The European Union in the 21st Century: Internal and External Challenges

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The European Union in the 21st Century: Internal and External Challenges

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    European Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Students should be able to speak and read English at the upper intermediate level (B2) or higher. The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in Europe. There are no special prerequisites for the course.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description

    The course will introduce the basics of the European Union and describe and explain the processes of widening and deepening of this unique political entity. This will cover an overview of European Union history, its evolution in economic and political terms as well as of its institutional structure up to today.

    Internal politics and policies, for example the decision-making process, the balance of power, questions about identity and democracy in this new system of governance will be discussed. We study the causes and effects of the war in Europe, its geopolitical dimension and how it affects policies and relations with neighbors and other parts of the world. Particularly important aspects include the discussion on relations with the UK after Brexit, the future of transatlantic relations and how the EU is dealing with China’s and Russia’s alternative models of governance. We will discuss migration as well as the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. If students express specific interests in other topics or case studies sessions can be adjusted.

    The morning sessions consist of lectures, literature-based discussions and oral presentations from working groups. After lunch the course will visit various institutions in Germany`s political center. Students will have the chance to discuss the topics from the morning sessions with international experts from political institutions, embassies and think tanks.

    Student profile 

    Students from different countries, academic levels and backgrounds who are generally interested in European integration will benefit from each other in an intercultural and interdisciplinary learning process.

    Former classes consisted of regular students and practitioners such as civil servants, communication experts, young politicians and even members of parliaments. The course does not require special knowledge about European politics, law, history or culture, but participants should be interested in more than just their field of specialization. In-class participation, especially in the discussions with experts, is essential for the course success and plays an important role in grading.

    Course requirements 

    Attendance; active participation in the seminar's discussions and discussions with experts; oral and written presentation of a certain subject.


    • 40% - Participation
    • 30% - Oral presentations
    • 30% - Final paper


    See course schedule. A digital course reader will be provided.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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