MSc Business Analysis and Strategic Management

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
The Political Economy of Global Business

Unit code BMAN62012
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 Alliance Manchester Business School
Available as a free choice unit? No


‘Something is happening out there’. This often quoted remark by Peter Dicken, a leading economic geographer, summarises one of the most influential views of the modern economy: that a new kind of global economy is being created; that the firm, especially the giant firm, is central to that creation; and that as a result, national governments are losing control over this new economy.

This course is about finding out whether there is indeed a new ‘global politics of global business.’  The course adopts no committed view on the matter.  It is up to you to arrive at your own judgement.


BMAN62012 Programme Req: BMAN62012 is only available as an elective to students on MSc Business Analysis & Strategic Management and MA Political Economy


More formally, the course aims to examine exactly what is the connection between global politics and global business. It looks at some of the most important actors, institutions and processes. It is a course, above all, in politics because, for better or worse, the political environment of business, and the nexus joining the firm and the state, are what matter in making sense of the business face of globalisation.

Learning outcomes

In part the learning outcomes are substantive, and relate to the themes outlined above: at the end of the module those who take the course will have an appreciation of actors, processes, and debates. But the course also has more general pedagogic aims. A Masters course marks a departure from the prescriptive frameworks of undergraduate study. Learning here is therefore student led. Formal instruction involving passive receipt of information is kept to a minimum; there is emphasis on active and small group work and on the student led creation of case material.

Teaching and learning methods

The learning philosophy of the module shapes the practical organisation of the course.  

• Each session begins with a short ‘orientation’ presentation by me, which sketches the general themes and questions at issue.

• This is followed by break-out group sessions which take up these themes, before we reconvene together for a final discussion. This is designed to take up the first half of the session.

• The second half is taken up with a series of problem related exercises.  I outline the ‘problems’ below. They are practical versions of some of the big issues in the course, and are designed to give experience of confronting these problems, adopting roles you might expect to occupy in a business enterprise, or as a seconded advisor in government. At the first session we will create teams who will prepare group presentations on these problems.

The reading for the sessions is closely directed and is largely taken from the four books.  It is expected that students will buy these. Our strategy is to keep reading demands limited and therefore manageable, and to minimise effort in getting hold of the work, in order to ensure that everyone in the group always does all the reading. I expect all students to prepare for each session by doing all the assigned reading.  

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed by a 20-minute group presentation (20%) and a 3000-word research paper (80%)

Feedback methods

Informal advice and discussion during a lecture, seminar, workshop or lab.

Responses to student e-mails and questions from a member of staff including feedback provided to a group via an online discussion forum.

Written and/or verbal comments on assessed or non-assessed coursework.

Written and/or verbal comments after students have given a group or individual presentation.

Recommended reading

Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, 2013, 4th Edition, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

David Held and Anthony McGrew, eds., Governing Globalization (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003).

Tony Porter and Karsten Ronit, eds., The Challenges of Global Business Authority (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010).

John Ravenhill, ed., 2014, 3rd Edition, Global Political Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Xiaoke Zhang Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Informal contact methods

Office hours

Peer assisted study sessions

Drop in surgeries (extra help sessions for students on material they may be struggling with)

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