



  • 4-5 pages if individual.
  • 7-8 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 the teacher.

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 the teacher.

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