Undergraduate Modules

German Politics: Domestic Contestation and Global Impact

Germany has become the leading economy in the European Union and is the world’s third largest exporter. Yet politically it plays an unusual role in global and European politics. It is a reluctant leader in the EU. In international relations it is an exponent of ‘civilian’ or ‘soft’ power, reluctant to use military force. Some commentators have classified Germany as a geo-economic power.

In order to understand Germany’s role in global politics it is essential to take account of its distinctive history, including the Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, post-war allied occupation, division into two states during the period 1949-90 and, finally, unification. The module therefore explores the way Germany’s tumultuous history has impacted on politics today. History has also impacted on party politics and Germany’s political economy, particularly its distinctive ‘ordoliberal’ brand of coordinated capitalism. Similarly, Germany’s political institutions have been designed to decentralise and deconcentrate power as a reaction against the fascist Nazi regime. Sessions explore each of these features before focusing on Germany’s role in the EU and global politics.

Finally, the module evaluates whether Germany has re-emerged as a hegemon in European politics, exploring its role in the EU crises (Eurozone, refugee and Brexit crises), exploring its contemporary role in global politics and the international political economy.

The topics covered on this module include:

  • Germany and the burden of history
  • Post war politics: German division and West German semi-sovereignty
  • German unification: a new German politics?
  • Party politics and the party system in contemporary Germany
  • Institutions and governance in contemporary Germany
  • The German model of economic policy
  • Welfare policy, gender and environment
  • Germany and the European Union
  • Germany and the EU crises (the Eurozone, refugee and Brexit crises)
  • German foreign policy and role in the global political economy
  • Diagnosing German power: reluctant hegemon, geo-economic power or civilian power?

Final Year Module
Module Code: POL3155
Autumn Semester


  • 11 two-hour seminars


  • 1 x 3,000 word essay
  • 1 x two-hour examination

Optional research module

(N.B. project not available in 2016/17)

You also have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge by undertaking a supervised 7,000-word research project on a topic arising from the work done on German Politics: Domestic Contestation and Global Impact.