MA Politics

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Gender & Global Political Economy

Unit code POLI71082
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


Mainstream approaches to analysing the global political economy tend to be based on rational choice theorizing and view markets as objective and utility-maximizing structures, which, when left to expand relatively unobstructed by governments, are capable of improving the well-being of much of the global population and raising standards of living overall. Critical approaches to International or Global Political Economy (GPE) have done much to challenge mainstream accounts by arguing that the deepening of global markets has heightened inequalities in wealth and power between the rich and the poor as well as between countries in the Global North and the Global South. However, both schools of thought fail to take account of the inherently gendered nature of global markets, either in terms of their distributional effects, or in terms of their reliance on and reproduction of gender norms. They further fail to consider how global processes are intricately connected to the everyday lives of men and women around the world. This course aims to address this blindness by using a feminist lens to de-mystify global markets and allow us to identify how gender biases are created by and reproduced through the operation of global markets, such as through dominant economic discourses and material flows of goods, services, and money. A central objective of this course is for students to be able to apply a ‘feminist lens’ to a range of global issues. There is no one single ‘feminism’ and therefore part of the aim of the course is to survey a range of different feminist approaches to the global political economy, including liberal, Marxist/socialist, post-colonial, post-structuralist and queer approaches. It further aims to introduce a broad range of topics of interest to scholars of gender and the global political economy, including the relationship between production and social reproduction, the gendered nature of finance, gender and global trade, and how crises affect the intersectional relations gender, class, race, sexuality, nationality and more. 

The course unit aims to:

  • introduce students to a range of feminist approaches to theorizing Global Political Economy (GPE)
  • familiarize students with the intellectual origins of feminist GPE and some of the main issues that concern feminist GPE scholars
  • introduce students to feminist epistemologies and methods for studying GPE
  • provide an overview of some of the different trends and topics that are of interest to feminist GPE scholars

Learning outcomes

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

  • an ability to describe how a feminist lens might be used to critique mainstream and critical approaches to GPE
  • an ability to identify the distinctive characteristics of several different feminist approaches to GPE
  • an ability to critically reflect on the gendered nature of global markets, the gender biases that are created and reproduced through the operation of global markets and the new spaces that have emerged for the negotiation of gender identities in the contemporary era
  • an ability to think critically about some of the ways in which gender has intersected with class, race, citizenship and sexuality, historically and up to the present
  • an ability to design and complete a gender-based impact assessment of parts of a trade agreement or budget
  • an ability to identify an appropriate research question on a topic related to feminist GPE
  • an ability to develop and defend an original argument
  • an ability to present research findings in written form at the Master’s level


Teaching and learning methods

The standard format will involve 10 x 2 hour seminars. At times, some of the module content may be made available online for students to access at a time of their convenience (in this case, the duration of the synchronous seminar may be revised).

As this is a Master’s level seminar, it is essential that students come to class having read each and every ‘required’ reading listed in the module outline. A brief introduction to each topic will be provided in lecture format, particularly during the first part of the module. This will not be a comprehensive overview of the topic, but will serve as a means of setting out the broader context for subsequent discussion, and to help detect and clarify any problems with reading comprehension. During seminars, students are expected to engage critically with the content of the readings (and lectures where appropriate).