MA Political Science - European Politics & Policy Pathway (Standard Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Critical Globalisation Studies

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI70282
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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes




A common assumption is that the 2008 financial crisis re-politicized global finance. In reality, finance has been at the core of the global restructuring of capitalism for over a century, with particular implications in terms of global power, including how power is distributed and exercised along class, gender and racial lines. The task of liberalizing, managing, restraining and/or reproducing finance has been a central preoccupation for state managers and economic actors alike over this extended period. At the same time, the so-called ‘financialization of everyday life’ has fundamentally reshaped social existence and social power relations in the global era.


This module is thus interested in both the high and low politics of money and finance. The term ‘politics’ is key here, and this is not a module about the economics of money and finance. Instead, it introduces you to readings that use a political economy lens to critically interrogate the meaning of money and finance, to identify how power operates in relations of money and finance, and to critically analyze their relation to global capitalism.  


This course is divided into two main sections. The first introduces the politics of money and finance from a critical political economy perspective, questioning the role of these relations in the long history of capitalism, up to an including in everyday life. The second section offers some vignettes into contemporary issues in global finance, such as the role of finance in crises, development, and climate change. 

Learning outcomes

The main aim of this course is to introduce students to the multiple meanings of money and finance, and to build a systematic understanding of how these social relations are shaped by and in turn impact upon the global economy and the process of everyday life upon which it rests. Students should be able to articulate theoretically informed arguments about the nature of money and finance, and to present a critical analysis of financial power, using a micro and/or macro perspective. By the end of the module, students should be able to develop and support an argument that responds to an essay question related to the political economy of money and finance. Alongside a basic understanding of the political economy of money and finance, students will develop research and writing skills at the MA level that will be useful in future research, study and/or employment.


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. Seminars will not provide an overview of readings, but will seek to engage with their content, as well as the underlying assumptions and methods of analysis that underpin the argument being made. Anyone having difficulty with comprehension should contact the module convenor as soon as possible.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%

1.      3,000 word assessed essay (75% of final mark)

2.      1000 word Weekly Engagement  (25% of final mark)

Recommended reading

  • Assassi, Libby 2009. The Gendering of Global Finance, Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Arrighi, Giovani. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times. London: Verso, 1994.
  • Christophers, Brett. 2012. “Anaemic Geographies of Financialisation.” New Political Economy 17(3): 271-291.
  • De Goede, Marieke. Virtue, Fortune, and Faith. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2005.
  • Deville, Joe. 2015. Lived economies of default: Consumer credit, debt collection and the capture of affect. New York: Routledge.
  • Epstein G. A. (ed) Financialization and the World Economy Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2005.
  • Fine, Ben. 2010. “Locating Financialisation.” Historical Materialism 18 (2): 97-116.
  • Helleiner, Eric. States and the Re-emergence of Global Finance: From Bretton Woods to the 1990s. Ithica and London: Cornell University Press, 1994.
  • Ingham, G. 2004. The Nature of Money. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Langley, Paul. The Everyday Life of Global Finance: Savings and Borrowing in Anglo-America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Kindleberger, Charles. Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, New York: The Free Press, 1978.
  • Knafo, Samuel. The Making of Modern Finance: Liberal Governance and the Gold Standard, Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.
  • Krippner, Greta. 2011. Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2011. The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
  • Martin, Randy. Financialization of Daily Life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.
  • Marazzi, Christian. 2010. The Violence of Financial Capitalism. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press.
  • Nesvetailova, Anastasia. Fragile Finance: Debt, Speculation and Crisis in the Age of Global Credit Basingstoke & NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Panitch, Leo, and Sam Gindin. The Making of Global Capitalism. New York: Verso, 2012.
  • Patel, Raj and Jason Moore. 2018. A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature and the Future of the Planet, Verso: London. (Especially Chapter Two: “Cheap Money”).
  • Polanyi, Karl. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press, 1944, Chapters 5, 6 and 7 (pp. 56-85), 12 and 13 (pp 135-162) and 16 (201-10).
  • Porter, Tony. 2005. Globalization and Finance. Cambridge: Wiley.
  • Shaxson, Nicholas. 2012. Treasure islands: tax havens and the men who stole the world. Random House.
  • Soederberg, Susanne. 2014. Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry: Money, Discipline and the Surplus Population. London: Routledge.
  • Third World Quarterly. 2013. Special section on debt activism 34(8).
  • Tilley, Lisa and Robbie Shilliam (eds). 2018. Special Issue: Raced Markets. New Political Economy 23(5).
  • Young, Brigitte, Isabella Bakker, and Diane Elson, eds. Questioning Financial Governance from a Feminist Perspective. London, New York: Routledge, 2011.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Perla Polanco Leal Unit coordinator
Greig Charnock Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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