The Politics of the World Economy

Module description

This module has been designed to offer you an introduction to the cross-disciplinary field of International Political Economy (IPE). The political examination of the world economy is important for how it sheds light on the complexity of capitalism, including its structures, processes, and outcomes. There are two main questions addressed throughout the module: (1) why and how does the international political economy take its current form?; and (2) how does the international political economy impact on particular actors, including governments; firms and other producers; civil society. You will be asked to think critically about how the international political economy is conceived and governed, in particular through evaluating issues of power and equity.

Full module specification

Module title:The Politics of the World Economy
Module code:POL2027
Module level:2
Academic year:2018/9
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Stephen Greasley - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

Based on literature from the cross-disciplinary field of International Political Economy (IPE), the module examines important structures, processes, and outcomes in the recent history of capitalism. In particular the module aims to:

(1) familiarize you with the conceptual frameworks designed to illuminate major empirical concerns;

(2) provide a foundational knowledge about the post-war history of governing the world economy, including attention to finance, trade, and development;

(3) engage in current debates about contemporary crises afflicting the capitalist order, including the global financial crisis, social inequalities and forms of resistance, the political economy of the environment, and alternatives to our current predicament.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate detailed knowledge of debates within the study of International Political Economy, including relevant conceptual frameworks, the international institutional history of the world economy, and major contemporary problems in key issue areas;
  • 2. demonstrate the ability to articulate one?s own ethical and political positions on questions of the international political economy;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. critically analyse both empirical and theoretical material;
  • 4. deploy theoretical arguments and apply them to empirical case studies;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. communicate effectively in speech and writing; and
  • 6. work independently and with peers to achieve common goals.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity16.5(11 x 1.5 hour) The weekly lectures detail conceptual frameworks, history and key debates to help guide your reading.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity10(10 x 1 hour) The weekly tutorials consist of presentations and group discussion focused on tutorial questions and issues raised by students.
Guided independent study123.5Coursework and independent study includes reading, note taking, sketching answers to essay and seminar questions, presentation preparation and essay writing. This study is continuous throughout the course and should take at least six hours a week.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial presentation10 minutes1-6Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502,000 words1-6Written comments
Examination501.5 hour examination 1-6Written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay2,000 word Essay1-6August/Sept assessment period
Examination1.5 hour Examination1-6August/Sept assessment period

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction


Part I: Conceptual Resources

2.Origins of Global Governance: The Great Depression and Bretton Woods

3.  Leadership and the World Economy

4.  International Institutions and State Power


Part II: Governing the World Economy

5. Finance: the IMF 

6. Trade: From the GATT to the WTO

7. Development  and the World Economy


Part III: Contemporary Problems

8. Governing Intellectual Property

9.  Central Banks

10.  The Diffusion of Liberalism

11. Conclusion

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Cohn, T., 2014, Global Political Economy, Harlow: Pearson Education

Gilpin, R., Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). 

Walter and Sen, G., Analyzing the Global Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).

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