EU4A1      Half Unit
The Politics and Policies of 'Brexit': The UK's changing relationship with the European Union

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kevin Featherstone CBG 5.04 and Prof Antony Travers


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course will provide students with a critical understanding of the key issues underlying the agenda of the UK's intended exit from the European Union ('BREXIT').  In doing so, it will place the case in its appropriate historical context (the UK's previous relations with the EU) and it is intended that the course will continue beyond the point at which the UK ceases to be an EU member.  At this stage, the EU will continue to have an important, although different, role in the UK's political economy.  The course will adopt a broad disciplinary perspective - covering the political, political sociology, political economy, constitutional, and foreign policy/external relations dimensions.  As such, it will place the key issues within the relevant theoretical and conceptual debates.  While 'BREXIT' is a dynamic and uncertain agenda, it prompts a series of challenges to existing knowledge that demand critical analysis of the emerging empirical evidence and modelling.

The following is an indicative outline of each week's topics. Note that the seminar questions differ for the UG and MSc students.

1. Placing 'BREXIT' in historical context: the UK's post-1945 relations with the rest of Europe.

'BREXIT' and the UK Political System.

2. Culture Wars? Identity politics and 'BREXIT'.

3. Generation BREXIT:

4. Different visions: Party politics and 'BREXIT'.

5. The UK constitutional order and 'BREXIT': the legal processes of withdrawal.

7. Managing 'BREXIT': the impact on Whitehall

After 'BREXIT': analysing change

8. Managing secession: the EU and its external ties in Europe

9. The macro-economic implications of  'BREXIT'.

10. The micro-economic implications of  'BREXIT'.

11.  'BREXIT' and foreign and security policies.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.

An early formative essay will address a challenging interpretive question of a historical nature or of current political behaviour. Thereafter, group work/presentations will be part of the learning process for the the origination of an individual, extended policy paper (summative).  The group work will have explored the issues and implications of a particular policy area; tutor support will be provided for the subsequent individual papers (design; coverage; sources; analytical frame). 

Indicative reading


Project (100%, 5000 words) in the LT.

The summative assessment is guided by a prior  formative essay and group presentations, allowing scope for breadth, as well as the original investigation of a specific, challenging policy issue.  Assessments foster communication skills; group collaboration; investigative information-gathering and evaluation; the ability to originate, design and implement a full policy paper.  The scheduling of work with an early formative essay facilitates timely feedback; the drafting of a policy paper and the discussion with the Tutor provides support before its implementation; the later submission of the policy paper allows the student to create and deliver a paper with some original investigation and evidence.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2018/19: 34

Average class size 2018/19: 17

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills