Learning home page

Welcome to the Learning section of the European Studies Hub.  Here you will find seven self-study modules.  These modules were written by the University of Portsmouth and and freely available to everyone. You may also like to find out more about all the European Studies courses run by the the University of Portsmouth.

These modules will introduce you to the multiple aspects of the European governance including the EU institutions, policy making cycle, history, law and theories of EU integration. It will equip you with the necessary tools for understanding contemporary EU politics and associated debates.


Module 1: Understanding EU Institutions: The EU is run by its institutions and while the European Union is more than the sum of its parts, a good knowledge of the EU’s institutional structure is essential to understanding the European Union. This module will focus on the role key EU institutions play within the EU structure and the relationships between them.


Module 2: Understanding EU Policy Making: EU policy-making can be a complicated process. The aim of this module is to break down the different elements of the policy cycle so that the process becomes clear and straightforward.


Module 3: Governance in a Multi-Level Europe: The purpose of this module is to demonstrate the effect of the EU on the different levels of European politics. Up to this point we have focussed mostly on the supranational elements of the European Union. This module will go beyond this level of focus and deepen your understanding of the EU’s multi-level nature.


Module 4: Theorising the European Union: This module will introduce you to theories of the European Union and European integration. It will start by setting out the case for theory asking essentially what theory is and why we need it. It will follow by an analysis of different interpretations of the nature of the EU, i.e. how should the EU be conceptualised, including looking at the debate between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism.


Module 5: History of the European Union: The aim of this module is to provide a historical overview of the European Union through which all of the previous modules you have studied can be put in historical context. The objective here is not to present a mere chronological collection of facts but to understand the setting and the importance of the major developments of the EU.


Module 6: EU in practice:  This module will examine how some of the key aspects of the EU work in practice, such as the Customs Union, free movement of persons or European citizenship.


Module 7: Challenges to EU Politics and Governance:  This last module discusses some of the main challenges facing the EU at the moment, such as the democratic deficit, the eurozone crisis or the refugee crisis. This module follows the structure of the homonymous unit that is currently being taught at MA level at the University of Portsmouth, including lecture slides, reading suggestions and the questions used at seminars.

Understanding the European Union: An Introduction: This link is for existing University of Portsmouth students enrolled on the Understanding the European Union unit.