Contemporary Europe

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Neil Lee


This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Geography with Economics, BSc in Politics and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course aims at: introducing students with little prior knowledge of European issues to some of the most important economic, social, and political challenges the European Union overcame in the past and currently faces; developing an understanding of the determinants and the historical evolution of these challenges, and the related public reactions and policies at different geographical levels; learning about strengths, weaknesses and lessons to be drawn from the most striking example of integration among nation states as a result of historical forces and in the context of a globalised world. The course covers critical issues such as different degrees of economic integration in theory and practice, historical bases for integration, competitiveness, cohesion, innovation and growth, enlargements, Euro crisis, Brexit, Europe in the world, social policy, employment trends, poverty, migration, ageing, and social exclusion and inequality. Particular emphasis is laid upon the geographical foundations of these themes, at various spatial scales in Europe: supranational, national and subnational (e.g. regional, local, urban) levels. The course is traditionally based on close interactions with the lecturers and class teachers, and extra curriculum events will be also organised.


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures, in-person lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures across Michaelmas and Lent Term.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce two class essays during the year (worth 10% each) and will also be expected to give class presentations.

Indicative reading

Given the diversity of the subject, there is no one textbook that covers all of the topics. A mix of academic articles and chapters from textbooks is used in the course. Reading lists are provided electronically, and additional web sources will also be indicated during the lectures. Indicative textbooks are the following: R Baldwin and C Wyplosz, The Economics of the European Integration, 4th ed. 2012; S Senior Nello, The European Union. Economics, Policies and History, 3rd ed. 2012; J. McCormick, European Union Politics, Palgrave, 2nd ed. 2015.


Essay (10%, 1000 words) in the MT.
Essay (10%, 1000 words) in the LT.
Take-home assessment (80%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 31.7
2:1 58.5
2:2 9.8
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2021/22: 40

Average class size 2021/22: 13

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills