• University of Edinburgh

Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum

Learn why the UK is holding an EU referendum, the issues at stake and what the result means, with this free online course

10,802 enrolled on this course

EU, UK and Scottish Flags Outside the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

The UK will hold a referendum on whether to stay in or to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016.

The EU can often be confusing and the UK’s relationship with the EU over the years has been complicated. This three-week course breaks down the key facts and guides you through the referendum.

We look at how the UK ended up having a referendum on EU membership. We then consider the campaign issues, public opinion and alternatives to being in the EU. After the vote, we reflect on what the result means for the UK and for the rest of Europe.

Join us as we explore one of the biggest decisions facing the UK in a generation.

© University of Edinburgh 2016 CC BY-SA

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds The United Kingdom will hold a referendum on whether to stay in or to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. There are many uncertainties around the referendum. If the UK votes to leave, what kind of relationship would it have with the EU? What will the result mean for the different parts of the United Kingdom? What kind of effect could Brexit have on the rest of the EU? The UK’s history with the EU has also been complicated over the years. Why has the UK often found it difficult being in the EU? What would the EU renegotiation change in this relationship? Will this referendum settle the issue once and for all?

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds This three-week course addresses these questions and sets out the key facts. In Week 1, we look at the how the UK ended up having a referendum on EU membership. In Week 2 - referendum week - we consider the campaign issues, public opinion and alternatives to being in the EU. In Week 3 - after the vote - we reflect on the result and what it means for the UK and the rest of Europe. In addition, the course offers you the chance to predict the referendum result and to share images of what the EU means to you. You can also ask questions and discuss the issues in our weekly Referendum Round-up and Twitter Town Hall.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds Our team of experts from the University of Edinburgh will guide you through this historic referendum. Join us as we explore one of the biggest decisions facing

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds the UK in a generation: to remain in or to leave the European Union.

What topics will you cover?

  • Brief overview of the European Union, its institutions and processes
  • Historical development of the UK’s relationship with the EU
  • Factors contributing to the decision to call the EU referendum
  • Details of the UK’s renegotiation of its EU membership
  • Parameters of the referendum vote and counting
  • Central issues in the referendum campaign – economy, migration and sovereignty
  • Public opinion on the EU in the UK and in the rest of Europe
  • Alternative possible relationships for the UK instead of EU membership
  • Details of the referendum result – to Leave the European Union
  • Process for exit negotiations and withdrawal from the EU
  • Impact of the referendum on the politics of the UK
  • Implications of the referendum for the EU and European integration

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the historical and political context of the UK's relationship with the European Union
  • Assess the politics around the decision to hold the UK's 2016 EU referendum, including the UK's EU renegotiation
  • Compare the different elements of the referendum campaign, including public opinion, issues and alternatives to EU membership
  • Evaluate the outcome of the UK's 2016 EU referendum based upon earlier learning in the course
  • Develop a basic foundation in UK-EU relations to be able to follow and understand new developments over the coming years

Who is the course for?

Who will you learn with?

Anthony is PhD Candidate in British & European Politics at the University of Edinburgh. He researches the politics of the UK’s EU membership and edits European Futures, the University's blog on Europe

Professor of European Politics and Senior Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe Programme. Researches EU identity and how the public views the European Union, using twitter and experimental approaches.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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