MA Political Economy (Standard Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Comparing Capitalisms in the Global Political Economy

Unit code POLI60032
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 module introduces students to the literatures and debates on capitalist diversity and the politics of comparing different ‘types’ of capitalism around the world. Originally centred on Western European political economies and the potential for this part of the world to offer a ‘non-liberal’ alternative to American-style capitalism, the last 15 years have witnessed a dramatic expansion of the debate to include Central and Eastern Europe, South America, East Asia, and Africa. This, combined with the Great Recession of the late 2000s and the emergence of a so-called ‘new normal’ of crises, conflicts and inequalities, has had a significant impact on the conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches used to compare and contrast different capitalisms. The module’s combination of conceptual/methodological themes and specific case studies enables it to speak to a range of crucial issues, such as the continued existence of significant diversity across the global political economy, how to conceptualise and analyse diversity across the global political economy, the possibilities for emancipatory forms of development, and so on.


The course unit aims to:

  • Familiarise students with different conceptual approaches to the study of different ‘varieties’ or ‘types’ of capitalism, and how they relate to the global context
  • Provide a basis for how students can compare and contrast different capitalisms across the world
  • Relate conceptual approaches to empirical case studies 
  • Assist students in improving their oral and written communication skills

Learning outcomes

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

  • Compare and contrast the different conceptual approaches to the study of capitalist diversity
  • Compare and contrast different case studies across the world
  • Relate the above to the current context of global crisis and change
  • 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%


2600 words


Review of key texts

1400 words



Recommended reading

  • Ebenau, M., I. Bruff and C. May (eds) (2015) New Directions in Comparative Capitalisms Research: Critical and Global Perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ian Bruff Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Tuesday 10-12

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