SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

International Economics

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

The core theme of this module is the political economy of globalisation. Theories of political economy seek to define and study systematic relationships between economic and political processes. "Globalisation" is a much disputed catch-word to describe a gradual internationalisation or universalisation of social relations in general, including economic, political, cultural, ethical, geographical and organisational phenomena. There is, as yet, little consensus as to the precise meaning and significance of globalisation. Some argue that economic globalisation is essentially the expansion of the capitalist system around the globe. Others see in economic globalisation the beginning of a new era in which states take a back seat in an all-encompassing "world polity" that increasingly defines its own rules and institutions, moving away from the "old" capitalist order. This module seeks to examine and discuss the main economic features of this process as they can, at present, be discerned, and to place these within a broader historical as well as theoretical context.

Central issues include:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of free trade? Who gains and who loses?
  • Is financial liberalisation working? How can recent financial crises be explained?
  • Does globalisation make it more or less difficult for developing nations to catch up?
  • What are the implications of globalisation for international labour mobility and wage structures?
  • Does the world economy require a new international regulatory framework? If so, what should this look like?

This module is available to all CISD students. The time of the lecture will rotate on a yearly basis (either daytime or 5pm onwards) to give the opportunity to both our part time and full time students to enjoy this module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • An understanding of how macroeconomists analyse growth performance, trade relations and financial relations.
  • A basic knowledge and understanding of the economic forces and interests that interact in shaping the world economy.
  • A basic knowledge and understanding of the current international institutional setting governing the world economy, its history, shortcomings and potential.
  • An understanding of the policy issues arising from recent developments in the world economy.
  • The tools necessary to develop a critical perspective on the impact of globalisation in different parts of the world.
  • An informed view of what institutional changes and policy tools may be required to govern the world economy in the future.


The module will be taught over 20 weeks with one 1 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week.

Method of assessment

  • Assessment one (3000 words); 20%
  • Assessment two (2000 words); 30%
  • Unseen written examination; 50%

Suggested reading

This pre-reading list will be helpful for this module but is not a requirement. This is for independent reading around the topic and reading will not be supported.

  1. Is there more to Adam Smith than free markets?
  2. Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world
  3. Pigouvian taxes: What to do when the interests of individuals and society do not coincide?
  4. TED Talk: Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Aid vs Trade


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules