MA International Political Economy (Standard) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Comparing Capitalisms in the Global Political Economy

Course unit fact file
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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This challenging module introduces students to the literatures and debates on 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-neoliberal’ alternative to American-style capitalism, the last 20 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 ‘types’ of capitalism, and how this study of particular cases always has a global horizon
  • Provide a methodological basis for how students can compare and contrast different capitalisms across the world, with emphasis placed on the politics of comparison
  • 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, with a particular focus on the critical alternatives to institutionalism
  • Compare and contrast different case studies across the world and relate these studies to the global horizon
  • Relate the above to the global horizon
  • 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-led discussions and workshop formats, and open discussions. Blackboard will be used as a repository for the lecture slides, presentation materials, and other course information.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

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

Return to course details