Politics of the World Economy

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

When you graduate, you need to find a job, a home, and a lifestyle. Unless you possess extraordinary independent wealth (congrats), none of these objectives are possible without dipping your toes into the icy waters of the capitalist system. This module can obviously not guarantee your future dreams, but it can equip you with the knowledge to better navigate a planet where politics and economics fuse and confuse. In designing this module, I follow the general principle, to paraphrase a famous quote, that the world economy is too important to be left to the economists. To make sense of political economy in toto we also need insights from political scientists, historians, geographers, sociologists, and anthropologists, among many others. Without fear or hindrance (leave them at the door as they are not needed), I encourage you to see and paint the kaleidoscopic colours of political economy.

Our journey moves through two stages. In the opening three weeks, we introduce the subject of political economy and explore major conceptual frameworks used to study capitalism, including liberalism, Marxism, gender analysis, and racial politics. In the second stage, these insights are mobilised for dissecting hot current issues, including the climate crisis (literally hot), the global financial crisis and its fallout, the politics of trade competition, socio-economic inequalities, technology debates, consumerism, and the politics of land and property. Across all these topics, I ask you to think critically about how the politics of the international economy is conceived, governed, and experienced, in particular through evaluating dynamics of power. Bonus features include a virtual Amazon warehouse tour, along with one film screening and other social drinks (let’s extract SOAS resources for ourselves like true capitalists).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of debates within the field of global political economy of world trade, including appreciation for different conceptual positions, history, and contemporary debates around major problems in capitalism.
  • Articulate one’s own normative and political positions on questions concerning the politics of the world economy.
  • Demonstrate effective communication in speech and writing.
  • Work independently and with peers to achieve common learning goals.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 50%
Assignment 2: Unseen written examination 50%

Suggested reading

  • Eagleton-Pierce, M. Neoliberalism: The Key Concepts (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).
  • Ingham, G. Capitalism (Cambridge: Polity, 2011).
  • Ravenhill, J. (ed.), Global Political Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • Stanford, J., Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism (London: Pluto Press, 2015).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules