Not available in 2020/21
IR433      Half Unit
The International Politics of EU Enlargement

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Karen Smith CLM.4.09


This course is available on the MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research) and MSc in International Relations Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the Student Statement box on the online application form linked to course selection on LSE4You. Admission is not guaranteed.

Course content

This course examines EU enlargement from the point of view of International Relations. The principal aim is to understand the interplay between enlargement, EU (foreign) policy and wider geopolitics. With this in mind enlargement is considered both as an act of European foreign policy and as a phenomenon impacting on the (foreign) policies of other states and actors. The course begins with a discussion of the theoretical issues of the international dimension of EU enlargement, including: size; diversity; pace of change; reach; external reactions; and the widening v. deepening dilemma within the EU. It moves on to a broadly chronological discussion of the various phases of enlargement from 1973 to the present, examining the inputs from key Member States as well as from the EU institutions, and analysing the extent to which strategic policy-making characterised each round. In the last part of the course attention switches to more thematic concerns: the impact of EU enlargement on  the self-excluded states (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and the UK); security, NATO and the post-Cold War European order; the geopolitical issue of Europe's final border; and the view from outsiders, such as the United States and Russia. Watch a short introductory video on this course: 


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

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

Formative coursework

Two 2,000-word essays.

Indicative reading

Marise Cremona, ed, The Enlargement of the European Union (Oxford University Press, 2003); Heather Grabbe, The EU's Transformative Power: Europeanization Through Conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe (Palgrave, 2006); IDEAS, Special Report, The Crisis of EU Enlargement, 2014; Neill Nugent, ed., European Union Enlargement (Palgrave, 2004); Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier, eds., The Politics of European Union Enlargement: Theoretical Approaches (Routledge, 2005); Christina J. Schneider, Conflict, Negotiation and European Union Enlargement (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Helene Sjursen, ed., Questioning EU Enlargement: Europe in Search of Identity (Routledge, 2006); Karen E. Smith, The Making of EU Foreign Policy: The Case of Eastern Europe, 2nd edition (Palgrave, 2004)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.8
Merit 47.4
Pass 36.8
Fail 0

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: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills