6 ECTS credits
160 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 6021211FNW for working students in the 2nd semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

2nd semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Faculty of Social Sciences & SolvayBusinessSchool
Institute for European Studies
Educational team
Florian Trauner
Ilke Adam (course titular)
External teachers
Florian Trauner
Activities and contact hours
26 contact hours Lecture
Course Content

This course examines EU policy in the field of migration and asylum. It examines this policy field from empirical, theoretical and critical perspectives.

The EU policy field of migration is highly salient and sovereignty sensitive. Admission of non-citizens to the state territory used to lie at the heart of national sovereignty. Over the past 25 years, EU integration has changed this relation significantly. Internal borders were dismantled and free movement for EU citizens was established. Member states started cooperating on admission conditions for third country nationals, migrants as well as asylum seekers. EU member states also created the general Area of Freedom, Security and Justice with the Schengen area as an integral part of this new concept, as well as establishing the Dublin system at the heart of the Common European Asylum System. However, the ‘refugee reception crisis’ of 2015 and 2016 has shown that the implementation of the Schengen and Dublin agreements, the Common European Asylum System, and the common immigration policies is far from consolidated. The influx of Ukrainians has constituted another challenge for the field. Policy debates on EU cooperation on migration and asylum policies have become increasingly salient. On the one hand, the success of radical right-wing parties pushes for more restrictive policies, on the other hand, EU human rights engagements need to be respected. With a new ‘Pact on Migration and Asylum’ proposed in September 2020, the EU is currently seeking to re-balance competencies and functions. The very future of the EU integration project seems to depend on the question whether legitimate and effective EU cooperation on migration can be established.   

Explanations for the why and how of EU policies and cooperation in this policy area, and its effects, cover essential questions of European studies. Students will learn how and why the EU started to cooperate on migration and asylum, what the main EU policy instruments are in this policy field and why the policies are as they are. They will also critically reflect upon the impacts of current EU migration and asylum policies, and on possible alternatives.  The policy field will be approached from different angles, looking at institutional dynamics of decision making, the legal and policy implications and the impact of EU policies on national policies and politics.

Course material
Digital course material (Recommended) :
Additional info

Study material

  • A syllabus with the description of each lecture and the related reading list
  • For each session, there will be two to three compulsory readings that will serve as a basis for discussion plus some further readings.
  • All readings are available through CANVAS when these are not freely accessible on the internet or through the VUB library.
  • Lecture slides will be made available on CANVAS after each lecture.
  • Lecture notes taken by students during class.

Organisation of lectures
Except for the introductory & concluding lecture and public events, the (3h) lectures will be organized as follows:  

  • The course convener and/or guest lecturers will introduce the lecture (a PowerPoint will be provided after the lecture).
  • Student presentations of the required and/or suggested readings.
  • Seminar: Q&A and discussion of the readings. 
Learning Outcomes

General Competences

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding  
On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. understand the difficulties that the EU and its member states face in balancing the requirements of openness and restrictive policy pressures;
  2. understand the context and history of EU cooperation regarding migration and asylum;
  3. acquire in-depth knowledge on the main policy actors in the field of EU migration, their interests and ideas;
  4. acquire in-depth knowledge on the main EU policy instruments on migration and asylum;
  5. understand how and why EU member states cooperate (or not) on migration issues.
  6. understand how and why EU migration policies influence national policies;
  7. critically reflect upon the origins and impacts of current EU migration policies, as well as on possible alternatives.

Transferable/Key Skills and other attributes  
Upon completion of this module, students will have had the opportunity to:  

  1. learn to manage time pressure, and make concise explanation of their arguments through the essay research and writing process and/or the presentation exercise;  
  2. develop their critical capabilities to assess policy documents, and to structure their arguments in a coherent, structured and persuasive way;
  3. develop their critical capabilities to summarise and critique academic writings;
  4. perform their cultivated inter-personal skills and oral and written communication skills through seminar participation and increase their confidence in making oral arguments. The seminar format will further encourage discussion and debate of different viewpoints.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Written Exam determines 60% of the final mark.
Other Exam determines 40% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Written Exam with a relative weight of 60 which comprises 60% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Other Exam with a relative weight of 20 which comprises 20% of the final mark.
  • Small Assignment with a relative weight of 20 which comprises 20% of the final mark.

Additional info regarding evaluation

The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  1. Written Exam: determines 60 % of the final mark
  2. 10 min. presentation OR 1500-word paper: comprises 20 % of the final mark
  3. Small assignment: determines 20% of the final mark
Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of European Integration: Track 1: European Economy - Migration and Europe
Master of European Integration: Track 4: Migration and Europe - European Environmental Governance
Master of European Integration: Track 5: European External Relations and Security Policy - Migration and Europe