Further academic Programmes  >  The European Semester  >  Academic Outline



The European Semester curriculum provides students with a comprehensive introduction into the study of European Politics. It is composed of five modules, covering every aspect of European integration:

Module I: Historical Context, Political and Legal Aspects and Approaches to the Study of European Integration

The course provides students with an introduction to various academic perspectives on the study of Europe in order to get a more comprehensive understanding of Europe and European Studies. How do issues and approaches to the study of Europe and European integration differ when looked at from the standpoint of different academic disciplines such as history, the social sciences or humanities?

The course begins with a general overview of modern European history since 1500. First, the students gain insight into historical factors shaping the modern European integration process. Second, the course focuses on single steps of European integration from the end of World War II through the Treaty of Lisbon.

This course deepens and enlarges the basic knowledge acquired by the students in Course 2 “Modern history of Europe and the evolution of European integration”. The course is enriched by excursions to historic sights in Berlin, where the students learn more about European urbanism and architecture, and a field trip to Prussian Palaces in Potsdam. For more information, see Study Trips.

This course focuses on the present institutional architecture of the European Union and its evolution from a historical perspective. Which are the most important actors in the political system of the European Union? How are these institutional actors interconnected? Who does what, when and how regarding the decision-making process? This course provides the students with a better understanding of the European Union as a multi-level system of governance.

The course introduces European constitutional law and the legal competences of the European Union. The significance and autonomy of European law and its relationship to the (constitutional) law of the member states is examined. The course also focuses on methods and challenges of implementation of European law in the member states.

Module II: Visiting and Experiencing Europe and the European Union

This course module combines visits to the most important European institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg with lectures and briefings given by high-ranking European Union officials and internationally renowned experts. The purpose is to provide the students with first-hand insight into the functioning of the European Union system and get them into contact with European decision-makers.

Module III: Policies and Policy Areas of the European Union

Students first get an introduction into the history and evolution of the European Single Market. In the second part, the Economic and Monetary Union as an important step of European integration is analyzed. A special emphasis will be put on the analysis of the Eurozone crisis and governance reforms of the Eurozone. The third part of the course addresses topics such as the European Union’s role in the global economy, notably in international trade, and the economic consequences of ‘Brexit’.

This course provides the students with the international dimension of European identity. In this context, three role models are discussed: Europe as a great power, Europe as a civilian power and Europe as a normative power. The second part provides the students with an overview of the structures, actors and processes of the European Union’s foreign, security and defense policy and the methods and challenges of its implementation. The course is concluded by a visit to the Federal Ministry of Defense of Germany.

The first part of this course covers European energy and climate policy. The students will gain insight into geopolitical aspects of European energy policy, key legislation and actors, as well as the EU's climate change strategy. In the second half of the course the students will get an introduction into EU environmental and sustainability policy with the EU Sustainable Development Strategy as a central instrument that identifies climate change, the increasing use of renewable energy and the managing of natural resources as top priorities of the EU.

Module IV: Europe and the European Union Seen from a Central European

Module IV will be taught in Poznan and Budapest. These study trips provide the students with a fascinating perspective on how Poland and Hungary, as two relatively new members of the European Union, see the European Union and how they define their role within the EU framework.
Module IV is organized in close cooperation with CIFE’s partners at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan and the Central European University in Budapest.

Module V: Issues, Debates, and Challenges of the European Integration

This course analyzes the basic challenges an enlarged and enlarging European Union is facing as well as the problem of leadership in a Union of 28: What significance does the Franco-German relationship have? Is the “differentiated integration” approach a feasible option for the future of the European Union? Furthermore, the question of how the enlargement process affects the future character of the European Union is discussed - will it evolve into a more federally structured system or do we observe a “rescue of the nation state”?

This course focuses on the social “fundamentals” of the European integration process. It explores the following questions: What are the cultural values of Europe and is there a common European identity? What are the “European ideals” (“Leitbilder”)? What is the basis of political legitimacy in the European Union? What do citizens expect from European integration and is there a European demos or public sphere?

Before taking their final written exam, the students will have the opportunity to repeat the European Semester’s course content by themselves as well as in a Q&A session with the European Semester’s Academic Director.


Upon successful completion of the European Semester, TAMU students earn up to 15 hours of transferable credits: 9 hours of political science, 3 hours of humanities electives and 3 hours of diversity. CIFE provides successful students with a certificate in European Studies and offers assistance to students wishing to leverage their educational experience with a subsequent pursuit of internships and other higher learning opportunities.

The courses offered at CIFE are equivalent to the following Texas A&M courses for POLS majors:

Political Systems of the EU and its Decision Making Process [POLS 306 or as pre-approved]

European Law [POLS 306 or as pre-approved]

European Markets and Economy [POLS 306 or as pre-approved]

Studies in European Civilization and Culture I [LBAR 331 or as pre-approved]

Studies in European Civilization and Culture II [LBAR 332 or as pre-approved]


The European Semester is a program organized exclusively for students from Texas A&M University and the Shanghai University for Science and Technology. Only students from these universities are eligible for the program.

Further requirements:

Minimum 2.0 GPA

Interest in European Union politics

Motivation to learn in a multicultural environment

For non-native speakers: English language proficiency

Applications for the European Semester 2018 are now closed.

Students from Texas A&M University

For more information, please contact the Political Science Department’s academic advisors, Vince Hernandez (vhernandez@tamu.edu), or Emily Baumann (emilykb@tamu.edu). You can also call the undergraduate advising office (979-845-3127).

Students from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology

For more information, please contact the USST Study Abroad Office.

Texas A&M University

For more information on funding opportunities, please visit Texas A&M Study Abroad.

Shanghai University for Science and Technology

For more information, please contact the USST Study Abroad Office.


Each course consists of private lectures by one or two professors. The weekly workload is 15 to 20 hours (contact hours) in the classroom. All courses are taught in English. The students have access to CIFE’s internet based learning platform (ILIAS) where all the relevant course readings will be uploaded.