Law and Institutions of the European Union

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Floris De Witte


This course is compulsory on the BA in Anthropology and Law. This course is available on the LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

It is recommended that this course is taken in the second year of the LLB. 

It is available to second and third year LLB and BA Anthropology and Law students. It is also available as an outside option to second and third year students where regulations permit.

Course content

The course is an introduction to European Union Law. The course considers a legal and political system which has become the most formidable system of transnational government in modern times. It is also a system that has become, in recent years, a source of continual political conflict: both over the content of its measures and the presence of its involvement in many spheres of activity. Discussions on the democratic nature of the EU, the relationship between the welfare state and EU law, and its very existence for example, will be covered in this course. Special attention will be given to the three major crisis that the EU is facing: the Euro-crisis, the refugee crisis, and Brexit. 

This course covers three aspects of EU law. First, it covers the institutional and constitutional structure of the European Union, including its political and judicial institutions. Second, it looks at the central policies of the European Union, notably the rights to free movement for goods, services, workers, and Union citizens. Third, it looks at some of the most topical policy areas in which EU law plays an increasingly important role, such as the migration crisis and the euro-zone crisis. Throughout, the course references Brexit and its implications.

At the end of the course you will be able to critically and independently assess both the legal structure of the EU as well as the political and social context within which it operates. 

Topics include:

  • History and Theory of European Integration
  • Institutions and Law-Making  of the European Union
  • Democracy in the EU
  • Sovereignty and EU Law
  • Brexit and its consequences
  • Differentiated Integration and the Future of the EU
  • Application of Union law in the Member States
  • Judicial Review of EU law
  • Fundamental Rights
  • The euro area crisis
  • Internal Market and Free Movement
  • Free Movement of Goods
  • Free Movement of Persons and European Citizenship
  • Free Movement of Services and Establishment
  • Refugee Crisis and the AFSJ


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year some or all of this teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus.  This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. 

Essays will be set around reading week to allow students to dedicate time to writing skills.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 1 essay in the LT.

One additional optional essay will be set in LT.

Indicative reading

Chalmers et. al., EU Law, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: CUP, 2014). In addition, the course uses a broad range of online reading material (to be linked on Moodle).


Take-home assessment (50%) in the period between MT and LT.
Take-home assessment (50%) in the period between LT and ST.

One will take place in Week 0 of LT, one will take place in Week 0 of ST. Please take this into account when choosing outside modules that are assessed in week 0 of LT or ST.

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: Law

Total students 2019/20: 194

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills