EU424      Half Unit
The Idea of Europe

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Simon Glendinning COW 1.07 and Prof Maurice Fraser COW 1.10


This course is compulsory on the MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities and MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available on the MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Politics and Government in the European Union, MSc in Politics and Government in the European Union (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Europe has never been indifferent to its own meaning and significance. In this course we explore some key ideas in the developing movement of a distinctively European self-understanding and identity. The course will introduce and critically explore the classic idea of Europe as not just a specific geographical region or regional economic power but as the 'spiritual leader' of a global mission, a 'vanguard' for human civilisation. Although our studies will focus on themes and texts which have informed this kind of "Eurocentric" perspective we will keep in view that Europe today has reached a point at which it is no longer so comfortable with the idea of the global authority of the 'European spirit'. Among other topics we examine the origins of Europe in Ancient Greece and Christendom; the idea of the territorial and historical ends of Europe; the distinction between 'civilisation' and 'barbarism'; the emergence of European rationalism; and the development of the idea of universal human rights.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Two 2,500 word unassessed essays

Indicative reading

Norman Davies, 'Introduction' to Europe: A History; Anthony Pagden (ed) The Idea of Europe; Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest; Immanuel Kant, 'Perpetual Peace' in his Political Writings, G.W.F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History; Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity; Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.7
Merit 68.6
Pass 10.9
Fail 0.7

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2012/13: 37

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 82.9%



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