EU464      Half Unit
International Migration: EU Policies and Politics

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Eiko Thielemann CBG 7.02


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 International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in The Global Political Economy of China and Europe (LSE and Fudan). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This is a capped course. Students are required to obtain permission from the teaching department to take this course.


A good knowledge of EU institutions and EU policy-making is required.

Course content

This course examines the management of ‘unwanted migration’ to Europe.  In particular, it deals with the European Union’s governance of migratory flows such as asylum seekers and irregular migrants whose immigration states often seek to prevent or discourage.  As the willingness of sovereign states to advance global governance in the area of immigration policy remains very low and unilateral national policy-responses are limited in their effectiveness, interest in regional governance has grown.  The European Union is without any doubt the front-runner in developing such regional governance initiatives. 


The course provides an in-depth treatment of the origins, evolution and major policy issues within this policy field which has been the fastest growing EU policy area since the 1990s. The course will normally focus on the following three policy areas: (1) the emerging EU asylum and refugee determination system; (2) border management, detention and deportation; and (3) responsibility allocation (the ‘Dublin system’), burden-sharing and solidarity.


Those taking the course will learn how to systematically examine the origins and impact of EU policy instruments and judgments by the European Courts.  After completion, students will be able to answer questions such as: Why have Member States intensified cooperating on asylum and immigration issues? What is the relationship between international human rights law and EU law? Given the influence of the EU’s supranational institutions, do the Member States still effectively control policies on asylum and immigration? Has EU policy-making lead to a convergence of “lowest common denominator” policies or to higher human rights standards in the Member States? 


For their assessment, students will have the opportunity to conduct a policy case-study, allowing them to apply the analytical skills developed in this course to analyse a specific EU immigration policy of their choice.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 27.5 hours across Lent Term.  This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of recorded lectures, flipped lectures (online discussion of lecture materials), and in-person and/or virtual seminars. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

A prospectus for the assessed research project (policy case study).

Indicative reading

  • Zaun N. (2019) EU Asylum Policies: The Power of Strong Regulating States, Palgrave;
  • Chetail V. and P. De Bruycker (2016) (eds.), Reforming the Common European Asylum System: The New European Refugee Law, Brill;
  • Peers, S (2016) EU Justice and Home Affairs Law, Oxford University Press;
  • Geddes A and Boswell C (2010) Migration and Mobility in the European Union, Palgrave/Macmillan;
  • Geddes A. (2008) Immigration and European integration: Towards fortress Europe, Manchester University Press;
  • Thielemann E R (ed.) (2003) "European Burden-Sharing and Forced Migration", special issue of the Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol.16, No.3.


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

The summative assessment takes the form of a research project (policy case study). 

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2019/20: 51

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication