The European Union's Role in International Affairs

Bachelor’s level
7.5 credits (ECTS)
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Full education cost: 11 125 SEK
First payment: 11 125 SEK

No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students.

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In this course, you will gain an understanding of the complex international role that the European Union (EU) plays in international affairs. You will learn about how EU policies regarding external relations are made internally, how other countries perceive the EU's international role, and how the EU’s role and authority in international affairs varies across different external policy fields, such as trade, development aid, membership enlargement, diplomacy and security.


The European Union’s (EU) power and international presence has grown significantly over the last three decades. However, the EU is neither a traditional state nor simply an international intergovernmental organization, and while it has significant decision-making authority and competence in certain policy areas, it lacks influence in others. The nature of the EU as a global actor is therefore subject of academic debate.

In this course, we will delve into the EU's political, economic, social and security relations with the external world, as well as how these factors may interact. Using different theories and concepts from international relations and EU studies, we will illustrate how these theories and concepts can be used to analyse and understand the international role of the EU.

You will also learn how EU’s policies in external relations are internally created, and the role played by different EU institutions and EU Member States in this process. Moreover, we will examine how other countries can perceive the EU’s international role, as well as how EU’s role and authority varies across a number different external policies, including trade, development, enlargement, foreign and security policies.

Prerequisites and selection


General entrance requirements


Selection is based upon average grade from upper secondary school (34 %), the number of credits from previous university studies, maximum 165 credits (33 %) and Högskoleprovet - Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (33 %).

After graduation

After finishing this course, you will have deeper understanding about the EU’s role in international affairs, and knowledge of what role EU institutions and Member States play in the policy process of EU external action. You will also understand how the EU’s competence and authority vary across external policy fields and issues. Finally, you will also have developed your analytical skills, orally and in writing, as well as to critically reflect upon your own and others written and oral presentations.

This course is a very suitable to combine with EU1141 Democracy and the European Union, 7,5 credits. For a more practical approach, we can also recommend EU1400 Practical EU knowledge, 15 credits.


The Department of Political Science is located in Campus Haga, which lies right in the centre of the city of Gothenburg.

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