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Law of the European Union


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: 10 multiple-choice questions (50%) and a group presentation (50%)

Module description

The law of the European Union poses a very particular challenge to students. Briefly, the gradual evolution of the European Communities from restricted trade organisation to ‘quasi-political’ community with competences for social policy, foreign policy and home and justice affairs has challenged traditional perceptions of the role, jurisdiction and political constitution of the nation state and of international organisations. The challenge to traditional forms of political organisation is mirrored by an assault upon traditional perceptions of law. The primary aim of this module is to examine the extent to which the European Union can be said to have weakened the hitherto strong connection between law and the territorially bounded nation state and to establish new relations with the individual ‘European’. 

In areas over which the European Union has competence, European law takes precedence over the national law of member states of the European Union. Nationals of member states of the European Union can rely upon Treaty provisions and secondary laws of the EU directly before their national courts. In this module we examine how such immense shifts in the underlying premise and practical reaches of law have come about. We explore the mechanisms through which EU law manages to govern so significant a part of the lives of natural and legal persons within the European Union. At the same time, we seek to identify the nature of the ‘new relationship’ between individual Europeans and instruments of European governance.

Indicative syllabus

  • Historical background (EU politics and law)
  • Principle of supremacy
  • Direct effect and state liability
  • Preliminary references and EU legal community
  • Brexit
  • Retained EU law
  • Choosing an area of substantive law
  • The building of legal community and the leaving of it
  • The future directions of EU law

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should have:

  • a firm substantive knowledge of the structures and workings of the European Union 
  • knowledge of political and economic theories of European integration 
  • the ability to work with and apply the major doctrines and principles of European Law 
  • substantive knowledge of selected fields of European law 
  • the ability to develop independent views on the nature of European Law 
  • the ability to use all sources of European law, including electronic media.