MA Politics

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
European Capitalisms: Crises, Transformations and Contestations

Unit code POLI60292
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This challenging module introduces students to the literatures and debates on European capitalisms. The post-2008 period has witnessed dramatic changes in European capitalisms; at the same time, key continuities can be observed, such as persistent patterns of uneven development across the continent and sustained pressures on often-indebted households. Hence, the module enquires into the developmental trajectories within and across European capitalisms and the different conceptual apparatuses used to understand and analyse them. Key here is taking crises, conflicts and inequalities as the starting point rather than as a relative afterthought. Relatedly, uneven development and social reproduction are important conceptual/methodological means for exploring such crises, conflicts and inequalities. Finally, the module covers the much-cited notion of ‘Social Europe’ and thus the possibilities for alternative forms of development in the future.


The course unit aims to:


  • Familiarise students with the historical evolution of European capitalisms, particularly with regard to European integration, gender and social reproduction, questions of Social Europe, and uneven development
  • Develop understanding of how the Eurozone crises emerged, were responded to, and continue in a range of ways
  • Enhance awareness of how the transformations wrought by crises have generated new forms of political and social conflict
  • Assist students in their oral and written communication skills

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, successful students will be able to:


  • Critically reflect on the centrality of European integration, gender and social reproduction, questions of Social Europe, and uneven development to the evolution of European capitalisms
  • Interrogate the post-2008 period of crises, especially the causes, managements, and contestations of the crises
  • Relate general developments to more specific, local case studies (e.g. different countries or regions in Europe), in order to enquire into whether a Social Europe is possible, and what kind of Social Europe
  • Pursue independent study and learning, and the improvement of oral and written skills

Teaching and learning methods

10 x 2 hour seminars. The aim will be to promote enquiry-based learning through the use of lectures, student presentations, workshop formats, and open discussions. Blackboard will be used as a repository for the introductory lecture slides, presentation materials, and course information.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 35%
Written assignment (inc essay) 65%

Assessed essay

2600 words


Review of key texts

1400 words



Recommended reading

  • Bailey, D.J., M. Clua-Losada, N. Huke and O. Ribera-Almandoz (2017) Beyond Defeat and Austerity: Disrupting (the Critical Political Economy of) Neoliberal Europe. Abingdon: Routledge.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ian Bruff Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Wednesday 10-12

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