International Political Economy

Key information

Module code
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module offers an advanced, masters-level introduction to the cross-disciplinary, intellectual field of International Political Economy (IPE). The examination of the international political economy is important for how it sheds light on the complexity of capitalism, including its structures, processes, and outcomes. The module is organised around a set of prominent debates in three areas: (1) conceptual frameworks, derived from both international relations and the broader tradition of political economy; (2) the post-war history of governing the world economy, including attention to finance, trade, and development; and (3) contemporary crises afflicting the capitalist order, including an examination of the global financial crisis, socio-economic inequalities, the political economy of work, the political economy of the environment, and consideration of alternatives to our current predicament.

Students are asked to think critically about how the politics of the world economy is conceived and governed, in particular through evaluating issues of power and equity. 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 groups and other people?

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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;

Discipline-specific skills
(3) Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge on the international political economy, and a critical awareness of current problems;
(4) Demonstrate a conceptual understanding that enables you to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
(5) Evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses;

Personal and key skills
(6) Communicate effectively in speech and writing.
(7) Work independently and with peers to achieve common goals.

Scope and syllabus

1. Introduction: Why IPE?

Part I: Conceptual Frameworks
2. The Liberal Tradition
3. Critical Perspectives

Part II: Governing the Post-war International Political Economy
4. Finance: From Bretton Woods to the Big Bang
5. Trade: From the GATT to the WTO
6. Development and its Discontents

Part III: Capitalism in Crisis
7. The Financial Explosion: Causes and Consequences
8. The Social Crisis: Understanding Global Inequalities
9. Another Day, Another Dollar: The Political Economy of Work
10. A Planetary Emergency: The Political Economy of the Environment

Method of assessment

One two hour unseen written examination: 60% of total mark. Two 2000 word essays: each 20% of total mark.

Suggested reading

Initial readings

Blyth, M. (ed), Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE): IPE as a Global Conversation (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009).

Eagleton-Pierce, M., Neoliberalism: The Key Concepts (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015).

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

Frieden, J. and Lake, D., International Political Economy: Perspectives on Global Power and Wealth (London: Routledge, 2000).

Ravenhill, J. (ed), Global Political Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 or 2014). **

Strange, S., States and Markets (London: Frances Pinter Publishers Ltd, 1994).

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


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules