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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

The Europe Question: Is the EU good for us?

In recent years the debate over the UK’s relationship with its European neighbours has received unprecedented attention from all corners of British society. The growing popularity of separatist groups, such as UKIP, and the upcoming referendum on 23 June 2016 have ensured that the question of the UK’s membership to the EU will remain at the forefront of British politics for the foreseeable future. This means that it is now more important than ever to understand the way in which this unique political entity emerged and ‘how it works’ as a system of governance.

Big Ben
Is the EU good for the UK?

This module is designed to help you explore the European Union from a social scientific perspective, and will equip you with knowledge of the key theoretical issues underlining the British membership debate. We will explore matters such as the history of the Union, the changing roles of the Union’s various institutions, and the theories of European integration that have dominated scientific enquiry. We will also critically discuss several of the most pressing concerns in the ‘European debate’ in detail, such as migration to Britain from the east and the realisation of democracy at the European level.


This module will typically comprise the following:


Week 1. From Paris to Lisbon: The history of modern integration in Europe.

We will look at how the EU developed from an organisation designed to promote the trade of coal and steel to the complex political and economic union that it is today. What were the major pieces of legislation, and what did they do? How does integration work, and how has it changed the way that we make policies at the national level?


Week 2. How it works: is it possible for the EU to be a democratic Union?

We will examine the different institutions of the EU in order to understand how legislation is made and enforced. What are the roles of the different bodies and how have they changed over time? Is there a “democratic deficit” at the EU level?


Week 3. The four freedoms: The wider implications of the free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

We will look at the four freedoms and how they have affected the UK and the rest of Europe. Is our economy stronger if it is kept open to the rest of the EU? Are the effects of the four freedoms equal on all areas and regions?


Week 4. ‘Location, location, location’: The effects of migration between European countries and how this relates to the UK.

We will look at the issue of migration within the EU and focus on the ways in which open borders have affected the UK. Is free migration a good thing? Can it be restricted, and do we want it to be restricted?


Week 5. The Eurozone: the monetary union and the UK

We will examine the introduction of the single currency in certain member states. Why are some countries members whilst others are not? Is the Euro a good or bad thing? Has it benefitted some countries more than others?


Week 6. Welfare or work: The European Union and the welfare state.

We will look at the debates surrounding the welfare state and the EU. What effect has membership had on British social security? Is Europe converging around a particular model of welfare delivery?


Week 7. The growing EU: The enlargement process in the past, present and future.

We will look at the future enlargements of the EU. Who are the current candidates and potential candidates for membership? How does a country join the EU, and what does it have to do to meet membership requirements? What would new members mean for the way in which the EU operates?


Week 8. ‘Ready for opportunities and challenges ahead: the UK and a multi-speed Europe’

The various viewpoints expressed in the campaign leading to the June Referendum will be examined in summary and to conclude this module





Course Start Date: Wednesday 20 April - Wednesday 8 June 2016

Time: 19:00-21:00

Length: 8 weeks

Fee: £100.00 (£95 for University Staff and Students)


Please note that your course will only run if it receives a sufficient number of bookings . This will be confirmed closer to the start date of the course. If your course is cancelled due to insufficient booking numbers, you will receive a full refund. Please note that the booking/payment confirmation that you receive should not be taken as a guarantee that the course will run. This confirmation will be sent to you separately once it has been established that the course will go ahead.



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