EU420      Half Unit
European Law and Government

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jan Komarek COW 1.04


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in EU Politics, MSc in EU Politics (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy) and Master of Laws. This course is not available as an outside option.

This is a capped course (30 students). Students are required to obtain permission from the teaching department to take this course. Students on the Master of Laws programme cannot take this course if they are also taking LL4BG or LL4BH. 


A solid knowledge of the role and functions of EU institutions is required.

Course content

Law seems to function as a programming language: only specialists know how to “speak” it. This is true especially for the EU, which is often accused of using law to obscure the policy choices made from the citizens that are affected by such choices. At the same time, law is so systemically engrained in the EU’s set-up that it is increasingly difficult to understand what the EU is and does, let alone criticise it or suggest alternatives, without a grasp of the role of law in the integration process. This course’s objective is to connect the legal and political science perspective on governance in the EU, and provide those with none, or a very limited, background in law with the tools to better understand the state of the Union.

The course provides an overview of how the EU is governed and – at the same time – of how it governs its citizens. You will come out of it with a detailed understanding of how the EU institutions work, how EU law is adopted at the European level, and how the EU interacts with governments on the national level. It challenges you to critically think about the interaction between law and politics; and the interaction between the EU and its Member States. The course both covers the institutional perspective, highlighting the role of the different institutions in the Union, and also focuses on those substantive issues that are currently topical in the EU – such as fundamental rights or the euro-crisis.

At no other time in the development of the EU has the interaction between law and government so fundamentally affected the direction of the integration process. The coming years will very probably see fundamental changes to the Union’s structure; which are informed as much by political dynamics as by legal mechanisms. This course prepares you to fully understand those changes – and allows you to analyse critically both their normative content and institutional structure.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One unassessed essay (2,000 words).

Indicative reading

C Bickerton, European Integration: From Nation-States to Member States (Oxford University Press 2012); G de Burca and J Weiler (eds), The Worlds of European Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press 2012); S Hix and B Høyland, The Political System of the European Union 3rd ed (Palgrave 2011); P Lindseth, Power and Legitimacy: Reconciling Europe and the Nation-State (Oxford University Press 2010). 


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 13.3
Merit 68.7
Pass 15.7
Fail 2.4

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2014/15: 28

Average class size 2014/15: 13

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication