EU424      Half Unit
The Idea of Europe

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Maurice Fraser COW 2.12


This course is compulsory on the MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities and MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available on the MSc in EU Politics, MSc in EU Politics (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (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. Students will examine the themes and texts which have informed this 'Eurocentric' perspective and consider the reasons why the universal reach of 'European values' has become so contested. Among other topics, students will 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; the idea of 'The West'; the idea of 'The Other' in the formation of a European identity; and the development of the idea of universal human rights. All these ideas will be assessed for their role in the development of the 'European Project' since World War 2. 


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

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

There are two mock exam sessions in the Lent Term. The first session is the exam itself, the second session is to provide feedback.


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

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.8
Merit 65.5
Pass 14.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2014/15: 30

Average class size 2014/15: 10

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 88.2%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)