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

This information is for the 2020/21 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, 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.

Course content

The UK's exit from the European Union (EU) represents the biggest and most complex challenge to British politics and policy for generations.  At the same time, it will be a major part of the EU27's agenda: for both the negotiations process and the adaptation and implementation phase thereafter.  Public and private institutions - in both the UK and the EU - will be obliged to manage the public policy consequences for years to come.  This course will provide the knowledge and analytical skills relevant in this regard for those intending policy-related careers or further research. More generally, in analysing a dynamic and uncertain process in 'real time', it offers students a practical example of contemporary public policy analysis.

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. Thus, the course will develop a broad disciplinary perspective - covering the political, political sociology, political economy, constitutional, and foreign policy/external relations dimensions.  In doing so, it will place the key issues within the relevant theoretical and conceptual debates.  

The following is an indicative outline of topics covered. 

  • ‘Europe’ in Post-War British Politics: why the reluctant partner?
  • The EU Issue in Party Politics
  • The Brexit Divide in Electoral Politics 
  • Getting to a Deal/ No Deal: the two sides in the BREXIT negotiations
  • Managing BREXIT and Beyond: the impact on Whitehall
  • BREXIT and foreign and security policies
  • BREXIT and migration 
  • BREXIT and The City
  • BREXIT and the UK economy
  • The US: ‘BREXIT’ and Europe.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 22.5 hours across Michaelmas Term.  This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of recorded lectures and remarks, flipped lectures (online discussion of weekly topics) and in-person (or, if School closure demands it, online) seminars. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of the Michaelmas Term. 

Formative coursework

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

  • D. Dinan et al, eds. (2017) The European Union in Crisis; London: Palgrave.
  • A. Geddes (2013) Britain and the European Union; London: Palgrave.
  • B. Simms (2016) Britain's Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation. London: Allen Lane.
  • S. Wall (2008) A Stranger in Europe: Britain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair.  Oxford: OUP.
  • H. Young (1998)  This Blessed Polot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair.  London: Macmillan.
  • K. Armstrong (2017) BREXIT Time: Leaving the EU -why, how and when? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • H. Clarke, M. Goodwin and P. Whiteley (2017) BREXIT: Why Britain voted to leave the European Union.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • E. O. Eriksen and J. E. Fossum (2015) The European Union's Non-Members: independence under hegemony? London: Routledge.
  • S. Hobolt (2016) 'The BREXIT vote: a divided nation, a divided continent',  Journal of European Public Policy, 23, 9.   And 'Debate Section': 'British exit from the EU - legal and political implications', in the same issue.
  • L. Halligan and G. Lyons (2017), Clean BREXIT: Why leaving the EU still makes sense; London: Biteback Publishing.
  • The LSE project: 'Generation BREXIT'.


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

The summative assessment for this course is a Policy Project which requires students to prepare an extended analysis of a specific policy issue that has arisen from the ‘BREXIT’ process.

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: 30

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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