WESSELS W. - EU’s International Role and External Action : ENP, Turkey, Russia, the EU’s Architecture, CFSP, CSDP, EEAS, EU’s Power  (30h)

Professor Wolfgang WESSELS

The EU’s role in the international system is of ever increasing political and academic salience. Events and trends over the last 50 years have shown a considerable evolution of the EU’s external action and lead to highly controversial political and academic assessments of the EU’s international performance and potential future role. Not least in cases of international crises. The relevant articles of the Lisbon Treaties have both confirmed - like in major areas – and also revised the institutional architecture for the Union’s external action.

In view of these developments, this research seminar aims at:

  1. Analysing the EU’s actorness in the international system with reference to both academic conceptualisations and specific case studies of EU external policies and (multi-lateral) activities;
  2. Looking at the political, institutional and administrative mechanisms of the EU’s external action in and across all several policy domains  with a focus on the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and on later developments (e.g. in relation with the Monetary Union);
  3. Discussing potential future roles and models of the EU in the international arena, with a particular focus on the concepts of ‘global actor’, a ‘super-power in the making’, ‘civilian’, ‘normative’, ‘smart’, ‘structural’  and ‘zero’ power;

The result of the student’s work, the “master thesis”, should be a valid contribution to the understanding and – if possible – to the improvement of the political and administrative workings of the EU in the world system.  The work is expected to combine selected elements of theories with empirical research and, where appropriate, policy recommendations (a list of criteria and yardsticks is provided).

At the end of the semester, the student will have written a Master's thesis on a chosen topic. Students are expected to learn the fundamentals of the methodology in social science research's work, as well as in the field of the role of the EU within the international system. This entails:

  • identification of a specific topic
  • identification of an initial research puzzle
  • realisation of a state of the art of the literature in the selected topic
  • formulation of a precise research question
  • identification of testable hypotheses
  • choice of a research protocol
  • conduct of empirical work (field interviews with actors, observation, analytical documentation, realisation and diffusion of questionnaires, work on qualitative and/or quantitative data, etc.)
  • test of the hypotheses
  • drafting of the thesis as such, with full respect of the Departmental guidelines (length, referencing, bibliography…)

ECTS card

Academic year
2022 - 2023
Second semester
Course type
Research seminars
ECTS Points