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

This module offers an introduction to the multidisciplinary field of global political economy. The examination of political economy is important for how it sheds light on the complexity of international capitalism, including its structures, processes, and outcomes. To accomplish this objective, insights from across the social sciences are needed. In other words, to paraphrase a famous quote, the world economy is too important to be left to the economists. The module is organised around debates in three areas: (1) conceptual frameworks, derived from the study of world politics and the historical tradition of political economy, including liberalism, Marxism, gender-based approaches, and racial analysis; (2) the recent history of governing the world economy, including brief attention to the organisation of finance, trade, development, along with energy and the environment; and (3) contemporary issues transfixing the world economy, including the global ecological crisis, the politics of the financial sector, the politics of trade regulation, socio-economic inequalities, new concerns around technology, and the political economy of work. Students are asked to think critically about how the politics of the international economy is conceived, governed, and experienced, in particular through evaluating dynamics of power. There are two main questions addressed throughout the module: (1) why and how does the politics of the world economy take its current form?; (2) how does the international political economy create uneven consequences between particular social agents, including governments, businesses, social classes, civil society organisations, and other groups?

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