STV9431 – A differentiated Europe and its implications

Course content

The core objective of this course is to address differentiation as a central concern in European studies, across academic disciplines from political science, public policy and public administration, to law, sociology and history. All modern political systems are differentiated; the EU is distinctly so. Precisely how and what the implications are for the EU and its member states remain contested. The course aims to conceptualize differentiation, discuss causes and effects of differentiation, and show how differentiation manifests itself internally in the EU and in the EU’s relations with non-members.

Through a combination of lectures by leading scholars and group work, the PhD course will introduce doctoral students to theories and observations on core aspects of differentiation. Training will draw resources from a large network of scholars with whom ARENA researchers collaborate. Students will gain access to state-of-the-art research and obtain knowledge on the type of critical theory of political differentiation that enables separating constructive from pathological forms of differentiation.

The PhD course, A differentiated Europe and its implications, will build upon a large collaborative network of scholars established as part of the EU-funded ARENA-coordinated project ‘EU Differentiation, Dominance and Democracy’ (EU3D) (2019-2023), and the broader network of its sister projects InDivEU and EUIDEA, which come together in the EU-funded Collaboration and Support Action DiCE (2020-2022).

For those participating from Oslo, the PhD course will be an excellent opportunity to discover Oslo. The welcome event on day one will include a trip to the Munch Museum and a subsequent dinner in the centre of Oslo. Lunch for in-person participants will also be covered.

Taking place: Oslo/Online, 21–24 June 2022, Sophus Bugges hus seminar room 3

Schedule  Reading list



There is no doubt that the EU has become more differentiated. With 27 member states the EU’s ethnic, linguistic, cultural, institutional and structural diversity is pronounced, and it is in direct contact with a more multifaceted and diverse neighbourly environment, which increases the likelihood that the EU imports diversity. A further source of differentiation stems from increased contestation. For those starting to take EU integration as a natural given, the Eurozone crisis and Brexit came as rude awakenings. The rise of Euroscepticism and Europhobic right-wing populism has given added impetus to a change from the ‘permissive consensus’ of the past to today’s ‘constraining dissensus’.

The PhD course is structured around the following four key topics:

  1. Conceptualizing and theorizing differentiation: What are the key characteristics of differentiation? What are the various forms of differentiation? What is the relationship between differentiation and democracy? It is recognized that some forms of differentiation are conducive to democracy, while others might be pathological. We understand these under the heading of dominance, as arbitrary and unjustified forms of rule.
  2. EU and differentiation: Overview of the current situation of differentiation in the EU context, with a focus on internal and external forms of differentiation.
  3. The corona pandemic and EU differentiation: Discussing the corona pandemic’s implications for the EU: Will it lead to increased fragmentation and differentiation, towards increased integration and consolidation, or to incremental and path-dependent processes of pragmatic change.
  4. Implications for Norway and the UK: Comparing the role and status of one ex-member and one closely associated non-member. What kinds of EU affiliations will these states have when the UK actually departs from the EU post-2020? How to locate these affiliations in the differentiation scheme that the course develops?

Learning outcome


On successful completion of this course, students will acquire knowledge about:

  • The key characteristics, observations and core aspects of differentiation in a European context
  • Critical theories of political differentiation
  • EU differentiation in light of the corona pandemic
  • The implications for Norway and the UK in a differentiation scheme
  • State-of-the-art research on EU differentiation


Students will be able to: 

  • Discuss causes and effects of EU differentiation
  • Explain how differentiation manifests itself internally in the EU and in the EU’s relations with non-members
  • Identify and critically evaluate theoretical arguments used in the literature
  • Link differentiation to relevant social science questions


Students will:

  • Enhance their competence in analysing questions about EU differentiation thoroughly, critically, and independently
  • Enhance their competence concerning the internal working and external relations of the EU


The course is open for both students enrolled in Norwegian PhD programmes and international PhD candidates. There is no participation fee. Lunch as well as one dinner and museum visit are covered, but the cost of travel and accommodation, if needed, must be covered by the participants.

Application form.


Application deadline: 15.05.2022


Teaching will take place in a hybrid format, with the option of both physical and digital participation, depending on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The course will take form as an intensive 4-day seminar and will be structured around the foregoing key topics. Active participation in seminar discussions is expected.

Course leaders

  • John Erik Fossum (Professor of Political Science, ARENA and EU3D Scientific Coordinator)
  • Jarle Trondal (Professor of Political Science, ARENA and University of Agder)

Other contributors

  • Dirk Leuffen, Professor of political science and international politics at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, at the University of Konstanz, and work-package co-leader in EU3D
  • Benjamin Leruth, Assistant Professor in European Politics and Society, University of Groningen
  • Vivien A. Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Professor of International Relations in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and Professor of Political Science at Boston University
  • Sieglinde Gstöhl, Director of the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies and full-time Professor, College of Europe in Bruges


Mandatory activities

During the course, the participants will be required to:

  • Hold an individual presentation
  • Attend and participate actively in seminars
  • Submit an outline for the exam paper


Participants are expected to have read the literature in advance in order to become active participants in the discussions (estimated workload: 2 weeks).



Participants will submit a paper of 6,000 words for evaluation and approval after the course. The paper will be graded a ‘pass’ or a ‘fail’ by the course coordinator.

Participants who submit a paper that is graded ‘pass’ and have completed all the mandatory activities will receive a course certificate recommending 10 ECTS credits.

Note that to obtain ECTS credits for this course, prior approval by the PhD coordinator at the home institution of the doctoral student will be required.

Facts about this course






Every spring

Teaching language